Amaranths (Chinese Spinach)
Description - Amaranths are green, leafy vegetables and/or grain crops. The leaves of vegetable amaranths and the seeds of grain amaranths are high in protein. More commonly known in the United States is the amaranth used as a bedding plant called Joseph's Coat. Amaranth varies greatly in color of the foliage, the shape of the leaves and the height of the plant. The clover-like flowers are small but occur in such large numbers that their affect is outstanding.
Culture - Amaranth, both vegetable and grain types, are easy to grow. Order specific edible varieties of amaranth to get the greens. If you don't get Amaranth gangeticus, get one of the edible varieties. Some seedsmen promote their varieties as producing edible grain only while other seedsmen promote their varieties for "greens" or leafy use. This warm season crop grows from 2 to 4 feet or more. The grain varieties are usually erect. Amaranth greens are grown like other green crops. Amaranths do well in hot, high light conditions, producing edible foliage in summer conditions. Plant 1/4 ounce of seed to 250 feet of bed and cover to inch or less depth. Amaranths do best on sunny, raised beds. Plants should be thinned to 6 inches apart. Plants respond to well fertilized soils and irrigation during hot summers.
Selection - Harvest greens 5 to 6 weeks after sowing. As with most greens crops, the young succulent leaves are preferred for eating. The greens are tied in bunches and sold in cartons by the bunch or by the pound. Keep amaranth greens refrigerated or iced in shipment or storage.