R Ranson wrote:The rains stop on or just before May 1st (in a normal year)
Kyrt Ryder wrote:Right, you mentioned Giant Kale in another post last night. I tried googling it and the only thing that came up is Walking Stick Kale.
Perchance do you have a link to a seed company's description of Giant Kale?
Rick Valley wrote:My favorite sweet treat is Alegria, the Mexican traditional sweet made with popped amaranth. Like a popcorn ball with micropopcorn. You can find it sold by street vendors. I tend to get a bit twitchy when I eat sugar on an empty stomach, but alegria has the protein of amaranth and I do just fine with a treat made from it. For Dia de los Muertos they make cute little Aztec-style skulls and such with alegria if you're ever down there then.
R Ranson wrote:I don't know much about eating and cooking amaranth leaves because there are usually so many greens available at the same time, that I haven't been bothered to try them. I would love to hear you experiences with this.
Amaranth keeps on flowering until hit by the first hard frost. Seed will often ripen many weeks before that, usually after about three months. The best way to determine if seed is harvestable is to gently but briskly shake or rub the flower heads between your hands and see if the seeds fall readily. (Numerous small and appreciative birds may give hints as to when to start doing this.) An easy way to gather ripe grain is, in dry weather, to bend the plants over a bucket and rub the seedheads between your hands. My own preferred threshing method is to rub the flowerheads through screening into a wheelbarrow and then to blow away the finer chaff using my air compressor. Cutting and hanging plants to dry indoors does not work very well: the plants become extremely bristly and it is difficult to separate the seed from the chaff.
Winnowing is where the “art” part comes in. Try experimenting freely over a clean tarp so you can simply sweep up any “mistakes” and start again. You won’t get every seed, so have fun with it and throw the chaff in a part of your yard where you won’t mind when a carpet of amaranth greens appears in the spring. Winnowing works because seeds are heavier than chaff, so you need to make sure you’ve sifted all the big chunks out, leaving only the pulverized, fluffy flower parts to remove.
Dave Forrest wrote:
RANT/PLAINTIVE CRY: I have tried harvesting the seed exactly once, and it was enough to make me think perhaps I am only suited to urban life and must abandon my permie fantasies. Or slit my wrists, jump off a bridge or something. OK, so you take a seed head and you rub it between your palms. A ton of eensy weensy seed falls out all over the place mixed in with a much, much bigger quantity of amaranth fuzz and flakey bits. Now don't get me wrong, the amaranth fuzz is amazing -- soft, fluffy yet resilient -- has anyone tried using this for pillow stuffing? But I digress. Let's assume that I actually wanted some amaranth seed I could eat. Or plant next season. Or whatever. So there's the problem that I now have a huge bowl full of combined seeds, flakes and fluff. So I try to find some YouTube videos on what to do next. And I discover that on YouTube there aren't anywhere near enough serious, well-produced videos about what to do with a big bowl of amaranth fluff. [NOTE: BIG OPPORTUNITY for any of you who want to become rock stars of the amaranth-winnowing community.] Anyway, the most convincing of the uninspiring videos I saw was of a guy who plopped a couple of handfuls of the fluff mixture on a paper plate and blew on it. A few good edits made it look like it took one minute instead of ten to separate the seeds from the other stuff. I tried it and blew everything all over the kitchen. I swept it up and tried again, this time very gently, and by constantly rotating the plate and blowing gently for about ten minutes, I got my yield of about a tablespoon of seeds. Great, I thought, all I have to do is repeat this another 150 times, say from now until a week from Monday, and I might have as much as half a kilo of amaranth, which if I'm careful could last me for -- 4 meals? Yippee, after only 10 days of winnowing!
R Ranson wrote:One thing I've been wondering about amaranth is how would it do in a no-till situation?
I'm trying to find grain and staple crops that can grow Fukuoka style, only in the summer, with no rain, it's a bit of challenge.
Is it worth sprinkling Amaranth seed on the patch and covering it with straw mulch?
Would it grow with friends? I'm thinking some kind of Giant or Fodder Kale, which grows roughly the same height. Maybe with a squash understory. Squash and amaranth finish in the fall, the Kale lasts all winter, and under the kale I can plant fava beans.
But this all depends on Amaranth's ability to get along well with others.
Any experience with this?
Meghan Orbek wrote:
... I am using amaranth as a mini windbreak/dynamic accumulator on the north side of my nursery bed. The baby trees are small, and a couple feet away the amaranth row seemed to create a nice little vegetative wall for sunlight and moisture to bounce against.
I'm curious, has anyone here tried brewing with amaranth grain?
R Ranson wrote:Bugs eh? That would be horrible. I know Amaranth is suppose to be high in protein and all... but maybe it tastes better without the creepy crawlies. No wonder it's not the crop for you.
How did the leaves taste Steve? Does it have any uses as a sacrificial plant to draw the bugs away?
I don't know if this is a 'good' harvest or not, but for no water, no rain, nothing but the morning dew, and the second driest year since they started keeping records, I got just over a kilogram of seed from a 8x10 foot section. I lost about half the seed in the processing, as I'm still trying to get the hang of it. I think it was in Seed to Seed that I read, one kilogram of amaranth seed is enough to plant 2.5 acres. So definitely a worth while crop here.
I'm still eating last year's harvest, so I'm not sure what to do with all this grain. I desperately need more recipes.
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.