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June 13, 2012

How to Grow Amaranth Greens in Florida

We all can agree that growing greens in Florida’s summer is no easy feat. Last year I tried growing baby bok choy in the shade, as well as trying different forage type greens, such as sweet potato leaves and cow pea leaves in my salads. While they worked OK, something was still missing. And that something was in a realm of a regular salad type green. So, this year I am trying something different.

Enter a new type of leafy vegetable: Amaranth Green.

I ordered the seeds from Bountiful Gardens because they offer all open-pollinated, non-GMO, heirloom seeds. The description for the amaranth, that is leaf amaranth, not the grain type, was that it loves heat and loves moisture. OK, heat is no problem in June and beyond, and moisture I can reasonably provide. Granted, we had a lot of rain lately, so moisture was supplied by nature.

True to the seed company promise, amaranth survived and is doing quite well. I only planted a few plants, but have been snipping the leaves for the salad for about two months now. Lately we have been suffering some excruciating temperatures, but amaranth stood to the challenge.

Amaranth Greens

The only problem with it is that it is quite difficult to start from seed. As usual, I start my seeds in nursery containers, and noticed that with this plant it is not easy when it comes to to achieving good consistent germination. The seedlings themselves look (and behave) quite weak for a few weeks, but when transplanted to the garden they do take off strong. I also tried to seed amaranth greens directly into the soil, but cannot attest to the success of that method because I mixed up replanting of the transplants and direct seed in the same bed. I think it would be better still to start it in nursery containers. All in all, it is a worthy green to try. It is somewhat dry and tough, compared, let’s say to romaine lettuce, but as we know, everything dies in our gardens in the summer, so a plant that keeps providing a harvest during the hot days is a winner no matter what. It tastes kind of like spinach, not a very strong taste, which is a good thing. I usually just chop it up in fine strips and make it a base for my salad. My verdict – thumbs up for that unusual vegetable, leaf amaranth green.

You can grow greens indoors in the summer. Click the image to learn more...

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  1. We traditionally use amaranth greens. It is never eaten raw. Cooked lightly with or without a light tempering of spices it is heavenly. You can also add it to soups or beans. It is even more nutritious and tasty than spinach.

  2. Surprise! it is more effectively nutritious when cooked because cooking lightly breaks the cell walls releasing the nutrients.



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