Amaranth, Callaloo or Love-Lies-Bleeding?

This week in the garden the cooler, wetter weather has caused the tomato plants to put on a new spurt of growth with many new side shoots appearing complete with flower trusses. We are likely to have an extended harvesting season if this trend continues! So tomato harvesting is still very much on our jobs list. 

We have the usual harvesting, weeding and waterings to do, plus the after care for our semi-ripe cuttings. They need to be checked regularly to ensure that they are neither too wet nor too dry. The art of making successful cuttings is to get exactly the right balance allowing neither rotting nor dehydration to occur and if this is done then it should lead to cuttings that will root successfully to become healthy independent new plants.

There is some tidying to do behind the upper greenhouse, entailing cutting back brambles and bindweed and sorting out crates and stacking them.There is also quite a lot of compost to turn..

We are harvesting our potatoes. Potatoes are ready to harvest any time after the foliage starts to go yellow and die back. We have grown ‘Pink Fir Apple’ a maincrop potato with a pink skin and cream, waxy flesh. It has a long, knobbly shape. Originally, it was imported to the UK from France in 1850. It has a wonderful nutty, earthy flavour and is great boiled, steamed or in salads. Come and help us dig up some and try them out! 

Another plant that has drawn a lot of attention during the summer is the large amaranth plant  over 6 foot tall that is growing in the raised bed near the kitchen. Its attractive deep purple /red foliage has caused many a garden visitor to ask, what is that?  Amaranthus caudatus is a plant that is known under many names, in the West Indies it is often referred to as Callaloo, but it has other names such as Laf Sag, Lalshank, and Tangerio. The English call it Love-Lies-Bleeding. It can be grown for its leaves or for its seeds, both of which are edible.  Amaranthus leaves, eaten young (lightly boiled, with a knob of butter added) are similar to spinach.

In Jamaica, callaloo is often combined with saltfish and is usually seasoned with tomatoes, onion, escallion, scotch bonnet peppers and margarine/cooking oil and steamed. It is often eaten with roasted breadfruit, boiled green bananas and dumplings and it is a popular breakfast dish.

In Grenada, callaloo is steamed with garlic, onion and coconut milk and often eaten as a side dish. Grenadians also stir or blend the mixture until it has a smooth consistent texture. Callaloo soup comprising callaloo, okra (optional), dumplings, ground provision like yam, potato (sweet and “Irish”) chicken and beef is traditionally eaten on Saturdays. 

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