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Video: Amaranth - Use And Cultivation
Amaranth is widespread throughout the world. This is a genus of annual herbaceous plants, very diverse in height, leaf color, shape of inflorescences.
Botanists distinguish more than 60 species within this vast genus, among which there are wild, weed and cultivated ones. All species are small-seeded (up to 1.5-2 thousand seeds per 1 g), however, seed productivity can reach 100 g per plant, and the seeds remain viable for more than 10 years.
What is amaranth valuable?
In the second half of the 20th century, an in-depth study of this plant began. Chemists, physiologists, technologists, agronomists, specialists in the field of animal husbandry and public catering have joined in the research.
Studies have shown that amaranth seeds and leaves are rich in protein, and the leaves are a valuable source of ascorbic acid, carotene, rutin and other biologically active substances. With a detailed study of the amaranth protein, they found that it contains almost all the amino acids necessary for a person. It contains a lot of lysine, an essential amino acid, the lack of which is felt in a number of other plant proteins, for example, in corn and wheat proteins.
When studying the photosynthesis of this plant, it was found that amaranth has a very high photosynthetic activity even under adverse weather conditions, and its leaves are located so as not to shade each other and to maximize the use of solar energy. This contributes to the fact that in a relatively short growing season, plants are able to accumulate a large vegetative mass.
Some cultivated species (hybrid amaranth, caudate amaranth) turned out to be suitable for livestock feed not only fresh, but also in the form of protein concentrates, as well as in silage mixed with plants with a high sugar content (corn, sorghum) and with herbs.
The concentrated protein mass extracted from the green mass of amaranth was proposed to be used as a valuable protein supplement in human nutrition. The addition of amaranth flour to wheat flour, as studies have shown, not only improves the taste of baked goods (cookies, muffins), but also makes them more useful. Technologists also proposed a recipe for using amaranth flour in the manufacture of dairy products such as sour cream, yoghurts. A study of the oil isolated from amaranth seeds has shown that it has a number of medicinal properties.
The dye from the leaves of red-leaved varieties was recommended as a natural food coloring instead of synthetic dyes, and the starch from amaranth seeds, which has a very fine structure, was recommended for use in perfumery and cosmetic production.
In the conditions of the North-West of Russia, it is impractical to grow amaranth for the purpose of obtaining seeds. This plant is not hardy, and its seeds do not have time to ripen in a short summer. But as a vegetable plant that replaces spinach and is not inferior to it in terms of productivity and quality of greens, amaranth can be used.
Russian breeders have created a number of amaranth varieties. The Valentine's variety is zoned as a vegetable. However, varieties of forage purposes, such as Shuntuk, Kizlyarets, Podmoskovny, Cherginsky, are suitable for use as a vegetable crop in the vegetative phase.
Amaranth is sown in the ground when the threat of frost passes, the soil warms up well and weeds germinate. Before sowing, weeds are removed by harrowing. Seeds are sown with row spacing of 50-70 cm, embedding them to a depth of 0.5-1.0 cm.
Seedlings appear on the 5-8th day after sowing. In the first stages, they grow slowly, but already with the appearance of the 3-4th leaf, growth accelerates, the plants quickly gain vegetative mass, suppress weeds and are not afraid of thickening. At a height of 25-30 cm, the plants are harvested by the roots or cut off, leaving a stump of about 10 cm. Amaranth grows well after cutting from the buds in the lower part of the shoot. Leaves and young shoots can be stewed, fried, baked, used in soups and fresh as a salad. They can be prepared for future use by freezing, canning and drying.
It is advisable to use amaranth as a green manure, it is a good green fertilizer that enriches the soil with nitrogen.
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