It’s Another Fun Miniseries!
My first miniseries revolved around skincare (check out the posts here). Now…since I am super amped up about gardening season, I thought I’d do a little miniseries this week featuring some of the things I’ll be growing this season and explaining to you why I am growing them. Sure, I’m growing the standard carrots, cauliflower, and cucumbers, but I am also growing calendula. Do you know why I’m growing calendula? Better check out my post from a few weeks back…Calendula-Hula-Who (and why YOU should know).
Things aren’t always as obvious as they may seem. For instance…yes, I am growing fava beans. Beans are great in a lot of things, from chili to salads. BUT…another reason I am growing fava beans is so that I can grind them into my very own (VERY cost effective) fava bean flour!
Speaking of fava bean flour, you better check out these recipes, if you haven’t already…
Without further ado, I’d like to kick off this miniseries with an introduction to one of the biggest, most beautiful plants I’ll grow this year…
Orange Giant Amaranth
Why Grow Orange Giant Amaranth?
These lovely, “ornamental” plants grow between 6-8 feet tall. Yes…FEET! What an eye-catching conversational beauty to have in the yard!
The word ornamental is in quotation marks because while this is true, there is much, much more that these plants offer than sheer beauty.
When the young leaves are eaten they taste similar to spinach and contain high amounts of fiber, iron, and calcium (I’ve read in a few places that amaranth actually contains more than 2 x the amount of calcium as cow’s milk). Most of us could use an excellent source for more iron and calcium, so this is a great find for me.
Now, this is of huge importance for me. The orange giant amaranth is a superb seed producer. Just what can or should you do with these seeds? What can’t you do with these seeds!? First, know that the seeds of the amaranth contain a decent amount of lysine, which is an essential amino acid for our bodies. Eggs, meat, beans, etc. (many protein sources) do contain this amino acid, but to be able to get it through a seed (which is a very versatile seed) is also a great option.
This particular variety of amaranth is a massive producer of seeds, with each plant producing around 1-lb of seed. YES…each plant! These seeds can be used in breads, pastries, or can even be popped like corn (although I’ve tried this many times, with no real success…any advice for me here, readers!??). In fact, when amaranth seeds are combined with wheat or brown rice, they offer protein as complete as that found in fish, red meat, and poultry. For people who have a hard time digesting a lot of meat (or toddlers who just don’t eat enough…uuh hemmm…mine!), this makes amaranth a wonderful option. Digestibility of amaranth for most people is good, too. Sweet!
Oh…I should also mention that seeds of the amaranth can be broken down into a flour and used in baking. Woo Who! A fun new flour…you know that I love this!
Can I Grow Orange Giant Amaranth?
- Remember, they are massive. Do you have room for something massive? Luckily I have quite a bit of land to work with, so I do have room.
- Do you have a place that gets a lot of sunlight throughout the day? Yes? Good, because they do need quite a bit of sunlight.
- Water…they actually don’t need a lot. They tolerate drought pretty well. That’s always nice, huh?
- How is your soil? Ehh…just okay? You’re in luck…just okay is good enough for these beauties. In fact, they will help your soil to get better. 🙂
When & How Do I Grow Orange Giant Amaranth?
Now (so long as your frost/snow is done). You can start them inside first, but it is not necessary. Purchase some organic, heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company (I love this company) and get them into rows, sown lightly under soil. You’ll want to thin them as they come up (to about a foot between plants…remember, they are huge). Remember, too, that they do not need a lot of water and are quite drought tolerant. You may think that they aren’t doing anything, but from what I hear once they hit about a foot tall, they really take off.
These babies will continue to bloom into the first frost or two. Awesome!
Here are a few excellent sites to learn more about giant orange amaranth:
- Salt Spring Seeds
- Backyard Gardener
- Seed Man
- Good old Wikipedia (this particular entry looks to be pretty accurate, as I’ve compared it to other sources on the net)
Oh…something else you need to know…
I grew up gardening with my father. I have quite a few very special memories of these gardening days…from walking underneath of the gigantic sunflowers we planted when I was itty-bitty to my Dad teaching me how to use my dibble stick. Speaking of…Dad- Do you still have this!?? I have had a few small gardens in places I have lived before and have planted a few things in pots. All that said, this season is my first *real* garden planting…on my own…at this level. I am excited and optimistic, while being a bit terrified, too.
Soooooo…all of you readers who have more experience than me…I’d LOVE your input this season! I’ll certainly keep you posted re: how things are coming along through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts and pictures, as well as Scratch Mommy blog entries. I think that this old saying works well in this scenario, too, “It takes a village…” to help raise food. 😉 Until next time…
Jess, aka Scratch Mommy
This post was shared at– Eco-Kids Tuesday, The HomeAcre Hop, Share Your Solutions On Thursdays, Thank Your Body Thursdays, Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest, Homemade Mondays, Fat Tuesday, Small Footprint Fridays.