Green Amaranth, Green Cholai - Seeds
The grain is popped and mixed with honey. In North India, it is called "rajgira". The popped grain is mixed with melted jaggery in proper proportion to make iron and energy rich "laddus" a popular food provided at the Mid-day Meal Program in municipal schools.
Amaranth grain can also be used to extract amaranth oil - a particularly valued pressed seed oil with many commercial uses.
A nutritious, leafy green for warmer areas. It is a fast-growing and best to harvest the whole plant as older plants get tough and bitter tasting.
Common name: slender amaranth or green amaranth.
Height: Plants grown in average garden soil will be four-feet to six-feet tall, while those grown in rich soil or compost may reach over eight feet.
Difficulty level: Easy
Planting & Care
Amaranth is responsive to nitrogen and phosphorous. Plants grown in average garden soil will be four-feet to six-feet tall, while those grown in rich soil or compost may reach over eight feet. Optimum soil is a well-drained loam but both plants will do well in all but poorly aerated clay soils.
Amaranth are grown from seed. Amaranth seeds can be directly seeded into your flower garden, or started indoors for transplanting later. Note, Amaranth plants are susceptible to frost. Amaranth prefers warm weather. If planting outdoors, sow Amaranth seeds after the soil has begun to warm in the spring.
We recommend an indoor start, six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area.
Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with soil. Space seeds or seedlings 10-12" apart. They will tolerate a little crowding, and look good in clumps or groups.
Sunlight: They prefer a warm climate, full sun.
Soil: Optimum soil is a well-drained loam but both plants will do well in all but poorly aerated clay soils.
Water: Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week.
Fertilizer: Add a general purpose fertilizer once or twice a season.
- Successive sowings will provide greens over a long period.
- The leaves have a sweet, tangy flavour and are best cooked, raw leaves should not be eaten very often, as they are high in nitrates and oxalic acid.
- Well, there really isn t much to it.
- Amaranth seed is very fine.
- If you grow leaf amaranth you want a large number of plants because you will likely harvest the whole plant while it is still young.
- There is no point starting it in punnets.
- Thinly sprinkle the seed on the ground and rake it in.
- Like all fast growing leafy greens amaranth loves rich soil with steady moisture and a good supply of nutrients, especially nitrogen.
- But it isn t as fussed as spinach or silverbeet would be.
- Amaranth is much hardier.
- It can cope with heat and dry conditions a lot better than any other leafy green.
- If you are frustrated with trying to grow tasty, leafy greens in the tropic, amaranth is a plant you should start growing today.
Harvesting: 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 flower-heads 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.
- Once established, amaranth needs little care.
- It is more tolerant of drought than most other leafy vegetable and will tolerate a wider range of soils than other grain crops.
- Compared to other grains amaranth seeds have a much higher content of the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron and of the amino acid Lysine.
Amaranth seeds are also high in potassium, zinc, Vitamin B and E and can contain over 20% protein (depending on the variety).
Amaranth leaves are nutitionally similar to beets, Swiss chard and spinach, but are much superior.
- For example amaranth leaves contain three times more calcium and three times more niacin (vitamin B3) than spinach leaves.
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