We are excited to share this important crop with the world and support Urban Growers Collective in the process. Here is what they say about this variety:
This delicious variegated variety of amaranth provides nourishment and beauty for all, and has cultural significance globally! With hues ranging from sage green to a deep forest verde and magenta-pink undertones on the underside of the leaf, it is delicious at all stages of its growth cycle. When true leaves form in early spring it makes a colorful addition to a salad mix with a mild nutty flavor. As it grows, prior to producing its flower, the greens can be sautéed and stewed and make a wonderful addition to any pot of greens. As it produces a flower, it can be saved for seed or used as a filler for flower bouquets. It is truly the most versatile and abundant plant on our farms! It will self sow every year - so, if used in a controlled environment, capture the seed heads before they form. Grows up to 6' tall!
All photos by Urban Growers Collective.
Days to maturity: 30
Seeds per pack: 100
Germination rate: 92% on 09/02/2021
Planting / harvesting notes
Callaloo is an extremely self-sufficient crop. Expect germination between 10-20 days, and fast growth after that. To get a head start on the season, sow seeds 2-4 weeks before the last frost lightly covered in pots or trays in a greenhouse or sunny window. Transplant 1-2' apart into the garden a couple weeks after the last frost, when the soil has warmed a bit. At this point on our farm, callaloo has seeded itself enough that we harvest many young, tender plants whole at 12" as a way of thinning, but the plants we allow to mature are given about 2' space in each direction. Mature plants have deep pink taproots that allow them to go long periods of time without watering, and shoot up thick, bushy branches.
Seed keeping notes
Callaloo is wind pollinated and can cross pollinate with many varieties of Amaranth. Isolate by a minimum of 500 feet or cover the flowers with corn tassel bags to prevent unwanted cross pollination. Seeds are ready when they start dropping from the seed head, which matures after the flower dies back. You can cut the whole seed head and hang it to dry and mature further in a dry, ventilated place, or you can shake it while still on the plant every day or two, as the seeds ripen at different times starting from the bottom to the tip. Either way, shake the plant in a bucket to release the seeds. Use a strainer to sift out the larger chaff. Use your breath, wind, or fans to winnow off lighter weight chaff.
Our grower, Urban Growers Collective in Chicago, saved these callaloo (leaf amaranth) seeds and sent them partially cleaned to us at Truelove Seeds for our seed catalog. They asked us to make a video showing how we further cleaned the seeds so that they can do it with their future harvests. Here you go!