Growing Amaranth for Food

Overview

Native to South America, amaranth is an alternative leafy green to spinach and kale. The plant can also function as a forage crop for livestock. With cultivars bearing beet red leaves, amaranth can add color to your garden and protein to your diet. This crop is a warm weather leafy green that is not commercially grown in North America. Seeds may be challenging to find for this reason, so you may need to order them online.

Step 1

Test the pH in your soil bed. Amaranth prefers a pH of 6.5 to 7.5, notes Purdue University. Amend your soil if necessary by adding lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it.

Step 2

Prepare the garden bed for seeding by turning over the soil to aerate it and break apart soil clumps. Remove rocks, weeds, sticks and roots from the garden bed so your amaranth seeds can germinate and grow.

Step 3

Rake the soil in your garden bed so it's flat. The bed is ready for planting. Amaranth needs full sun to grow and germinates best with a warm soil temperature of 65 degrees F.

Step 4

Dig a 1/4-inch deep furrow with a spade. Sow amaranth seeds in the furrow, leaving 1 inch between seeds. Space rows 18 inches apart. Cover over the seed with soil to complete planting.

Step 5

Water the newly planted amaranth until the soil becomes moist but not saturated. Continue to keep the ground moist until the seeds germinate, typically within two weeks.

Step 6

Water amaranth seedlings until the ground becomes saturated.

Step 7

Weed the garden bed often, since weeds rob nutrients from your developing plants. Since amaranth leaves are bright red, you can easily tell what is a weed and what is amaranth by color alone.

Step 8

Fertilize amaranth with 10-10-10 fertilizer, using the manufacturer's suggested dose range based on the size of your garden bed.

Step 9

Harvest amaranth leaves before they flower, using scissors to cut them off the plant. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads, while older leaves work well sauteed. Treat amaranth as you would spinach or kale.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel Rake Spade Water 10-10-10 fertilizer Scissors

References

  • Tropical Permaculture: Growing Amaranth as Food
  • Purdue University: Amaranth

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: Acid Soil
Keywords: growing amaranth, amaranth food crop, planting amaranth seed

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.