In the minds of fans amaranth established the opinion that the culture mainly grows in Latin America. Due to this perception of the history of amaranth. However, today the plant has spread throughout the world. And in many countries and regions of the world, it is becoming one of the leading food crops.
For example, today amaranth is widely used in Africa. In particular, in Kenya. We bring to your attention the material Carol Mutua from the Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils. Egerton University.
By the way! Egerton University is Kenya’s state university. It is considered the oldest institution of higher education in Kenya.
The article is interesting because it allows you to understand exactly how amaranth is evaluated in Kenya. As well as what features of growth it has. For fans of amaranth, those who are going to cultivate it in Ukraine (or are already cultivating), the article may become useful.
Amaranth in Kenya: General Information
Amaranth is a herbaceous annual plant belonging to the Amaranthaceae family, with green or red leaves. He has branched flower stalks with small seeds, the color of which vary from cream to gold and from pink to shiny black.
Interesting! In some regions of Kenya, amaranth is known as terere or mchicha.
Amaranths contain antioxidants that fight harmful radicals and therefore prevent cancer. From the seeds they get flour, cook porridge or popcorn.
Amaranth leaves are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A, B and C, but they are low in carbohydrates.
Amaranth grows well on loamy or silty-loamy soils with good water-holding capacity, but it can grow over a wide range of soil types and humidity levels. Soil PH 4.5-8.
Health Benefits of Amaranth
Amaranth is characterized by high protein content. From seeds prepare porridge, get flour. The leaves are prepared as vegetables – by themselves, or with other vegetables common in Kenya.
The main benefits of amaranth for health:
- high content of dietary fiber provides a positive effect on digestion;
- leaf juice is used to treat diarrhea and bleeding;
- amaranth does not contain gluten and is therefore suitable for people who suffer from gluten intolerance;
- vitamin A contained in the leaves, improves eyesight;
- both in leaves, and grains contain a large amount of high-quality vegetable grain;
- amaranth reduces the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood, which reduces the risk of heart disease;
- it contains antioxidants that fight harmful radicals, thereby preventing cancer;
- amaranth lowers blood sugar levels and is therefore good for diabetics;
- high iron content prevents anemia;
- regular consumption of amaranth prevents hair loss and the appearance of premature gray hair.
Amaranth varieties and cultivation features
Amaranth has a large number of species and varieties. In different regions there are different varieties.
Available species, leaf color, taste, and personal preference influence the choice of cultivated variety.
The color of the leaves varies from light green, dark green, red, purple and variegated.
Climatic conditions for the growth of amaranth
Height – grows well at altitudes from 0 to 2400 meters to sea level.
Temperature: grows well in the temperature range of 22-30 ° C. For seed germination requires a minimum temperature of 15 to 17 ° C.
It can be grown in wet and dry seasons. Irrigation is practiced if crops are grown during the dry season.
Private use of water is required at the initial stage of crop growth. Once a culture has been established, rooted, it can withstand drought.
It grows well on loamy or silty-loamy soils with good water-holding capacity. In general, amaranth grows well on soils of various types. Soil PH 4.5-8.
Careful land preparation and well-prepared arable land are needed for good growth. The topsoil is plowed to a depth of 20 centimeters in the dry season and to a depth of 30 centimeters in the rainy season.
The distance between the centers of adjacent grooves should be about 150 cm. Planting is carried out by direct sowing or transplanting seedlings.
It is recommended to evenly distribute the seeds at a speed of from 0.5 to 1.0 g / m2 of the sown area.
Seeds are very small and therefore mixed with sand in the ratio of 1 g of seeds to 100 g of sand. This facilitates sowing of seed and obtaining uniformity of sowing. The seeds are then lightly covered with a layer of compost manure.
For planting rows prepare furrows with a depth of 0.5 to 1 cm, and the distance between the rows is 10 cm.
It is best to carry out seedlings on a cloudy day. For this, pits with a depth of 10 cm are prepared, and a sapling is installed in each. Roots are covered with soil and slightly trampled around the stem. Immediately after transplantation, you need to irrigate the seedling, which will provide better contact with the soil.
How to increase yield
The use of organic fertilizers contributes to the yield of amaranth. In general, the plant is drought-resistant, but the lack of water will reduce the level of harvest. Therefore, it is important to water amaranth immediately after sowing or transplanting.
Over-irrigation should be avoided, as this provokes the development of diseases and leaching of nutrients.
Weeds and Amaranth
Weeds compete for light, water and nutrients, which leads to lower yields. Careful soil preparation means effective weed control.
Weeding is necessary in the early stages of growth.
The first harvest is done when the plants reach a height of 30 cm, approximately six weeks after transplantation.
Cleaning plants can be done by uprooting the entire plant at once or by collecting leaves and tender shoots several times at intervals of 2–3 weeks.
In the end, the plants begin to bloom and produce fewer leaves.
Frequent collection of leaves and shoots delays the beginning of flowering and thereby prolongs the harvest period.