Quinoa is a wonderful, nutritious seed that has many uses in the kitchen. Pronounced keen-wah, this little pseudo-grain is high in protein and gluten-free. That makes it an excellent addition to any diet.
Quinoa plant is widely considered as part of the grain family, but this plant is actually a broad leaf plant. What makes it similar to grains is the way its seeds are used, and the Quinoa seeds are used to make flour, soups, cereals, and alcohol. They have been cultivated since antiquity in South American Andes as a staple food, and it is considered by the Incas as a sacred food.
What makes Quinoa really special is that this plant’s seeds are filled with protein. This makes it highly wanted by vegetarians as a replacement to meat consumption for source of protein, and also by bodybuilders to promote further muscle growth. However due to high demand, the prices on Quinoa have skyrocketed and this makes it difficult to find and procure which is not beneficial or practical to consumers.
As a consumer and a gardener yourself, it seems to be the best option to just plant Quinoa yourself, and surprisingly it is actually not hard. This plant is easy to grow, easy to harvest, incredibly adaptable, and a hardy plant as well. Growing quinoa at home is certainly possible and is a great way to become self-sustaining. Discover how to grow quinoa to save on your grocery bills.
Where to grow quinoa
Surprisingly, quinoa is a relatively hardy crop. It can be grown anywhere up to climate zone 4. Those in warmer climates may need to provide cover for their quinoa on days that climb over 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius. This plant is even drought resistant and it does not need much maintenance in your part to successfully plant it. Although a garden is best, you can learn how to grow quinoa indoors.
It is best to plant quinoa in your garden so that you can sow enough seeds to yield a healthy crop. The most effective soil is a well-drained loam with added organic matter and high nitrogen content. However, it can be grown in soil with a compacted clay base. The ideal pH level of your soil is between 6.0-7.5 and always make sure to keep the weeds out of the soil.
When deciding how to grow quinoa indoors, you must be aware of a few considerations. The first is that although quinoa does not have a massive root system, it will grow in proportion to the size of your container. In the garden quinoa can reach a height of six feet. In a small container it may only reach a height of two feet. This obviously will make a difference in how much seed you can harvest from the plant.
Where to get quinoa
You may be surprised to learn that you can grow quinoa from store bought seed. That’s right, the very seed you buy to serve at dinner is the same that can grow new plants. All you need to make sure of is that the seed is not polished. It does not matter if it is pre-rinsed or unrinsed.
If you have a bag of quinoa available, you should do a quick test to see if the seeds are viable. Although the seed can stay potent for up to eight years, it can be difficult to know how long your particular seeds sat in storage before you bought them from the store.
A germination test is a simple way to tell if you can grow quinoa from store bought seed. All you need is some paper towels and a ziploc bag. Fold the paper towel into quarters. Thoroughly soak it with water. Place ten seeds in between the paper towel. Then put the paper towel inside the ziploc bag and store it in a warm (but not hot!) place. You should see evidence of sprouting within four days.
How to grow quinoa
If you have a long growing season, there is no need to start your quinoa seeds indoors. You can plant them directly into your garden. However, if you have a risk of frost anytime after April, you should start them as seedlings inside. Make sure that you plant it early in the season where the soil temperature is still at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15°C). As the months go on and the temperature increases, it won’t be as ideal for planting your quinoa, since high temperatures in your soil will impede growth and seed development. In hot dry climates, you may want to plant them in early summer or early fall for winter harvest.
Prepare your seed trays with rich soil, preferably with compost mixed in. Make sure the soil is loose and light. Plant the seeds about one-quarter of an inch deep in the seed trays. Cover them up with a bit of composted soil. Next you need to be sure they have plenty of water. One trick to avoid flooding out your seeds is to mist the soil with a spray bottle. Cover the tray with a dome and place it in a warm, well-lit location. The location should receive the full light from the sun. You will begin to see sprouts within ten days of planting.
Before you transplant the seedlings to your garden or a container, make sure that the soil in their new home is well-worked so the roots have a chance to take hold. They should be ready to transplant at about six weeks of age. Place seedlings about twelve inches apart in rows that are about twenty-four inches from each other. Once they are in the garden, be careful not to overwater them. Just continually make sure that soil is moist and not dry until they sprout, especially so in its early days. Quinoa is drought resistant and prefers dryer soil conditions. While it is true that the quinoa plant can not only thrive in hot climates, they can also thrive in rainy climates and even grow twice more taller and more productive.
Make sure to continually weed the surroundings of your quinoa plant until they are 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall. Once they reach the required height, they will shade out the weeds which will cut its access off from sunlight and die.
Sowing quinoa directly into the garden is relatively simple. Work some compost into the garden and prepare rows that are approximately twenty-four inches apart. Plant quinoa seeds every six inches, making sure they are no deeper than one-quarter of an inch deep. Sprinkle soil on top of them and watch for growth. Once the seedlings are well established, thin them out so they are spaced twelve inches apart.
How to harvest quinoa
The beauty of a plant like quinoa is that it does not require special equipment to harvest the seeds. It can all be done by hand.
Your quinoa should mature at around 100 days from planting. You can tell that the quinoa is ready to harvest because the leaves will turn brown and fall off. If you are concerned with how to harvest quinoa before you get frost, you can cut the stalks and bring them inside to finish curing. Check the seeds by pushing into them with your fingernail. If they do not leave a dent then they are ready to come off.
You have several options for harvesting the seeds. One way you can do this is simply by running your hand along the stalk. The seeds should easily fall off into your cupped hand. Another method is to cut the stalks at the base and bring them inside. You can run your hand down the stem and the seeds should fall into a container that you put underneath.
Your seeds may have quite a bit of chaff mixed amongst them. Put water in the container and lightly swish it until the chaff rises to the top. Then you can easily skim it off. Soaking the seeds also helps remove the saponin which is the substance that gives your quinoa a bitter taste and unusual smell when cooked.
Knowing how to grow quinoa is a useful skill. There is nothing quite like the pride you feel when you eat food harvested from your own garden. It also gives you a greater appreciation for what you are eating and even will save you money as well!. This healthy seed is a great crop to grow at home.
There are other healthy herbs and grains that you can easily grow like the quinoa such as Wheat and Rice. These grains also do not need much space to grow in your garden, won’t cost much to grow, and they can as well save you money! Learn to grow other grains and herbs with our website today!