How to Grow Quinoa
There are usually two different types of people; those who love taking the easy roads and prefer to buy their quinoa seeds ready from the grocery stores and supermarkets, and there are those who take the longer roads but which eventually bring them to something beautiful such as growing their own quinoa seeds in their gardens. Being the second type of person means that you are well aware of some of the rules related to gardening in general and that is why giving you important tips to know how it is considered best to grow your seeds will be understandable to a great extent. Keep reading this article in order to know more about growing quinoa in your personal garden.
Can You Grow Quinoa?
A lot of those people who consume quinoa seeds and then realize that they taste good and at the same time deliver different benefits for the overall body, start thinking about whether they could grow these seeds in their own gardens or not and start digging deep behind all the information that will be considered useful for them to complete such a goal. Growing quinoa in your garden is considered possible and something that you could manage to do but you should also know how such a process should start.
Quinoa, which is pronounced as keen-wah, is a pseudo-cereal that is referred to as a whole grain for carrying the same benefits that grains carry, while in fact it is a seed. This plant seed has a complete protein profile and complete protein means that it has the ability to provide the body with the nine essential amino acids needed. Quinoa in general, whether the black, the white, or the red, is considered important and beneficial and that is why people should think more about growing it by themselves without going to the supermarket every single time in order to get it.
Where Can Quinoa Be Grown?
Back in the old days, this seed which was considered sacred by the Incas was grown in Bolivia and is still up till this very moment in addition to being grown in Chile and Peru. Although quinoa started to become famous to the Americans lately, it is still not grown there but those plant breeders and scientists who study the biology and economics of quinoa say that this is going to change.
Quinoa is not a grain and does not even come from the family of the traditional grasses that are grown for grains, like wheat, oats, and barley, but it is still referred to as a whole grain. Quinoa is actually a seed and this seed could be used in order to grow it in your personal garden, but this seed is unlike the grassy grains since it blooms with gorgeous flowers before going to a seed. These flowers are usually deep red or purple and look like a large spike of tiny clusters flowers at the top of the stalk.
In order to grow quinoa, you have to understand that it prefers cooler weather and is well suited for more northern growing; this means that the summer of your country should not get hotter than 90F or else the seeds will suffer.
Quinoa Seeds for Growing
Growing your quinoa requires you to know some important information related to the process, and this information starts from the seeds that you are going to plant and ends with storing those seeds after you harvest them.
- Starting from the Seed
There are some seeds which start indoors for transplant, but quinoa seeds are not the same; they can be placed into the garden once the soil has warmed to around 60F. This is usually considered important for making an early spring planting, around the time of your last frost.
In order to plant those seeds, you have to dig the soil beforehand in order to loosen the earth and to kill any early weeds. It is important to get rid of any other growth in the garden before planting your quinoa because it grows slowly and can have some trouble while competing with other fast growing weeds.
When you are planting the seeds, place them in a row by not putting them more than ¼ inches deep. The final plant that you have placed should be 10 to 14 inches apart, so plant a few seeds at each location. If more than one sprouts, just thin down to one in each spot. It is always considered a waste of seed to keep sowing along the entire row and thin out because quinoa quickly germinates, so if any of the seeds don’t sprout, you can replant them almost within the same week.
- The Growing Instructions
After passing by the important planting phase and understanding how it should be done, it is now the time to know about some of the instructions related to quinoa growing. Quinoa is very slow when it comes to the growing process and that is why it is important to do the weeding for the first several weeks in order not to let them suffer when they are crowded by weeds. It is also important to watch your rows when you are weeding in order to make sure that you are not pulling up the quinoa and leaving the weeds to thrive.
Once the quinoa reaches one foot high, it will start to grow faster and should be more self-sufficient. One important tip to keep in your mind about growing quinoa is that this seed can adapt well with dry conditions and do just fine with minimal water, so don’t keep worrying about watering it unless your area has a longer dry spell.
Quinoa plants are considered too large for container gardening, and it is usually impractical to try and grow a couple of plants because the harvest is not worth the effort.
- Dealing with Pests and Disease
If you have never grown quinoa, you should be also well aware of the bitter coat that comes with it and which might lead to some digestion problems. This bitter coat is referred to as saponin, which is important to keep the insects, birds, and other pests from getting into the developing seeds. Apart from the seeds, the leaves on the other hand might be more subjected to damage by insects such as aphids and flea beetles. In order to keep these insects away, the regular pyrethrin-based insecticide sprays can help in keeping them away, but the mature plant can usually withstand any damage from such small insects without much difficulty.
Caterpillars might be also attracted to quinoa but not with a great amount, so whenever you find them on your seeds, you could pick them up and you will be just fine.
- The Last Step of Harvesting and Storage
The last steps to know about in order to grow quinoa correctly, comes in the phase of harvesting and storing them. Quinoa is famously used for its edible seeds, but one of the positive things about it is that its leaves are edible as well, giving you the chance to pick them up, steam them as a cooked green or add them to salads.
In order to know whether your seeds are ready for harvest or not, you have to watch them until the leaves fall off and all what remains are seed heads on a stalk. If you need your seeds to be completely dry, you should try to dent them with your fingernail, if you can put a slight into it then it means that it is still a little bit wet and needs more time to drain and become totally dry. This drying process can happen after you harvest them without the need to keep them outside, just get them in and let them dry before storing them.
As we have mentioned above, the saponin coat that covers those quinoa seeds has a bitter taste and this taste might not be pleasant for the stomach of a lot of people, so in order to get rid of it, wash your seeds well enough. To wash those seeds, place them in a fine-mesh strainer and put them under cold water, let them soak and then rub them well with your both hands in order to remove the bitter taste completely, after you get finished, shake the strainer to get rid of any excess water and then you can use it for cooking.
If you are not going to use it directly then it is important to let it completely dry first before storing it away in a tight container that should be kept in a cool place. Quinoa will most probably last for six months and sometimes even more without any additional or outside help.
Quinoa Seeds to Grow
Quinoa seeds are easy to be grown in your own personal garden and even easy when the time of harvesting comes. There are different reasons for you to grow your quinoa seeds and not buy them from grocery stores; first of all, quinoa is important for fighting several diseases like cancer and heart disease, it is important for the strong bones and teeth, it is also important for constipation and upset stomach, it is good for a healthy hair and skin, and it is also important for several reasons that would just make you more alarmed about not growing it until this moment.
Those who have the chance to grow their seeds should never give it a second thought and should start thinking about adding something new to their gardens, but those who don’t have the chance or the garden to grow these seeds in, should never stop buying and consuming them because their benefits might not be found in other types of foods.