Amaranthus- A Super Food for the Backyard Gardener

Giant Orange Amaranthus

Giant Orange Amaranthus

I tried growing some Amaranthus or commonly known as “love lies bleeding” this season, and it really surprised me.  I have grown the smaller varieties in the past, like the pendulous variety which topped off at 3 to 4 feet tall.  But the Giant Orange Amaranthus shot up 8 feet tall and then sent out this wonderful feathery plume that everybody who visits just stops and stares at! These flowers are not valuable as nectar sources for pollinators, but the seeds are a great nutrient packed source for humans.

The Giant Orange Amaranthus towers over me!

The Giant Orange Amaranthus towers over me!

Having fun with 'Love Lies Bleeding' at Giverny

Having fun with ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ at Giverny

Grown for thousands of years, amaranthus has been called an”ancient grain” or “pseudo cereal“. The entire plant is edible, leaves, stalks, seeds, and flower, so it has been called “the wonder food plant“. The seeds can be popped like corn, roasted, stir fried,  and sprinkled on cereal. The stems and leaves can be chopped and stir fried or eaten in salads. It is packed with protein, lysine, high in fiber, and supposed to lower cholesterol.

Amaranthus comes in all colors, including the foliage

Amaranthus comes in all colors, including the foliage

It reminds me of chia seeds, another nutrient packed rice like grain. I love chia, so I was really interested in trying out amaranthus. But I wasn’t sure how to harvest it and after some trial and error figured it out. Watch my YouTube video on the process.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cYtAROA4ZU

Basically, I set up a Tupperware container with a screen on top and rubbed the seeds through the screen into the container beneath. You are separating the seeds from the chaff, just like threshing wheat.

Rub the seed heads through a screen to harvest Amaranthus

Rub the seed heads through a screen to harvest Amaranthus

In just 10 to 15 minutes, I harvested about a cup of the seeds ready to use in cooking. They taste good too! I will be growing more varieties next year for sure.

About thegardendiaries

Claire Jones is a landscape and floral designer and owner of Claire Jones Landscapes, LLC. She designs and helps people to create their own personal outdoor oasis and loves to write about her gardening failures and successes.
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One Response to Amaranthus- A Super Food for the Backyard Gardener

  1. Wow! That fascinates me. What areas will it grow in? I’ll watch the video to see where you get the seeds from the plant. It looks like somethings been eating the leaves.

    Like

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