Do you like adding chia seeds to your oatmeal, granola, and pudding? Do you like sprinkling them to your smoothie? If you like using them in almost anything, you might be considering growing them in your own garden instead of buying them all the time.
Chia seeds are edible seeds that belong to the family tree of flowering plants in the sage family, they are native to central and southern Mexico. Chia seeds are oval in shape with gray, black, and white spots with a diameter of 2 millimeters. They are hydrophilic, they can up to swallow water up to 12x its volume when soaked in water. Chia seeds are known and a staple food since antiquity by the Aztecs. It was offered to the Aztec gods as a sacrifice in religious ceremonies.
If you haven’t planted microgreens before, you must be wondering how to grow chia seeds. These seeds are easy to grow so they are best for newbies or those who only started gardening recently. The best part is you don’t need a lot of space in growing your microgreens.
Here, we answered all the burning questions you might want to ask about growing these seeds, including how to harvest chia seeds and how long does it take to grow chia seeds. Above else, we will teach you the proper way to do the sprouting test or how to sprout chia seeds on paper towel.
How long does it take to grow chia seeds?
Chia is a quick-growing herbaceous plant. You should see your plant grow in as fast as three days. Don’t worry if your seed has not grown yet after a week. Sometimes, it may take up to two weeks before chia seeds germinate.
How to care for your chia plant?
Once your seeds germinate, place them in a spot where they will get ample light. To increase germination, sprinkle the partially burned pieces of the plant with water. Get rid of any weeds nearby because they can have an impact on the proper growth of your chia plant.
How does the chia plant look like?
When in season, chia plants can grow up to 2 meters tall. The leaves of chia have a dark green color. They are thick and they are heavily wrinkled. Without the flowers, chia plants may look like wheat plants. The flowers have a lavender color and they are usually small.
Chia attracts pests like whiteflies, which are also a common pest seen when growing tomatoes. But because chia is quite delicate as it undergoes sprouting, it’s not advisable to spray them with herbicides.
What kind of soil is best for chia seeds?
Chia can grow in any type of soil. In fact, it can grow even in deserts because it can tolerate every drought or extremely dry climate. But for the best result, make sure your soil is well-drained. If you’re using garden soil, mix them with some compost and fertilizer. Spray the plant with water at least once a month. Keep checking the weather in your area, while it is true that the chia plant thrives in a dry climate, keep watering the plant on a regular monthly basis.
The ideal soil pH for the best growth possible is between 6.0 and 8.0, to properly check the pH level dig at least 2 inches of soil. If the soil’s pH level is either too basic or too acidic the Chia won’t be able to grow properly, so its best to adjust it accordingly.
More than the type of soil, it’s important to know how much sun your chia needs. Your chia plant needs to get plenty of sunshine to grow faster and bigger. It is recommended that the chia plant receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Since chia plants are hardy, you don’t need to worry if the seeds will dry out or not. That said, you might be wondering if chia can also grow indoors. Yes, you can sprinkle the seeds on a garden tray using moist or well-drained soil.
It takes about 6-8 months for the chia to blossom and attains its full height. As you continue to check and water the plants, keep monitoring their stages of growth also. After 6 months have passed, they should have reached a height of 3 feet. Only start harvesting the seeds once the chia is dried and brown, and harvesting them too early will only reduce its quality.
Can you plant chia seeds bought from the grocery?
You can use the seeds from the grocery, but take note that not all types of seeds are guaranteed to germinate. You can check the quality of your seeds by looking at the color. Black and white seeds are said to be the best colors of chia seeds. Brown seeds might be old seeds.
To know if your seeds are good, do the sprouting test. In a tissue or wool, take at least three samples.
When you have to choose between sprouting seed and “for planting” seed, go for the sprouting seed. In some regions, chia seeds for gardening are already treated with fungicides. It may be harmful to eat seeds that have been treated with chemicals.
How to sprout chia seeds on paper towel? First, take random samples from every lot of seed you have and mix those in a container. Second, gather the seed samples from the mixed grain.
Every seven days or 10 days, check to see that the absorbent material stayed moist. Write down the number of seeds that germinated.
Some gardeners rinse the chia seeds first before planting them. Just remember not to soak the seeds or they will decompose. It’s followed by draining them in a mesh strain. It’s done to separate the broken seeds from the good ones.
Chia seeds are also coveted for their nutritional benefits. These seeds are often touted as one of the best seeds that have the highest nutritional values. They are known to help lower cholesterol levels and improving abdomen health. Chia seeds are also added to less nutritional items such as an ingredient to some pastries and snacks, to appeal more to the health-conscious consumers.
When consumed in a balanced diet, Chia seeds may help prevent the development of different chronic ailments. Chia seeds have a high percentage of linoleic and alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acids. The word fatty acids might put off some of you, but these fatty acids are actually beneficial to your health. These fatty acids are actually omega-3 fatty acids which studies have shown to be beneficial to improving your cardiovascular health and lowering cholesterol.
Chia seeds also contain fiber that can also help to lower LDL cholesterol levels and slow digestion, which prevents spikes of sugar levels after eating. This is especially beneficial to people that have diabetes.
When serving the Chia seeds, don’t worry that its taste will affect your recipe. Chia seeds are versatile ingredients and it has little to no flavor at all, so they won’t affect the taste of your dishes at all. They soften when they come in contact with any liquids making it less detectable in texture.
How to harvest chia seeds?
Harvesting chia seeds is recommended to do when the plant is around a couple of inches tall.
In order for you to harvest seeds, you have to wait for your chia plant to have a flower. For an easy harvest, make sure the flower heads are slightly dried. If you’re not successful at blooming flowers, you can still use the leaves in making chia tea.
You can start getting the seeds once you see that most of the petals have fallen off the flower.
Put them in paper bags or on a drying rack where they should stay for some time. During the process, you can expect some to break free. Chia seeds last for 4-5 years without refrigeration. It is recommended to store them in a cool, dry spot.
Eating chia fresh from your garden ensures you’re getting the best quality of seeds. You can eat as much as you want. Chia is high in protein and it also contains healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants to keep you healthy. They have eight times more omega-3 than salmon and twice more potassium than bananas.
Did you know that chia can offer five times the calcium you can get from milk? You will only need three tablespoons of chia seeds to get the same calcium you will get from a glass of milk. So go ahead and use chia in many ways. You can use them as an ingredient for drinks, baked goods, and breakfast bowls.
Chia seeds are small but they are big in terms of nutrition content. They aren’t just good for your body. They are also one of the best ones to have at home because they are easy to grow regardless of soil type and amount of sun your place gets.