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Growing Quinoa

April 20, 2012

Quinoa ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow’ growing in my garden. Image captured near sunset.

Gardening is about experimentation. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to grow quinoa? I found the organic seed at a nursery that carries Botanical Interests seeds (Like). Quinoa, especially red (Like) is only one of the colors. If you were in my garden you’d see raspberry, gold, orange and tan. A Maine garden blogger noted the plumes resemble those of astilbe.

Quinoa is a cool season crop so I planted it in early November. If you live in a cold climate there’s still time to plant: Sow outside one to two weeks after average last frost when soil temperatures are near 60 degrees F. (Seed packet)

The plants are tall, now three to four feet and their seed heads are weighty. Because of unusually strong winds and recent storms, I staked them. The quinoa plants are about six inches apart, closer than the seed packet recommends. I actually planted the seeds about four inches apart and let the seedlings sort themselves out. Here the quinoa grow with orange wind poppies, purple larkspur, Iceland poppies and radicchio.

There’s an excellent guide on Growing Quinoa from Salt Spring Seeds. I’ve read several places that the leaves are edible. The young leaves can be added to salads and more mature greens used like spinach or chard. When it’s time to harvest, you’ll see more in a Harvest Monday post.

Quinoa in Peru at 3800 meters.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Certified fair trade quinoa producers in Ecuador.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Coronado Flower Show Today, April 21st

A Study in Purple and Orange