Tag Archives: edible amaranth

Gardening with friends

I love to garden with friends.  With such a nice start to my week, my ambitions nearly exceeded my stamina yesterday.  It had finally become time to work on garden D.

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Its hard to decide where to put garden space.  Gardens are a strange thing.  They take up a lot of space physically and mentally.  For 6 months my girlfriend and I have been talking about what to do with this space.  I had to figure out what her vision for the space was and how I could fit in my needs. If you’re going to dig up so much space in a friends yard you need to make sure that friend will be okay with it. This is the biggest garden I’m putting in outside of my own yard.  The last thing I want to do is anything that would put a wedge in this friendship.

It was with some trepidation that I gathered up my seeds and went to my girlfriend’s house.  The worry was unwarranted.  My sweet husband manned the tiller and our friend Gary mowed the grass.  I admire my husband so much for being such an amazing machine.  It’s like he can’t even feel the heat of the sun beating down on him.  We decided to do four foot wide beds that were about 60 feet long.  Soon my girlfriend and I were raking out the dirt and planting seeds.

We worked away and about 20 feet down the third row look at each other and giggled.  We’d been discussing our plans for going to different farmers markets to sell vegetables and talking about the different vegetables we like.  She is full of ideas and hopes to plant enough garden to cut flowers to sell from.  The pleasant conversation and the working of the soil worked like magic on our souls.  When we looked at each other we couldn’t help but giggle at the wonderful time we were having.  Our work connected us and let us feel connected to the earth and everything around us.  We planted 3 rows of vegetables and thought about how much of it we could possibly eat.  Hopefully there will be enough to fill out a table at a farmers market after we have taken our share.

The day was hard work but we finished it with a sense of satisfaction. We also had the joy of knowing we had had a pleasant afternoon.  Sustainability is easier with friends and it’s a joy to achieve with friends.

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After this we sat with our gatorade and look at a book she had gotten at the library.  I was impressed with all the fantastic projects it had in it.  Easy simple ideas to really help around the garden.  Check it out at the link below.

Planted yesterday:

Some of these are the brand I planted and some are not.  They are the type however and I am providing these links for convenience sake.  It is late and hot for lettuce, but these two varieties are supposed to be better in the heat and we will shade the beds where they grow.

We are so excited to see what our friendship will grow and how it will grow.  I love gardening with friends.  Try it!

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Taiwan Spinach

This week at the international grocery store they had Taiwan spinach.  I love this green!  I lack the vocabulary to describe why it meshes so well with my taste buds.  I was first introduced to it at a Sunday morning dim sum located in University City.  Oh, Lu Lu, how I love your food.  Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant makes some killer dim sum.  (And they are one of the few places with bubble tea in town.)  The ladies come around with the carts instead of a weird buffet thing like many of the restaurants here in the St. Louis area.  You never know what is going to come around and be available which is half the fun.  The particular dish that introduced me to this green involved steaming the spinach and dressing it with a soy sauce/ sesame oil mixture.  Fantastic!

Amaranthus gangeticus (Chinese spinach or taiwan spinach)

This edible amaranth grows about 14 inches high, but can be higher when flowering.  The seeds and greens are edible, but the flowers are not.  This is a warm weather crop.  Seeds should be germinated in the dark (with a row cover) at about 50 degrees fahrenheit.  These plants will not stand frost or freezing.  This green likes loose, sandy, and fertile soil.  It can’t stand compacted soil so a good cover of straw or frequent hoeing will help it’s growth.

3 Ways to Harvest (about 6-8 weeks):

  1.  Pinch tips and let regrow.
  2. Pull out whole plant when it reaches about 10 inches.
  3. Cut plant back to about an inch an a half above the ground to regrow.

This plant can put out a pretty hefty harvest apparently with proper thinning or cutting back.

I like this variety of edible amaranth probably best of all I have tried.  It has a really satisfying and hearty taste.  It also lacks the bitterness of some of the red tinged cultivars.  So here is what we ate tonight (I had no idea what call it):

Chinese Spinach and Mushroom Grits Bake

  • 1 1/2 Cups Grits
  • 5 TBS oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • one large king oyster mushroom (half pound)
  • 2 TBS dry sherry
  • 1 lb Chinese spinach, washed and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 lb firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS Pinoy Curat Spiced Coconut Vinegar
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce (cock sauce)
  • 1 TBS Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 TBS Dark soy sauce with mushroom flavor
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook Grits according to directions and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 TBS oil in large pan.
  4. Add the onions, leeks, and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are caramelized. Set aside.
  5. De glaze the pan with the sherry, add the salt and cook until dry.
  6. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  7. In a separate skillet, heat remaining oil.
  8. Add the garlic and basil.  Simmer until garlic is golden brown.
  9. In food processor, add contents of skillet, tofu, lemon juice, Pinoy Curat, sriracha, Chinese 5 spice, and soy sauce.  Blend until smooth.
  10. Add tofu mixture to vegetable mixture.
  11. In large casserole, layer half of the grits on the bottom.  Gently smooth vegetable mixture on top of grits.  Top with remaining grits as completely as possible.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  13. When baking is complete, turn off oven, crack open and let rest in oven to cool for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Now that gardening season is creeping ever closer, consider giving this vegetable a try.  So good.  Why not make a spot in your garden for some new and unusual greens this summer?

Seed Sources:

Evergreen Seeds

Kitazawa Seed Co.

and my favorite local seed company:  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds