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Grain Amaranth

 
Jimbo Mathews
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Anybody got experience with growing amaranth? I know a native species called 'pigweed' grows here according to a fellow up the road who turned me on to some giant amaranth he gave me seeds to. Its the 'golden giant' variety that I'm growing here, I've got around 40 plants in the ground now. I'm hoping to have a nice harvest in the fall. He told me the best thing to do was just step back and let em go, no need to water or anything else. Any other theories? Anything ya'll can tell me about this plant would be awesome.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I had very good success with "Golden Giant" a few years ago. Whether or not you need to water depends on your climate. If it's hot and dry you might want to water.
 
Jordan Lowery
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I grow grain amaranth every year. It's my favorite early succession plant when starting s food forest. It stimulates life in so many ways.

If the soil is good dry cropping is possible. But on poor soil some irrigation helps with yield a lot. The difference in 1/16th a pound or less per head or 1 lb per head.

Make sure you use the stalks as mulch. Cut them at soil level and scatter naturally on top of each other, or on contour lines. This preps the soil well for the next succesion. If you leave the stalks up but stripped of flower heads and let the leaves fall off it helps break up frost to understory plants.

I won't even get into how many insects it will bring when blooming. You'll see.
 
Jimbo Mathews
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Jordan Lowery wrote:I grow grain amaranth every year. It's my favorite early succession plant when starting s food forest. It stimulates life in so many ways.

If the soil is good dry cropping is possible. But on poor soil some irrigation helps with yield a lot. The difference in 1/16th a pound or less per head or 1 lb per head.

Make sure you use the stalks as mulch. Cut them at soil level and scatter naturally on top of each other, or on contour lines. This preps the soil well for the next succesion. If you leave the stalks up but stripped of flower heads and let the leaves fall off it helps break up frost to understory plants.

I won't even get into how many insects it will bring when blooming. You'll see.


This sounds very encouraging! How often would you water in a drought, like a once a week deep soak?
 
Jordan Lowery
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Location: zone 7
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Once every few weeks in poor soil unless your growing on rock you might need more if you want any worthy returns.

But really water if you can when the plant needs it. And when it does soak it deep and let those roots search for water.
 
Cal Edon
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Amaranth is way, way more tolerant of drought and poor soil than corn. But it won't produce super well under those conditions, so you'll probably want to give it *some* water and quality soil.

It's quite rich in protein, and is close to being a perfectly balanced amino acid source. But - and this is very important - it contains various anti-nutritional substances that means amaranth grain should not be eaten raw. Lots of food sources are like this, actually, so don't be too concerned. But if given to chickens as a major part of their diet, the raw grain will eventually kill them. Cooked amaranth is a great animal feed, if for some reason you don't want to eat it yourself. The leaves of both 'vegetable' and 'grain' varieties are edible and very nutritious, though a bit bland.

The biggest problem I had with it is getting the seeds out of the heads without bringing along countless tiny insects and arachnids.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Does the same nutritional problem apply when sprouted?

To get rid of the insects I cut and dry on vented tables or hang. After a few days they are gone, and it's easier to get the grain out.
 
Cal Edon
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I don't actually know how sprouting affects the toxins in raw amaranth... but, given that sprouting doesn't render raw kidney beans safe to eat, it's probably safest to guess 'no'.
 
Roses are red. Violets are blue. Some poems rhyme. But this is a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
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