Growing quinoa

June 29, 2009 | By | Comments (13)

Last February I introduced quinoa as one of our potential one block crops and explained what goes wrong when planted at the wrong time of year.

We’ve tried again, this time sowing the seeds in April, and the results are much more successful.

Here is what the plants looked like about a month ago:


And here are a couple of shots from today:

P6280005 P6280008

Here are answers to the most commonly posed questions by visitors:

1. What is that?

As I wrote in February, Quinoa is a staple to Andean cultures. It is grown mostly for its edible seed (not a
grain, as it is often mistaken, because it is not from a grass) though
the leaves are also edible. It is a complete
amino acid and is unusually high in protein for a seed.

Here is a link to Sunset recipes with quinoa.

2. I never knew you could grow this in your garden. Is it a good idea?

You can absolutely grow your own quinoa. I recommend Faro, a variety bred for sea level.  It’s probably not the most realistic endeavor since our entire bed (4ft. by 8ft.) will likely yield a serving or two (and some say I’m being optimistic). We’re doing it for fun. Many of us are of the mindset that it’s exciting to grow anything once, even if it’s not the most logical use of space. It’s the same reason we’re growing our own chick peas.

3. Why is that bed of lamb’s quarters being allowed to go to seed?

Great question! Quinoa resembles lamb’s quarters (or pigweed) because they are in the same Genus, Chenopodium. Lamb’s quarters can also be used for their edible leaves, but if you’re like me, all you’ve ever done is weed it.

4. How will you harvest it?

Having never done this before, I’ll follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet: Cut mature seed heads after frost, and dry in an undisturbed place. Thresh when completely dry. Rinse well before cooking. Store seeds in cool, dry, dark conditions.

I’ve always wanted to thresh something….


  1. jennifer m

    would be really interested in a follow-up on this article about how their harvest turned out? wondering how they liked eating the leaves, and how many seeds they got?

    October 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm
  2. Bill

    Pigweed is a name for a weed form of amaranth, not for lamb’s quarters. Lamb’s quarters can be harvested at any stage of growth and the leaves make a tasty and nutritious green, in salads or cooked.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm
  3. dar

    Lamb’s quarters is safe for people to eat and its nutritious too. Sometimes I put very young plants in my salad. I just remove the root and rinse.

    April 23, 2011 at 12:23 am
  4. Thea

    Safety tip: Pigweed (lamb’s quarters) is poisonous to livestock, so even though it’s related to quinoa I doubt it’s safe for human consumption.

    April 13, 2011 at 10:39 am
  5. Kaz

    Excellent info. Just had a dinner party last night and introduced quinoa to everyone for the first time. Everyone loved it!
    I want to know can it be grown in a not so cool climate. As the seed has such a fantastic protein content would like to grow this in Vanuatu. Temperate climate with plenty of rain. If yes what sort of quantities needed to yeild supply for a family of 8???

    June 16, 2010 at 5:43 am
  6. Carla

    This was an excellent arti cle.I’m presenting on Quinoa for a college class and this was the only place I could find really good pictures and days to harvest, and amount of seeds per plant.

    March 3, 2010 at 11:59 am
  7. Tyrone

    were can I buy Quinoa seeds to plant in my garden?

    January 19, 2010 at 2:41 am
  8. Loretta

    I live in a rural area outside of Kansas City.
    In your opinion do you believe it would be possible to grow a larger quantity lets say an acre of quinoa or might the conditions not be unsuitable?
    As I read from Mae Bird she had difficulty getting it to grow. Was it time of year or possibly the high temptures in her area,(although isn’t dry better)?

    July 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm
  9. Queenie Phu

    Recently I served my lemon, olive oil grilled chicken breasts with tabouli and steamed artichoke using tzatziki as a dipping sauce to my dinner guests. After hearing all the good things about quinoa, I decided to substitude bulgur with quinoa in my tabouli. To my surprise, it was one of my greatest hits — I called it “spa cuisine”.

    My inbox was inundated with compliments the very next morning. Everyone agreed how wonderful they felt after the big meal.

    My gratification: it was a quick, inexpensive, and easy dinner I had ever prepared.

    July 18, 2009 at 11:23 pm
  10. Hank

    Wow. This one definitely falls into the “Because I Can” category — nice one!

    June 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm
  11. Laurel

    I’ve tried to grow quinoa this year, and I can’t get it started. The seeds sprout overnight indoors (wrapped in a wet paper towel), but they don’t do anything in the garden bed. I’ve even tried planting sprouted seeds, and I’ve spaced the plantings from April to June. I’m in Reno.

    June 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm
  12. Mae Bird

    This is wonderful! I love Quinoa. It’s so interesting to see what effort goes into growing our food. Thanks for sharing.

    June 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm
  13. KathyG

    Makes me wonder what lambs quarter seed would taste like. Admittedly, the thought of allowing a ‘stand’ of this weed to go to seed on purpose, and risking not harvesting it soon enough, and therefore ‘sowing’ it in the garden, kind of gives me the willies. I already deal with zillions of these guys everywhere, without accidentally-on-purpose planting more!

    June 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s