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Amaranth for 3 Sisters Garden

 
Posts: 270
Location: 1 Hour Northeast Of Dallas
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The last couple of years I've grown a 3 sisters garden with moderate success. On the North side of the garden, I've been planting sunflower seeds and at the advice of a neighbor am now considering replacing those with amaranth or at least adding them to the mix. I've never grown amaranth so was wondering if anyone had some advice. Could this work? Do they grow tall enough to be planted on the North side? Are there certain varieties I should be leaning toward?
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My amaranth reaches about 4 feet tall when grown as a weed in the corn patch.
 
pollinator
Posts: 450
Location: Western Kenya
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I've never tried amaranth with corn.  In my poor soil, amaranth is slow to start.  I have a feeling that corn would out-grow it and shade it before it took off.  But everything is an experiment!  Try a section, and see how it goes!
 
Posts: 75
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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I had some amaranth grow six feet high last year. It was seed I'd bought from the grocery store.  (The seed I bought from Baker's Creek grew a more compact plant, with beautiful flowers.) It took quite a while for the amaranth to get big though.

 
Brandon Greer
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Sounds like it wouldn't fair well with corn. I'll plant it in a separate area. Thanks for the heads up!
 
pollinator
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I have amaranth (wild, and what I think is a wild-cultivated cross) that grows in my corn every year without consulting me regarding which side of the garden it should be in.

Some Native American groups grew amaranth (and sunflowers, and...) in their "3" Sisters gardens, so it's not without precedent.
 
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Location: Jackson, Michigan Zone 5
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The Amaranth I've grown is around five feet tall. I've never tried to grow beans up them but I don't see why not. I'll definitely give that a shot this year. I have had some success growing our beans up sunflowers and even the apple trees in our yard. The squash usually ends up running through everything in the garden. So I imagine the three sisters can be pretty diverse and just depends on what works well for you as far as companion planting goes. Always a good idea to keep a garden journal so you can look back and see what works best.
 
Wes Hunter
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I'm pretty certain the amaranth would be handily pulled down by even a modest bean plant; it's just not that strong.  (Heck, not all corn is suitable for trellising beans, and corn as a rule is quite sturdy.)  The point of amaranth in the 3 sisters isn't to provide a trellis, as far as I know, but to simply add diversity.
 
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I've tried the 3 sisters but didn't get the timings right so the beans outgrew the corn. I'm going to try the 5 sisters this year which are the usual 3 plus amaranth and sunflowers. I've been reading up and amaranth is supposed to be beneficial to corn and the sunflowers can also be used to train the beans also. And have a deep and huge root system which helps spread the mycorrhizal fungi. After the sunflowers have died you cut off the stalk and the root. The fungi continue to live on the roots and in the soil for the next crop.
 
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Since amaranth is just a fancy pigweed, I imagine it will bring nutrients up from the subsoil. A few years ago, I planted some really funny looking (I believe it was elephant head) amaranth in my lowest terrace and it took off. Unfortunately, it reseeded itself with a passion and became a ground cover throughout the garden. It was still coming up in spots last year. I'll see if it makes another encore.
 
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