How to Grow Amaranth and Quinoa Microgreens

by 2/5/2019 • 12/17/2018

Amaranth is a family of vegetables cultivated for both the seeds and leafy vegetables. Quinoa belongs to the amaranth family vegetables, specifically cultivated for its grains.

Amaranth and Quinoa microgreens is the easiest microgreens to grow, which makes it perfect for novice growers.

Organic Amaranth seeds are also one of the cheapest seeds on the market, which can be found as low as 5 dollars a pound at the time of this writing. And tt's quick growth cycle means that you can harvest your first batch in as little as 1 week.

Quinoa seeds can also be found in just about any health food store. Quinoa is more expensive than amaranth, but its larger seeds translates to faster and bigger growth than amaranth.

Amaranth and quinoa microgreens are better than sprouts in terms of antioxidant capacity. For more information, check out my article on the difference between sprouts and microgreens here.

Health Benefits of Amaranth and Quinoa

Amaranth is rich in vitamin A, B, C and K. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It’s nutritional profile is well balanced and not skewed towards any vitamin or mineral.

Surprisingly, amaranth microgreens both have more antioxidants than kale microgreens.

Quinoa have double the concentration of total polyphenols versus amaranth, while amaranth have higher antioxidant activity versus quinoa (1). Pound per pound, growing amaranth microgreens is the most cost-effective method to fight cancer

Quinoa seeds are rich in protein and low in fat. So, if you're a vegitarian, the dual usage of quinoa seeds as a protein source and a microgreens seeds is greatly advantagous in terms of space saving for storage.

Preparation of the growing medium

For growing periods less than two weeks, the best media for growing microgreens is peat moss. A thin layer of 0.5 to 1 inch of peat moss is sufficient to deliver consistent moisture for quinoa and amarant microgreens.

Peat moss medium must be moistened before usage. Peat moss repels water and floats on top of it when dry and compacted. Mix peat moss vigorously with water by addding water a little bit at a time. Drain excess water.

Another additive that you should consider when growing quinoa is vermiculite. Vermiculite helps to further retain moisture and also provides aeration. Vermiculite can be added up to 10% of the total medium by weight.

There’s little added benefit with adding fertilizer or rock dust because amaranth's root structure will not be robust enough at the time of harvest to utilize resources in the growing medium. However, lighting is a major contributor to the antioxidant content of amaranth.

Growing Quinoa Microgreens

Soaking amaranth seeds is not necessary. My experimental data on amaranth seeds soaked for 0, 1, and 3 hours showed that there is no statistical difference in the rate or amount of germination. However, amaranth has a low germination rate of 66%.

Amaranth seeds
Amaranth Seeds
Quinoa seeds
Quinoa Seeds

Amaranth originates from tropical climates, which means that for the germination period, you should either cover the container or layer the amaranth seeds with a thin layer of growing medium. It's critical that the seeds do not dry out during germination.

It's possible to seed it as densely as possible without limiting its growth. However, amaranth and quinoa should be seeded at half of the maximum seeding rate.

Seeding at the maximum rate carries the risk of fungal infections. Moreover, if you are covering the seeds instead of putting extra growing medium, the cover should be removed after 2-3 days to decrease humidity. Humidity is a contributing factor of fungal infections.

The seed covering of quinoa is usually removed (hulled) at the processing factory. Hulled seeds can still germinate if they were not sterlized by the processing. This seed covering contains saponins gives quinoa that really bitter taste. The seed husks will come off on its own 5 to 6 days after germination.

Harvesting Quinoa Microgreens

Amaranth Microgreens
Amaranth Microgreens Growing Container

According to a study on quinoa and amaranth microgreens, antioxidant activity for quinoa and amaranth is highest at 4 to 6 days after seeding (1). The scientist in this study didn't grow these plants beyond 6 days however.

And even though the peak is at 4 days for antioxidant activity of amaranth, anthocyanin content peaks at 6 days. So whether you harvest at 4 days or 6 days, they are both still extremely beneficial for your health.

At 4 to 6 days, quiona is approximately 1 inch (3 cm) high and amaranth is at 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) high. To harvest you quinoa microgreens, use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the stem.

However, keep the roots intact if you are storing them for longer than a day. Simply wash off excess growing media with water.

The taste of quinoa microgreens is fragrant and light, not too bitter and not phenolic at all. They are great to eat as a salad.

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Citations

  1. Pawel Pasko. Anthocyanins, total polyphenols and antioxidant activity in amaranth and quinoa seeds and sprouts during their growth

About the Author

Jason Lee

I am the author of this website and owner of growyourmicrogreens.com. I am an hobbyist gardener and a passionate scientist. I was trained as a scientist in the Molecular Genetics program in University of Toronto, where I received my Masters of Science and published a journal article.

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