Amaranth is an edible annual plant which thrives in warm weather. The leaves and stem are used in stews, stir-fry and soup. The seeds can be used as micro greens (Red amaranth sprouts looks adorable when garnished on salads). Some varieties of Amaranth are used as food, some as ornamental and others grow as weeds. The two major varieties used for food are Green amaranth & Red amaranth.
The seeds are smaller than mustard seeds. They take three to five days to germinate. The seedlings are too tender, direct sowing is recommended when the temperature warms up in late spring. The seeds can also be started indoors, but wait for 2 to 3 true leaves before transplanting.
Amaranth is an easy to grow plant which pretty much takes care of itself. While planting give a boost of fertilizer and water the plants whenever the soil feels dry. If it gets enough nutrition the plants can grow over 5 feet. Once the plant growth is over it will send flowers(inflorescence) red or green or brownish yellow at the very tip of the plant and is packed with lots of seeds. [The flowers and seeds resemble Celosia plant]
Harvest the leaves whenever needed. Harvesting can be done by cutting the stems leaving three leaf nodes, this encourages the plant to branch. The leaves will have more flavor before the plants begin to flower. The amaranth stem is somewhat similar to asparagus but more flavorful (good flavor!!). The easiest way to use amaranth stem is add to a soup.
Dry weather will be perfect to harvest seeds at the end of the season. Clip the seed heads over in a bucket/basket and let it dry for couple of days. The real game here is who is going to get the seeds first: human or birds.
Some varieties of Amaranth are grown for the grain (produce large flower head). Most of the Amaranth varieties can be used for harvesting leaves. Rub the seed heads in between your hands or shake them to separate the seeds. Separating the seeds outdoor on a windy day is a bad idea.
Tip: Red leaves will retain its color after cooking (like red beetroot). Some caterpillars do like to munch on these leaves.