Growing Potted Amaranth Grain: A Science Project

culverplanter13September 20, 2011

Greetings!

I am a student currently enrolled in a high school science research program. I have elected to study the "effects of biostimulants (organic matter) on the growth of amaranthus hypochondriacus (http://www.saltspringseeds.com/scoop/powerfood.htm).";

I am looking to grow, in a relatively compact space, a burgundy strain of the grain amaranth. I can afford, maybe a basic greenhouse or other planting materials up to $300-ish.

I have done some basic research - there really isn't a lot of information about the novel crop - that states the plant does not thrive / do well in pots. I'm not looking to grow the plants to maturation (up to 6-8 ft tall), simply to a couple of feet should do. I'm looking to grow maybe 5-10 plants. Is there any contraption/design that you, knowledgeable garden friends, might work? I literally have zero garden experience, but I am very excited to work with this beautiful crop!

I welcome any advice / words of wisdom / questions regarding my project.

Thank you in advance, and best of luck.

Culverplanter13

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howelbama(7 NJ)

Culver, the problem that I see is that organics dont really work well with containers. The idea behind organics is thriving microbial life in the soil and containers are a closed system, the microbial life in a container is unstable at best. To test the organics effects you would be better off planting in the ground, or a large raised bed.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 3:21PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Culver, the problem that I see is that organics dont really work well with containers. The idea behind organics is thriving microbial life in the soil and containers are a closed system, the microbial life in a container is unstable at best. To test the organics effects you would be better off planting in the ground, or a large raised bed.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 5:44PM
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doginthegarden

I don't know about the organics question/issue, but I can add that I have grown a lot of green amaranth plants in containers and find it to be a very robust container vegs. They volunteered in a number of containers (so be careful about putting the seed heads into your compost!) and have survived lotta sun, no sun, hot hot weather, over- and under- watering, bunnies eating off all the lower branches, being cut way back, etc. All my newbie mistakes didn't deter them. Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 3:22AM
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culverplanter13

@howel: it would definitely be preferably indoors, but I simply don't have that luxury. Indoor's the only way to go for me.

@sbmw: amaranth are hardy things. which is nice for me. Have you grow grain amaranth in containers? And, what exactly are you referring to in regards to "heads into your compost"?

Thanks for the tip!

Also. Do you think if I simply purchase an enclosed DIY Plastic indoor greenhouse, with heater/ventilation/fan ect that the plants can thrive? Also, what about pots? Will simple 7 in by 7 in pots from Lowe's suffice for drainage? Terra cotta/ceramic with some holes?

Thanks for all you help.
CP13

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 10:31AM
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doginthegarden

Re CP13's question: I am growing amaranth that was seeded into a compost/soil pile I inherited when a friend moved away (she'd bagged it all up so how could I say no?!). I had dozens of volunteers come up in containers that were planted with other seeds. They have dark green leaves and stems are topped with large light-green grain aka seedheads. That is what I meant about careful in the compost, as it seems that's how I got so many volunteer seedlings. So far I have harvested and cooked leaves a few times, much like a coarser spinach. I have not yet cooked the grain, I suppose it needs to be dried first?

Just the other day I was thinking I might try seeding the amaranth as a cover crop on some garden space that is currently sitting under weed-killing black plastic (that needs to come off before it disintegrates into little pieces) but that I won't put beds into for a while. The friend also gave me a big bag of seeds marked "Callaloo" which is apparently the Caribbean name for Amaranth, plus I have plenty more seeds now.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 7:29PM
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doginthegarden

One other thing - I think you mentioned a 7" x 7" pot - I would recommend a larger pot. I've grown mine mostly in 5 gallon black nursery pots and bigger than that would be my preference. I don't think terra-cotta vs. plastic matters much. Maybe 5-gallon buckets would work, you could try to get some free ones from restaurants or bakeries if they are tossing them (ingredients come in them). And yes you want drainage holes and maybe some extra perlite or other drainage agent in the pot to help the container drain well, am sure a search on this board will get you some advice on that. In my experience amaranth likes hot weather so keep them warm!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 8:26PM
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culverplanter13

Thanks for the response!

I've found 10 by 10 by 15 in pots - you think that should suffice? They are made from pine, and they do not have a bottom - that is to say, they are four-sided? Do you think that will work, drainage wise? I was thinking I would put a rubber pond liner or something like that on the bottom, a layer of gravel, and some soil.

Best,
CP13

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 10:52AM
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