Like all amaranths, calaloo has edible leaves and seed, and has a huge range of leaf colours, shape and size. Once established, plants are quite drought tolerant. Calaloo grows well even outside in the UK. If starting indoors, sow in modules at 15-22°C. Germination is quick, within 7-10 days, but plants grow slowly until mid to late April (due to low light levels in the UK) so there isn’t much gained from sowing earlier. Plant out once frosts are past. If sowing directly outside, wait until soil temperatures are 15°C or over. In warm damp conditions, first leaves can be picked weeks after sowing. Remove flower heads to keep leaf production.

Growing calendar for calaloo

Regina Walker

Richard Walker. Photo: Sara Heitlinger


Seed Guardian, Spitalfields City Farm

I’m a community gardener at Spitalfields City Farm. I’m responsible for a little area of land, 0.167 acre, a community garden. And I run workshops on that land as well as growing vegetables on that...

Why I grow calaloo
The food that I, and a lot of my volunteers cook, involves a lot of leafy greens. Calaloo is a persistent source of leafy greens throughout the summer. It’s quite drought tolerant, and I’m trying to do everything here without mains water. And I just really enjoy the flavour.

Where the seeds came from
It was hybridised here from a Nigerian calaloo and a Jamaican calaloo, so it’s got hints of red from the Jamaican calaloo and hints of green from the Nigerian one. It came from my friend Joan 2 years ago. I should have kept the strains pure but they crossed.

How to grow
It needs to be really warm to germinate, so you would wait till May, June, maybe you’d even get away with July and still get a crop off of it. If you wanted to start them off in modules inside in a warm place, you could do that. Pot it on, then plant it outside when it gets really nice and warm. Or you could sow it directly into well prepared soil. It needs lots of sun.

Regina on Calaloo