Monthly Archives: March 2019

Amazing Amaranth – Eat the Weeds

Amaranth is a little-grown nutritional powerhouse with a wide variety of species. There are both ornamental and edible varieties. It’s a beautiful addition to unused garden space or flower bed. Due to amaranth’s abundant seed production, plants in the Amaranthaceae family tend to naturalize and are common weeds of both gardens and crops. Because this maligned family gets labeled “weed”, gardeners are, unfortunately, unaware of this magnificent food crop. All parts of amaranths are edible (seeds, stems, seeds), however there is oxalic acid in this plant, comparable to spinach, so some moderation is a good idea. To collect amaranth seeds, simply rub the mature seed heads over a bowl – easy.

Pigweed and Lambs Quarters

Pigweed, and another similar plant, Lambs Quarters, were incredible pests when I first started my wildflower bed. These weeds are found EVERYWHERE where there is disturbed ground, gardens, roadsides, fields, etc. They are significant crop weeds. Leaves are tender and slightly bitter when young. Both plants can be used similar to and taste somewhat like spinach. If you allow these to grow in your garden, top plants before they seed or you might have some angry neighbors.

Strawberry Spinach

This smaller heirloom variety of amaranth has bright-red, berry-like seeds that look like strawberries. The “berries” do not have significant flavor and taste is similar to the rest of the plant. The leaves are tender and edible. This plant makes a beautiful and unique addition to both a garden and a salad.

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Failed Citrus Grafts

About 2 years ago, I received a Moro Blood Orange Tree as a gift. This tree spends the summers outside and the winters inside near the west window of the house. This past fall, our weather stayed very warm late into the season. I made the mistake of over-estimating the cold-hardiness of the Moro orange tree. A couple nights, the temperature dipped into the high 20’s. Upon bringing the tree into the house, all the leaves fell, and branches turned black.

Failed Orange Graft

Failed moro orange graft

Weak graft failed when temperatures dipped below 25F.

Now, Moro orange is supposed to be hardy to zone 9, or around 20F-25F for its lowest temperature. Much of this hardiness is owed to the fact that most dwarf Moro orange trees are grafted to Trifolate orange rootstock. Trifolate orange is one of the hardiest citrus, and can even be grown in warmer or protected areas of zone 5. It is unusual in that this tree is deciduous, which helps protect it in freezing temperatures.

When my tree was exposed to the cold temps, the union between the Trifolate rootstock, and the Moro scion (which was probably weak to begin with) failed, leading to the death of the scion.  Earlier in the season, this tree had shown some areas of chlorosis, or leaf yellowing, and the area around the graft appeared to be girdling the tree a bit. It’s likely this graft would have failed eventually anyway, as the trunk was growing at a much different rate than the scion, and the graft was not strong.

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