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Millet and Amaranth

 
gardener
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I am trying to add some diversity into my three sisters planting by adding millet and amaranth. I want to grow a useful amount however, to vary the diets of all livestock (in include us in that).  My question is, what sort of yield could one get from, say 2 x 50ft rows of each on rather mediocre soil? I have never grown either, clearly! but want to get started with as many things as I can as time is passing and we aren't getting any younger....
 
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Would love to hear how this goes! I've never grown amaranth, but based on this Volunteer Gardener video (   [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20w1_xdd8qA)[/youtube]    and some totally unreliable math, I'd say 1-4 pounds of the seeds, but if you're using it for the livestock, they could eat the whole plant. I'd want to eat the leaves myself, since they're second only to beet greens in levels of potassium per calorie, according to health.gov. I also liked this harvesting video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20w1_xdd8qA)  where it does seem like she's getting a ton of seeds by harvesting one flower stalk.
 
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I want to recommend the Amaranth variety "Golden Giant" which is a huge plant with huge seed heads.  Impressive yields.

https://www.rareseeds.com/golden-/
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Thank you to Katie - will watch when I have internet
Thanks Tyler - have just ordered!
 
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You might consider adding grain sorghum. I would expect the yields to be much higher, and it would probably be easier to harvest and separate the grain.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Ken W Wilson wrote:You might consider adding grain sorghum. I would expect the yields to be much higher, and it would probably be easier to harvest and separate the grain.


Thanks Ken. Will look into that and post results.
 
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Both millet and sorghum are the native crops where I live. Sorghum is definitely easier to process and usually has higher yields.

If you compare the nutritional value though, millet wins out.

If you want to use the stalks as animal feed as well, then go with sorghum, as millet stalks are super hard. We actually use millet stalks as a building material. But to that point, millet is far hardier and drought resistant.

 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:Both millet and sorghum are the native crops where I live. Sorghum is definitely easier to process and usually has higher yields.

If you compare the nutritional value though, millet wins out.

If you want to use the stalks as animal feed as well, then go with sorghum, as millet stalks are super hard. We actually use millet stalks as a building material. But to that point, millet is far hardier and drought resistant.



That's  good to know - thanks! I am ordering sorghum but have millet and red amaranth  (green on order) and will be a planting in clumps wherever there is space, following a multi culture approach ( is that the correct term? ). I wont tell him indoors - he is pulling out what little remains of his hair over my ever increasing planty ambitions!
 
Katie Lefevre
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I was just reading about woven seed beaters in Tending the Wild by Kat Anderson. Found this neat video of someone using the same principle to gather chia seeds, but using a flyswatter and a big plastic bucket. Would definitely work for harvesting Amaranth!

 
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I'm doing three sisters with corn, millet and sorghum. OK scratch that, the corn got eaten by some worm, the millet didn't work (probably planted too early and rotted) and the sorghum is tall and looking good- but far too flexible to support the squash (fine for beans). This was in a wood chip bed, so it may not be transferrable. I am thinking the millet would be the best if I can get a really tall variety, the ones I get here are bred to be short and only get maybe chest high. Deer and raccoons are not very interested. Corn needs a lot of nitrogen and looked sad in the chips, but that may improve after a few years. Unfortunately the three sisters is what I am doing in new beds to prepare for other stuff. Millet is on the list for next year, sorghum is off and I'm trying the corn again after putting in a bunch of coffee grounds and carcasses this summer and until planting.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Update. I managed to get about 8 amaranth plants and no millet. Last year my winter wheat failed. I am reluctant to sow my hulless oats...?
 
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hm. i get very variable outcomes from amaranth, millet, wheat, oats, and sorghum. Oats are supposed to be kindergarten-level foolproof, and sometimes not a darn one comes up. My weather here is all over the place in terms of temps and rainfall, so I just assume I'm at fault, but I often have not a single XX come up and then next time they all come up. I regularly plant millet, sorghum, wheat and oats for the rabbits for forage (obviously, with mixed results). Keep on trying!
 
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I grew millet last year. I grew pearl millet/Pennisetum glaucum, which apparently needs threshing but not hulling. I still haven't gotten around to threshing, which seems like it'll be fiddly, so I don't know how it cooks up.

I started early in flats and transplanted. Didn't water once, even at transplant. We had no rain for three months and it was hot most of the time. The main stalk was 6+ feet tall, and each plant had lots of tillers. The soil in this bed was terrible. Basically just dust. The millet just grew and grew. It was awesome. It was always covered in all kinds of bugs, too. I think there might have been tiny bits of moisture where the leaves came off the stalk cause there where always wasps hanging out there.

The garden bed was an odd shape, but area was probably about 6x6'. In that space I got a three gallon bucket of seed and chaff stripped off the stems. There were lots of immature heads, so if your season is longer than mine you'd probably get better yields.

Hope it works better if you try again. I think it has huge potential.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Jan White wrote:I grew millet last year. I grew pearl millet/Pennisetum glaucum, which apparently needs threshing but not hulling. I still haven't gotten around to threshing, which seems like it'll be fiddly, so I don't know how it cooks up.

I started early in flats and transplanted. Didn't water once, even at transplant. We had no rain for three months and it was hot most of the time. The main stalk was 6+ feet tall, and each plant had lots of tillers. The soil in this bed was terrible. Basically just dust. The millet just grew and grew. It was awesome. It was always covered in all kinds of bugs, too. I think there might have been tiny bits of moisture where the leaves came off the stalk cause there where always wasps hanging out there.

The garden bed was an odd shape, but area was probably about 6x6'. In that space I got a three gallon bucket of seed and chaff stripped off the stems. There were lots of immature heads, so if your season is longer than mine you'd probably get better yields.

Hope it works better if you try again. I think it has huge potential.



Yep, that's millet, hardy as anything!

True, millet does not need de-hulling, however the germ is incredibly tough--and some say bitter. So if you want a nice flour you'll still be better off de-hulling it. Millet is unique in that it makes a great 'milk' even raw. So that can be a good way to use it with the germ still on it. Just grind it to flour, mix with water, a touch of sugar (and ginger and lemon!!!) and let it sit out over-night to ferment. The result is a delightfully tangy milky drink. Mix it up gently, then let it sit 30 seconds so the larger particles settle, and pour the milk off the top.
 
Jan White
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:
True, millet does not need de-hulling, however the germ is incredibly tough--and some say bitter. So if you want a nice flour you'll still be better off de-hulling it.



Does the bitterness come out because of the milling? Would eating it has a whole grain taste different or is the germ too tough to use the millet whole?

And how do people hull the millet? Just by pounding?

I've seen a video where someone was showing how to hull millet by soaking, then blending in a "mixie" which seems to be kind of a cross between a coffee/spice grinder and food processor that's popular in India. That was something I was planning on trying, so I'm glad to see it's possible.
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Jan,
Honestly, I've never had it with the germ on. My neighbors do all the local style cooking for me and the wouldn't dream of eating it with the germ.

To de-hull it here they wet it and pound it. It's a long job, and aerobic! Another way is to wet it and put it through a mill in a very loose setting so the grain doesn't crush but just gets 'rubbed' real hard. You just have to tweak the grinder setting to find the sweet spot.
 
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