Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus)
Amaranth is an ancient food enjoying a newfound popularity. This traditional food plant of Africa and the Americas is a great staple with gluten-free easy to harvest edible seeds and succulent leaves that can be eaten fresh or cooked. Amaranth is also a lovely ornamental that will add a dramatic backdrop to any garden with many varieties producing deep burgundy or golden flower heads and red or green leaves.
Nutrients: protein, vitamins C and B6, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, and calcium.
How to Grow Amaranth from Seed
Amaranth is a frost sensitive annual that prefers full sun and tolerates a wide variety of soils. Drought tolerant once established, but most productive in moist rich soil.
Amaranth can be direct seeded outdoors once the danger of frost has passed. Seeds can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Sow seeds 1/8” deep and 1-2” apart. Seeds will sprout in 8-12 days. Thin seedlings so that mature plants are 6" apart.
Harvest amaranth greens in 30-40 days after planting. Flowers can be harvested in 45-70 days and grains in 75-110 days.
How to Save Amaranth Seeds
Amaranth is self-pollinating, but will also readily cross with other varieties and the wild-type amaranth, which is quite common. Flowers should be bagged to prevent cross-pollination and maintain seed purity. Collect the seed heads as they begin to dry on the plants and store in closed paper bags to finish drying. Most of the seeds will shed on their own into the bags. Don’t let heads get wet after they dry. Chaff easily blows away after seed heads are crumbled. Watch for thorns and prickles in some plants!