This legendary plant is familiar to mankind from ancient historical times. The Latin name Amaraythus in Slavic territory sounded like Amaranth, bearing another name – schiritsa. The birthplace of this miracle is South America. Here, in addition to gastronomic use, amaranth had decorative functions, being an ornament of the garden and dwelling.
In ancient Aztec and Inca amaranth seeds were on the list of edible cereals, and in East Asia it was grown as a vegetable. On European soil, the flower turned out to be due to the development of the ocean fleet and lovers of decorating their gardens with exotic flowers. In the 17th century, the plant became a fodder crop for livestock and cereals for its host porridge, while protecting it against a host of diseases.
Amaranth stems may look empty or rather branched. Leaves of various shapes – from elongated to wide. Flower bunches represent various shades of green, burgundy and red, including violet and golden colors. The fruit is represented by a medium-sized seed in a hard shell. The culture is able to grow up to three meters and in the middle climate zone is considered one-year.
Growing amaranth seeds
Flower survival depends on the geographical area. The plant can not live in the cold. The soil should be heated to 10 ° С, and the planting depth should not go beyond the range of 2–5 cm. Before sowing, it is necessary to enrich the soil with fertilizers in the form of mineral mixtures. At the end of the second month of spring, the seed is planted in a furrow of moist soil to a depth of 2 cm. It is more convenient to operate with a mixture of seeds with sawdust or sand (1:20) – this facilitates the process.
The interval of planting seeds will be from 7 to 10 cm, and the width of the aisle between rows is 45 cm. Experienced gardeners retain the clarity of such markings by discarding additional components and planting seeds in their pure form. After 8 to 10 days, the first shoots will appear, which should be thinned, loosening the soil between them. When amaranth is planted in the last month of spring, we have to deal with weeds.
Amaranth will fully mature in 3–3.5 months. However, when the stems reach a height of 20 cm, do not forget to make a nitrogen feed. At the same time you should not abuse fertilizer. Enough to use half the recommended amount.
For receiving seedling of a flower, disembarkation of seeds is made in the last days of March. For this it is better to adapt plastic containers or small flower pots. Before planting, the soil is moistened and lowered to a depth of 2 cm.
Contain future seedlings in a lighted room with a temperature of up to 22 ° C. Regular moistening is done with a water spray. After a week, shoots will appear. They need to thin out, getting rid of frail shoots. After appearing on sprouts of three leaves, they are transplanted in separate pots.
In open ground, seedlings are transferred from mid to late May. At this time, the garden soil is warm enough, and night frosts are excluded. The soil of the non-shaded area is loosened and fertilized with lime and a complex nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium product – a nitroammofoska (calculated at 20 g / m2). Amaranth is an unpretentious culture, but he does not like cold weather and excess moisture.
How to plant a crop
The scheme of planting amaranth is determined by its variety. The interval between individual seedlings in each row is 10–30 cm. Rows are separated by intervals of 45–70 cm. In the initial — adaptation period, seedlings require abundant watering and immediate protection by the film in case of a cold snap.
Amaranth cultivation technology
The initial period of formation of seedlings is rather long. In the first month of slow growth, the flowers are regularly watered and weeded, the soil is loosened. After the seedling matures and the growth is accelerated to 7 cm / day, amaranth leaves no chance for weeds. When its roots go deep into the ground, regular watering loses relevance. The exception may be too dry summer.
Soil fertilizers are applied up to four times a season. The best top dressing is considered to be ash in the amount of 20 g / liter of water and a bovine solution with a ratio of 1: 5. Fertilization is carried out after the morning watering of seedlings.
What is sick amaranth
Despite the resistance of the crop to diseases and pests, it sometimes suffers from weevil and aphids. Their larvae slow down the growth of amaranth, parasitizing on its stems. If the summer season turns out to be rainy, the aphid damages the initial stage of flower development. The fight against this pest is carried out with the help of korbofos and actellicom. The same drug is effective in destroying weevil.
When the moisture concentration in the soil near the root there is a likelihood of fungal diseases. The fight against them is reduced to spraying the plants with copper sulfate, preparations of copper oxychloride and colloidal sulfur.
Collection of amaranth seeds after flowering
To get good seeds you need to select the most developed stems. Do not deprive them of leaf cover. After the lower leaves fall off and the stem becomes whitish, the inflorescences are cut from it. They are dried and, rubbing crispy panicles in their palms, collect syrupny grains. After sifting, mature seed can transfer 5 years of storage.
Amaranth in winter
Culture does not tolerate the winter cold, and therefore landed annually with the onset of a warm spring. At the end of the harvesting, the waste of the stems and tops is used to feed livestock and poultry. They contain a large amount of protein, protein, vitamin C and carotene. In addition, in the pit for compost, you can get the perfect fertilizer.
Today, the scientific community considers amaranth one of the most important plants for humanity. This is a unique food and source of healing from many diseases. The use of amaranth extends to all parts of the plant, but naturally, its seeds are most valued. The list of fruit components includes vital for the body: palmitic, oleic, stearic and linoleic acids.
Their presence determines the dietary properties of the products produced. Along with this, pantole and bile acids, steroids, carotene, rutin, vitamins are present: E, C, B, B, P. And the content of liquid carbon in amaranth, squalene, helps protect against cancer. The leaves of the plant are rich in protein and in this respect are even superior to generally accepted spinach.
The amaranth protein contains lysine, an amino acid essential to humans. And the amount of the protein itself is not inferior to the nutritional soy level indicator. However, the absorption of amaranth protein is much easier than wheat, maize and soy protein. To understand the nutritional value of the plant is given its analogy with squid meat. With the regular inclusion of amaranth in the diet, the human essence rejuvenates, restoring the energy of life.
Not only vegetable varieties are used for salads, but also decorative ones that are no less abundant in protein, vitamins and microelements. As for seeds from decorative varieties, it is not recommended to include them in the menu. They are easily distinguishable by darker color.
The energy and chemical value of germinated amaranth seeds is similar to that of a nursing mother. The oil obtained from the plant, twice the healing properties of sea buckthorn. Cosmetics based on it put an antibacterial barrier, improve tone and work on skin rejuvenation.
Amaranth tea treats atherosclerosis, dysbacteriosis, neurosis and relieves from obesity. Its grains have a beneficial effect on the work of the kidneys, liver and eliminate the problems of the urogenital system. Adenoma and cardiovascular diseases are also subject to its effects. The regular presence of amaranth in the food boosts immunity and prevents the oncological tumors.
Vegetable salads with the addition of amaranth strengthen the body and prolong human life. Bread with flour from amaranth grains lasts longer and has a pleasant taste. The nutty flavor of roasted seeds goes very well with the muffin sprinkled with them. A leaf of a flower embedded in canned tomatoes and cucumbers will retain their elastic properties.
On this therapeutic and gastronomic properties of amaranth are far from exhausted. However, each human body has its own characteristics, which should be considered when consuming a plant. If you have any doubts about the absence of personal contraindications, medical consultation will not hurt.