Quinoa is a type of grain crop that is primarily grown for its edible seeds. It is native to the Andean region of South America, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. Quinoa is highly nutritious food that is rich in protein, fibre, and various vitamins and minerals. It is also gluten-free, making it a popular alternative to wheat and other grains for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Quinoa plants can grow up to 6 feet tall and produce small, bead-like seeds that come in a range of colours, including white, red, and black.
How to Grow Quinoa Organically
- Choose a planting site: Quinoa grows best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. It prefers full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade.
- Prepare the soil: Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve fertility and drainage. Quinoa prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
- Plant the seeds: Sow the quinoa seeds directly into the garden bed in early spring, after the last frost. Plant the seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and 4-6 inches apart. Cover the seeds with soil and water gently.
- Water the plants: Quinoa needs consistent moisture to grow well. Water the plants regularly, especially during dry periods.
- Thin the plants: When the seedlings are a few inches tall, thin them to a spacing of about 8-12 inches apart. This will give the plants room to grow and reduce competition for resources.
- Fertilize the plants: Quinoa doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer, but a light application of balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, can help promote healthy growth.
- Harvest the seeds: Quinoa plants will flower in mid-summer and produce seed heads. Wait until the seed heads turn brown, and the seeds are hard before harvesting. Cut the seed heads and hang them upside down in a dry, airy place to dry further. Once the seeds are completely dry, rub them to remove the seed coats. Store the seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
By following these basic steps, you can grow your own quinoa and enjoy its nutritious seeds in a variety of dishes. Quinoa is a hardy plant that is resistant to pests and disease, making it a great crop for beginner gardeners.