Information may be of interest to those who care about their health and loved ones, and at the same time own a backyard or dacha plot. Special agronomic knowledge, according to experienced plant growers, is not necessary here. However, there are features that need to be taken into account in order for crops to produce a good harvest. At the same time, the benefits will be enormous, since it is possible to provide with useful products not only yourself.
Pantry of all nutrients
Many centuries ago, this plant was recognized as a real pantry of vitamins, microelements and other beneficial substances that can cure people and animals from many diseases, give beauty, and also prolong youth and life. The meaning of amaranth lies in the name itself, because in translation from Greek the plant is called “unfading flower”. People also call it the “winter friend of the people,” and one of the reasons was the ability of the plant to keep its shape for 3-4 months. Therefore, in the winter, amaranth can be dried, and all the useful substances are preserved. As a grain and vegetable crop, it is especially popular with the mountain peoples of India, Pakistan, Nepal and China.
The great popularity is explained by the whole complex of useful substances, where one of the main ones can be called squalene. It is a biological compound, a natural unsaturated hydrocarbon, which captures the missing atoms from any available source, and in the body it is water. Squalene reacts with water, releasing oxygen, which then enters all organs and tissues. This feature is extremely important, since oxygen deficiency leads to early aging of the body, the emergence and development of tumors, and when squalene enters the body, cell renewal occurs, a barrier to malignant tumors is created, and the immune system is strengthened.
Among other substances found in amaranth, calcium also deserves special attention. It is necessary for the normal functioning of muscle tissue, myocardium, nervous system, and when calcium deficiency develops primary and secondary osteoporosis, frequent fractures occur. Here it can be noted that the amount of calcium in the same part of the plant may be different depending on the stage of development: during the period when the seeds begin to ripen, there is more calcium in the leaves than in the stems and inflorescences, and at the same stage the maximum magnesium in the leaves. This plant is also valued for its high protein content, which is easily digested and several times higher than the analogue contained in meat. If we talk about the nutritional value of the plant, the leaves contain 23 calories, and in the seeds – 371.
Amaranth contains 10 types of vitamins and microelements, which make it indispensable in the treatment of many diseases. In addition, the use of amaranth can reduce the likelihood of unwanted side effects caused by the action of drugs. Due to the unique properties of the plant, it has long been considered the source of strength and health, used in modern medicine for the manufacture of drugs. Today amaranth is used in various countries in cases where there is:
• inflammation of the genitourinary system;
• gastric and duodenal ulcer;
Amaranth helps with a variety of skin diseases and burns, contributes to the rapid recovery of damaged cells. Its use strengthens the body in avitaminosis, nervous and physical exhaustion, the threat of the formation of malignant tumors.
The healing properties of amaranth are manifested when this plant is used in animal husbandry. Animals do not get sick, and their products are safe and of high quality. Therefore, amaranth is often used as a feed crop, many of its species are used to produce grain, green dressing and silage. So, grain is great for poultry, greens and silage – for cattle and pigs. Therefore, it is not surprising that interest in growing this crop is growing, and not only among farmers, but also among summer residents. Today, depending on your needs, you can pick up any of 105 species of amaranth, which is also known as shchiritsa, marigold, axamitnik, cockerel scallops, cat tail, and fox tail.
What seeds are considered “correct”
We note immediately that it is better to purchase amaranth seeds in specialized stores. The fact is that, buying seeds from an unscrupulous seller, you can not get the sort that was needed, because amaranth is a plant with cross-pollination, and cultivars can “mix” with wild plant species.
It should also be noted that the seeds of dark color are characteristic of ornamental species of amaranth. They are not suitable for food. Seeds of vegetable and grain types are usually light colored.
In order to grow a high-yielding vegetable type of amaranth, it is recommended to choose such varieties as:
• “In memory of Covas”;
All of them have valuable nutritional qualities.
Sowing and growing
Note that for a climate with a short summer, amaranth is better planted in the first decade of February, but in this case it is necessary to provide additional culture and highlight the temperature, since young seedlings develop faster at an average temperature of 22-25 degrees Celsius. In other cases, the best time is the end of April – the beginning of May, when the soil warms up well (up to + 6 °) and is saturated with moisture. It grows well on sandy soils (in the Kherson region, for example), in areas of high-risk farming.
Amaranth is considered an unpretentious plant, because it does not require special conditions for the composition of the soil, but the addition of additional nutrients is perceived by this plant well. The site for growing amaranth can be fertilized. Suitable for this:
• Nitrogen and potash fertilizers.
Seeds are sown to a depth of 1-2 cm (if the sandy soil is a little deeper) in rows at a distance of 45 cm, but there are also differences. Thus, a 25×70 cm scheme is recommended for vegetable amaranth, and 60×70 cm is better for grain, and between seeds should be 7-10 cm, and after sowing it is good to harrow several times. Light rolling is necessary to press the seeds firmly to the ground.
To facilitate the sowing of seeds into the soil, it is recommended to pre-mix them with sand (river), ash or wood chips at a ratio of 1:15. The optimal seeding rate is 15 g of seeds per hundred. Under favorable conditions, the first shoots appear no later than 12 days after sowing. The first leaves can be removed by mid-June, and by the fall the amaranth grows up to two meters high, and the weight of one plant (cut 20 cm from the ground) can reach 3 kg.
Care and possible yield
Amaranth does not require special care, but one should be prepared for the fact that at first growth will be very slow. As the plant develops and nutrients accumulate, the process accelerates, and during the day the amaranth can grow by 5-7 cm. Growth becomes more active with proper watering: despite the fact that this culture tolerates drought, young amaranth is better on particularly hot days water it. Only when he grows up and pick up a large green mass, it can be watered less often.
Feed for amaranth is also very moderate: 3-4 times during the season. Here it is better to use special complex feeding, bought in the store, or a mixture of mullein (animal waste products mixed with bedding) and ash. Many plant growers prefer organic fertilizers: extract of mullein (1:10), wood resin diluted in water (2 cups per 10 l). At the same time top dressing is combined with watering. Choosing this or that type of top dressing, it is important not to overdo it with those that contain a large amount of nitrogen, because the leaves of amaranth grown on such dressing, and without this rich in nitrogen, it is better not to eat.
Amaranth belongs to the category of green manure plants that can improve soil fertility and prevent weeds from rising. Therefore, around it weeds practically do not appear, and frequent weeding is not required here. To weed the seedlings of the plant is necessary in the period of its intensive growth to preserve moisture and heat in the soil.
Pinching is also practiced, and thanks to it, side shoots can be stimulated. As a result, the yield increases. You can find messages that managed to reach the yield of green mass of amaranth in the range of 100-150 and even 200 tons per hectare. However, here it is necessary to take into account the weather conditions, the soil and feeding, because due to them the result may differ by half. In most cases, according to users who grow amaranth, yields of 60-70 tons are achieved.
Amaranth greens can be used for therapeutic purposes when the plant reaches a height of 25-30 cm. Leaves can be harvested from the lower tiers of the plant throughout the summer until late autumn: all the time the amaranth grows, it can be consumed, harvested for the winter and for the manufacture of healing tools. Grains are harvested when the upper leaves become cream-colored, and the seeds have a sign of easy shedding. It is recommended to dry greens under a canopy, in drafts, without access of sunshine. Store cut amaranth should be in a dry, dark and well-ventilated place, in linen or paper bags in suspension.