In this episode Mark Macdonald of West Coast Seeds joins Hilary to discuss growing the grain quinoa. While many grains are impractical to grow in a home garden or smaller farm, the dense seed heads on quinoa plants provide high yields in compact spaces and provide a great option to those who might be interested in growing grains at home.
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Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), is an annual grain crop from the Andes Mountains. It's part of the plant family Amaranthaceae, and is related to the popular flower/grain crop Amaranth.
Quinoa plants needs 100 days from seed to harvest. Optimal soil germination temperatures range from 18-24°C (65-75°F), and in that range seeds should germinate in 4-10 days.
Plants can grow up to 6' tall and may require some staking. I'd recommend growing along a fence or in a block so that you can easily wrangle the plants with some stakes and twine.
The varieties that are currently available as seed tend to be better adapted for milder growing climates, but the grain is grown all over the North America.
Watch out for slug damage when the plants are young, but once your seedlings are established your quinoa crop should be relatively low maintenance.
Late in the summer, the seed head on your quinoa plants should turn from green to the color of your finished crop. At this point, if you touch the seed heads and grains start to drop, you know your plants are ready to harvest.
Harvest your grains while the weather is still warm and dry. Hang plants to dry for a few more weeks after harvest and then thresh the grain.
Store threshed grain in an air-tight container such as a jar or ziplock bag.
Rise grains before cooking, and enjoy!
Check out West Coast Seeds stunning quinoa varieties here!
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More about our Guest Expert:
For the last ten seasons, Mark Macdonald has been growing, tasting, photographing, and writing about the ever-expanding selection at West Coast Seeds. Mark’s product descriptions, photos, and growing instructions are featured on the company’s seed packets, print catalogue, website, and Garden Wisdom blog. He is a passionate evangelist of sustainable organic growing systems, and promoter of biodiversity on small farms.
About the Host:
Hello, I’m Hilary Dahl. Outside of this podcast, my job is to help beginning and experienced growers create beautiful and productive gardens. I have the unique experience of working in on a wide range of projects, from small backyard garden plots to multi-acre vegetable farms. I also work in my own garden every day when I get home. This podcast is an opportunity to discuss seasonal garden topics and share the the joy of growing your own food.