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Amazing Amaranth  RSS feed

 
Posts: 190
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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William Bronson wrote:

Larisa Walk wrote: We dry the seed heads on cloth "hammocks", shelves made from shear curtain-type fabric that lets air circulate but doesn't let the seed through. The hammocks have EMT (electrical metal tubing) on either side to stiffen them and are hung by chains in our sun porch. We use this same setup for drying sorghum and can be used for corn and beans if needed.



Sounds like set up worth copying, any chance you have pictures to share?



There is a picture in our book "Feeding Ourselves - The Four Season Pantry from Plant to Plate" You can get either a hard copy or e-book from us at http://www.geopathfinder.com/Four-Season-Pantry.html
 
Posts: 72
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I wouldn't want to keep one plant going too long for leaves--even if they don't bolt they start to get tougher and have more oxalic acid, though not quite as fast. It is easy enough to succession-sow every couple of weeks so you always have fresh ones. The leaf types are the best for this. They germinate well in hot weather, make more leaves and less stalk, and are more tender and tasty. Bountiful Gardens has 2, a red and a green with red veining. I love the flavor.

Its true that if you live in a place where corn grows well, no other grain will yield as well. These other grain crops like amaranth and quinoa are more adapted to the mountains and margins.
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Even if you do grow where corn grows well [which seems to be where grain Amaranth thrives best, though it performs better in more marginal areas than corn] or grow in marginal areas where you need to use corn that performs more poorly to get a corn yield, having more options for crop rotation or greater diversity in your polyculture is always an asset.
 
Jamie Chevalier
Posts: 72
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I agree, options are great, and the time to get good at them is before you need them. But amaranth won't seem like such a wonder crop if you are already able to be easily grain self-sufficient with corn, and if the amaranth is crawling with bugs--well, let it go. Sorghum might be a better alternative for him than amaranth.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Right, that was in the context of Steve's post. Indeed it seems something about his site definitely does not agree with the amaranth he grew.
 
gardener
Posts: 1795
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I had a horrible time getting amaranth started last year. I think ants kept carrying off the seeds. Finally I resorted to starting them in seedling pots.

I saved seed from last year and put it in seedling pots yesterday. Just checked on them they've already started sprouting. This was a white seeded variety. Also seeded two different black seeded varieties and they haven't sprouted yet. Not sure if that's a product of the seed kind or not.
 
Casie Becker
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Just an update, the first black seed has sprouted today. That's more than 40 white seeds sprouted in one day, and one black seed sprouted in two days.

For what it's worth, that's the difference I'm seeing between Baker Creek seeds purchased this spring (the black seeds) and my own white seeds saved from last falls plants.
To really be an accurate comparison they would probably both have to be purchased or saved seeds.
 
pioneer
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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I planted a few rows of my landrace amaranth seeds yesterday. It's a month earlier than my regular planting date, and two months earlier than the prescribed date.

Why am I risking it so early? Amaranth is a warm weather plant.

One of my goals for my landrace is to thrive in the summer drought with no irritation. Last year, I grew the amaranth in low part of the farm that floods in the winter, so there was some ground moisture. It did very well, but now I want to know if it will grow in a much dryer spot. So that it can have at least some chance of surviving, it needs to have a well-established root system before the rains stop. The rains stop about the same time as our last frost date. This really sucks if you are amaranth and like warm weather.

Spring has come here early this year. It snuck in at the end of January. There are a few spots where the soil is bare, either because it's path or because it was waiting for the transplants. Working in one of those spots, I noticed how much warmer the soil is than where I have plants growing. I don't usually get this kind of soil warmth until the end of April (amaranth planting time). So I quickly loosened the soil on a path and smothered it with amaranth and sunflower seeds, along with some lettuce and something nitrogen fixing and low that I cannot remember, probably crimson clover. Lightly raked the seeds into the soil, so that some seeds will be on the surface, some about an inch beneath it, and the rest somewhere in between. Giving the seeds a variety of soil depth increases the likelihood that some of the seeds will be at the optimal depth.

I suspect there will be some germinate and grow, but whether or not I'll get a harvest from this endeavour, I doubt it. The soil is excessively poor and well drained. Every neighbour who's seen us working on that part of the yard has stopped and informed us how nothing grows on that side of the ridge. Too much drainage, too many rocks, and even if they import truckloads of 'proper dirt', it still ended in tears. Yet, I believe if we can get a bit more organic matter in the soil, it will be perfect for overwintering crops like favas and grains. They like well-drained spots that dry out when the heat arrives. And if the amaranth grows as well, then that would make a splendid show. If it grows and dies, then I'll have more organic matter to improve the soil for next year.

Besides, all I really need is one plant to produce seeds under these extreme conditions (early start, no irrigation in well-drained, poor soil) and produce a spectacular opportunity for improving my landrace project.

I have to say, I am very excited.
 
raven ranson
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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The seeds I planted in the last post, started coming up in two days. Most of the amaranth and sunflowers were up by the end of the week. The sunflowers are now just getting their true leaves. It's like the soil has a lovely red blush with splotches of green.

I haven't looked at the official records, but I suspect the rainfall for this month is below normal (again). The soil is already starting to dry. On the top terrace, the soil moisture is most of an inch down. On the bottom terrace, it's still gathering surface dew overnight. This first planting is on the middle terrace, which has moisture about 1/4 inch down and is good at gathering surface dew. Fingers crossed the plants can get big enough to harvest the dew soon, otherwise, I'll just have a mulch of dead seedlings.

Oh well, at least dead seedling mulch improves soil which is one of the main aims of this project. Take crappy, sandy, rocky soil and a two prong approach. 1. grow things and let nature do the selecting so that we come up with plants that can tolerate these conditions (drought and cold/hot tolerant landrace is my aim). 2. use the plants to improve the soil (failed plants as mulch, over winter pulses for nitrogen, excess plant matter for compost &/or mulch). Somehow I imagine I'll get to a middle ground where plants can grow happy.


I planted the amaranth & sunflower mix on the two other terraces. So far they are looking good, but one can definitely see the difference soil quality makes on them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 449
Location: Western Kenya
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Hmm, I wonder if I can revive this old thread?

I just put amaranth in the wetlands garden for the dry season today.  I've only ever grown it as a vegetable (which is delicious, btw).  The locally available variety does not make a large seed head, so I don't think its worth harvesting as a grain crop.  Also our seeds are the shiny black variety... and I read a post on this thread about the black seeds causing gastric distress.  Can anyone else confirm that? 

Which variety is best for grain harvesting, considering I am in the tropics with heavy, acidic clay soil?

And I'm curious, R Ranson, did your early sowing survive?
 
raven ranson
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The amaranth was very interesting last year.  Where the soil was good, it grew much better.  Places where the soil were really bad, the amaranth only grew two inches high, flowered, then dried out.  Other places, it grew 5 to 10 feet tall.  It moderate soil, it grew about 4 foot tall.  All, even the most pathetic amaranth, produced seeds of some sort. 

Our spring last year was mild enough that the amaranth weren't set back by frost.  I think this year is going to be a much colder spring, so I'll probably wait till May to plant them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 915
Location: Longbranch, WA
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Which variety is best for grain harvesting, considering I am in the tropics with heavy, acidic clay soil? 


Both the red and white amaranthe grew on the clay soil I trialed this year. It got about 4 feet tall. I got it started late therefor the heads got rained on before I could harvest it. The millet did a little better.
 
Maureen Atsali
pollinator
Posts: 449
Location: Western Kenya
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R Ranson, I also had that experience.  The amaranth I planted in poor dirt (can't call it soil) did not grow well.  It was pale and yellowish and only grew about 4 inches tall before it flowered.  Not enough leaves to make it worth while to even harvest for veggies.  And yet in the same spot, a few self-seeding volunteers came up and did okay.  Not great, but okay.

Hans, I can't grow millet.  Let me reword that: I can GROW millet, if I want to feed the wild birds.  There isn't anything left to harvest.  The birds don't seem to bother the amaranth, but like I said, this is a leaf vegetable variety, and doesn't make a very impressive seed head.

 
Hans Quistorff
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Posts: 915
Location: Longbranch, WA
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Hans, I can't grow millet.  Let me reword that: I can GROW millet, if I want to feed the wild birds.  There isn't anything left to harvest.  The birds don't seem to bother the amaranth, but like I said, this is a leaf vegetable variety, and doesn't make a very impressive seed head. 


I can understand about the birds. The grain amaranth also has an impressive seed head which reportedly attracts the wild birds.  Do you have the plastic bird netting available in Kenia?  It may be necessary to plant in an intensive bed under netting.
 
Larisa Walk
Posts: 190
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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The birds moving in on amaranth are your clue that the seeds are ripe and ready for harvest. To confirm that, rub the flower head between your fingers and some seed should fall out easily.  Cut the flower heads off and place, carefully, in a tub to transport into a dry, bird and critter-proof space to finish drying down before threshing.  Spread out on cloth or tarps to catch any seeds. The seeds are mature and viable at this early stage and rather than waiting for dry-down to happen in the field it happens in a controlled environment without birds.
 
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so much good stuff, and its alll covered ,but will add anyway. Pigweed is amaranth, the variety we call bledo which is a staple used as a pot herb. Not worth harvesting for grain, I prefer the bucket method of harvest and it that dosent work, dont other. We dont really plant it but shake out seed everywher, and we are no till.  Poly culture, not till no plant, if not dont bother. Mixed information on edibility of black seed amaranth but havent had trouble.
 
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