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Edible Amaranthus – Tasty, Beautiful & Nutritious

August 03, 2012
Amaranthus tricolor

Amaranthus tricolor

Ever tried edible amaranth is your garden?

We are a greens eatin’ household, so I’m always looking for new-to-us tasty leaves to grow for the table. This year, we seeded Heirloom edible Amaranthus tricolor from Botanical Interests. No regrets, and we’ll grow it again, but here’s what I’ll do better next time.

This plant loves the heat, so planting it early in the year — even in our passive greenhouse — barely worked out. Many of the seedlings that actually germinated ended up crashing in the cold. The starts that I moved out into the garden in early May were either mowed down by slugs, died for other reasons or are totally stunted. Even when temperatures warmed up, they never grew beyond those first sets of leaves. (Maybe I should have heeded the vendor’s warning that it doesn’t take well to transplanting.)

The plants that I kept in the greenhouse, potting up now and again to keep up with their growth, continue to perform beautifully. (Um, so transplanting worked in these cases.)

The one plant that grew rapidly, quickly lost some of its beautiful reddish leaf color. Still, its huge leaves are making perfect wrappers for fresh tomato and basil snacks. The other plants, still clothed in brilliantly colored leaves, simply shine in the greenhouse. We’ve harvested from them a bit and will continue to do so. To date, we’ve only eaten the leaves raw, but that big plant with the dull leaves may be chopped down tonight and steamed like spinach…or, I may continue to stress it in hopes it throws a few flowers that will produce high-protein seed we can sprinkle over salads of the same.

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

Love the look?

Another Amaranth we love to grow in ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘. This show-stopping cousin isn’t edible (to my knowledge), but its flowers are simply unparalleled eye candy.¬† This year, I seeded quite a few, but I enjoyed watching several other volunteers show up in spots where I left it to seed itself last autumn. I’ll be doing more of the same this year.

(Fine print: Although Garden Mentors has received free seed from Botanical Interests in the past, we purchased this edible Amaranthus seed. Also, we have received no compensation for this blog post.)

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