I have been growing and harvesting amaranth (the red variety) in allotment at Italy recently. I have growing before last year in the UK. They perform better in Italy than the UK simply because the sun is much stronger here. Even it’s location is at the foothills of the mountains of Northern Italy. So here is my blog about growing and harvesting amaranth.
We left Italy back in June when the amaranth were quite young. Since they were left to grow by themselves. Just some water from the sky when it rains and that’s it?!! Now it’s end of October it’s the first time we have been to the allotment since June and look how much they have grown?!! They are quite resistant to drought it seems. It’s much better than weeds growing all over the allotment.
Moreover the benefits of growing it’s incredible as their grains are as good and nutritious as quinoa. The seeds are high in omega 3. The grains are cook like quinoa. They are great for a gluten free, vegan diet. The leaves can be use for cooking as well.
One can buy the seeds online easily. I got them on ebay before. they geminate quite easily. After sowing once the risk of frost plant them out. Give some space between the seedlings. The frost can kill young seedling easily. Once planted out do protect them from slugs and aphids. They are generally quite disease free. However, they do need a long growing season if one is growing for grains. As generally amaranth is a tropical plant. Once the amaranth is growing the garden chances of it regrowing by itself next year it is high as they seeds do find their way to land by themselves.
The amaranth can grow very high up to 1-2 meters tall. When the seeds start falling off like clusters it is time for harvest. Do the seeds/ grains protect them away from birds as they love them.
To harvest the grains don’t let the clusters of seeds dry off completely. If it changes to yellowish like the picture below. It’s too old and will taste bitter when cooked. So harvest the amaranth grains when they red and vibrant in colour.
Young leaves can harvested and eaten raw in salads. Older leaves needs cooking as they are tough and use in recipes like curries, stir fires or any recipes that uses spinach.