A vigorous patch of amaranth in the garden. Butterflies, birds, and beneficial insects love it!
Amaranth is one of the most prolific vegetable that grows here at the homestead (I live on a Los Angeles urban farm in a tiny house). While young, it’s a tasty vegetable that is delicious in salad, soup, and stir fries. A single plant produces THOUSANDS of tiny shiny black seeds (that birds LOVE) and it’ll reseed at the end of the season, so you’ll get baby amaranths popping all over the place in the coming months and years.
For me, amaranth is a very pretty and useful vegetable that isn’t used as much as it should be. People generally know of amaranth seeds, but not the green vegetable. The greens are high in vitamins A, B, C and K, minerals, and iron (great for those suffering from anemia)!
It’s an Old World plant, originating in the states, Mexico, and South America. The entire plant was used, the seeds are packed with protein and can be ground into a flour. The Aztecs, Incans, and Mayas relied on amaranth and its nutritious seeds.
The pretty magenta flower spikes are what I use to get a very beautiful color. Certain species of amaranth are known for producing beautiful dye. One variety is called Hopi Red Dye, used by the Hopi for coloring their cornbread red, in addition as a fabric dye.
Getting color from the flower spikes is very easy. I used about a handful of flower and lightly simmered it in a little bit of water. It didn’t take long for the color to appear!
One thing about plant inks is that it’s extremely simple to make and you know exactly what’s in it. There are no chemicals and they are safe to use around children and pets! I can even pour spoiled plant inks back into the garden!
Another reason why I enjoy making my plant inks is that it grows in the garden and I can harvest them by just stepping out of my tiny house!
Close up of the magenta flower spikes. Each spike contains thousands of tiny black seeds.
The pretty ink it makes. Spooky the homestead cat makes sure I'm doing my job.