Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains you could consume. It originated from South America but was ignored for centuries. This is most probably because people didn’t know what this grain could offer until scientists discovered its benefits.
Today, quinoa is one of the famous superfoods, perfect for health-conscious people. And surprisingly, you can also grow this grain in your garden if you want!
This article will share the steps on how to grow quinoa and how you can take care of it so you can have a successful harvest!
Before you learn how to grow quinoa, what’s this superfood?
Quinoa is a South American ancient grain cultivated in ancient years, but it wasn’t discovered fully until recently scientists found out how healthy it was for us.
The seeds and leaves of quinoa are both edible. In fact, the leaves are high in iron and calcium, and the seeds contain iron and zinc.
But what about its taste?
Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavor and an earthy aroma. It’s higher in protein than most other grains. That’s why it makes an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans who want to get their daily dose of protein without eating meat or dairy products.
Since it’s rich in protein, it contains all the beneficial amino acids your body needs to function properly. It also has lots of fiber and antioxidants, especially flavonoids, which are thought to help reduce inflammation in the body.
Ways how to grow quinoa
There are different ways how to grow quinoa, and we’ll discuss three of them, which are:
- How to grow quinoa from seed indoors?
- How to grow quinoa using direct seeding?
- How to grow quinoa in fabric planters?
How to grow quinoa from seed indoors?
If you live in a short-season climate, starting quinoa indoors is ideal. Here’s how to do it.
- Get some trays or pots.
- Put a thin layer of soil on your tray or pot.
- Sow your quinoa seeds five weeks before the last spring frost in your place.
- Make sure to put your trays or pot under grow light or in your window where there is sunlight.
- Mist your soil often because moisture is essential in germinating seeds.
Things to remember about this method.
- Keep your growth light for at least 16 hours per day.
- Maintain the moisture of your soil.
- Seeds typically germinate five days after sowing.
- Once they become seedlings and there’s already a second set of true leaves, you can fertilize them using a diluted water-soluble organic fertilizer.
- Once the frost has passed, you can start transplanting them into your garden.
How to grow quinoa using direct seeding?
If you choose this method, you can use raised beds. Here’s how to grow quinoa through direct seeding.
- Prepare your raised garden in mid-spring by mixing your soil with aged manure or compost.
- You can also apply a slow-release organic fertilizer.
- Sow your seeds only when the soil reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s when the last spring frost has passed.
- Direct sow your quinoa seeds but not too deep.
- Give them spaces three inches apart.
- Maintain the soil evenly moist by misting it for the next 4 to 7 days.
- Place a row cover on top to retain the soil’s moisture.
- Check your planting regularly by lifting the cover.
- If the soil feels dry, mist it.
- Once your seeds have sprouted, you can remove the row cover.
How to grow quinoa in fabric planters?
You can use planters to grow quinoa if you don’t have a garden. Here’s how to do it.
- Choose a planter. We recommend using fabric planters because it’s well-draining and has many sizes to choose from.
- Ensure that your planter is at least 2 feet across, sufficient for growing five to six quinoa plants.
- Fill your fabric planter with one-third of compost and two-thirds potting mix.
- You can also feed your crop with a slow-release organic fertilizer as a preparation for summer.
- Sow your quinoa seeds with a space of 3 inches apart.
- Maintain the soil moisture by misting it whenever it looks dry.
- Once your quinoa becomes tall, you can support it with fences or trellises.
How to take care of quinoa after planting?
Now that you’ve finally learned how to grow quinoa, it’s time to care for it. But how do you do so? Here are four things you need to keep an eye on when growing quinoa.
You can thin your seedlings when they reach a few inches tall. Give them at least 12 to 18 inches apart if you’re growing taller varieties. Meanwhile, for shorter varieties, you can just set their foot apart.
You can save the thinking in salads. But if you’re planning to grow quinoa for the greens, then 8 to 10 inches of space apart is enough.
You need to keep the soil of your quinoa plant moist. If there are occasional rains, that would be enough. But if not, you need to water them. Just remember to stop watering them when summer ends and when you can see the seed heads.
Young quinoa hate weeds. Make sure to get rid of the leaves around your plant.
Qunio plants can grow taller. In fact, some can reach up to 8 feet. That being said, you need to support them. You can stake them when they reach 2 to 3 feet tall. Use bamboo stakes to secure your plants.
What pests should you watch out for?
Like any other crop, quinoa may attract a few pests.
Leaf miners are a common problem for quinoa farmers. The larvae of these pests eat through the leaves of your plants and can cause them to turn yellow and soon fall off the plant. You’ll want to find them in the early stages before they can do real damage.
You can check for leaf miners by looking at the underside of your quinoa plant when it’s green and healthy. If it’s covered in little white dots, you have leaf miners. Check your plants daily to spot any new infestations as soon as possible!
Slug damage can occur on quinoa plants’ leaves, stems, and seeds. The damage is caused by slugs and snails. If you are growing your own quinoa this year, you should also be aware of this problem.
The slug infestation can be controlled using Sluggo, a snail and slug control solution. It is available in liquid and granular forms. It has been used successfully in many parts of the world to control slugs and snails.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from your plant. They’re not harmful to the plant itself. It’s just that they can cause damage to your crop if they’re left unchecked.
First, to prevent aphids from attacking your quinoa plant, ensure that it is planted in well-drained soil and with plenty of sunlight. You should also monitor your plant for aphids near the base of the stem. If you spot them there, spray them with soapy water and then wipe off any excess sap.
Grow quinoa today!
It’s time to look at quinoa in a new light!
Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and all these play a role in your overall health. With a little planning and effort, you can surely learn how to grow quinoa yourself and reap all the benefits without worrying about grocery shopping just to get some quinoa!