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Quinoa Mid-Way

March 6, 2011

Quinoa is a staple food item in our kitchen.  I like to cook it pilaf-style with vegetable or mushroom broth and I usually throw a handful in whatever soup/stew I happen to be making.  It made sense to try to grow it in the garden this winter.  Quinoa is a short day, cool weather crop, which means in Los Angeles, I should be planting this in the middle of winter instead of waiting for March.  Basic growing information for this high-protein food crop can be found here.

Like almost all of the plants I’ve had experience with, the Rainbow Quinoa did not grow as expected.  I planted 2 rows of 6 in the raised beds in January.  I only saw two sprouts come up from this location, which i attribute to a combo of strong winds, suddenly warm weather (90 degrees F), then a downpour of rain…all during the week I was looking out for seed germination.  The two plants that made it are now about 3 ft tall, and there are seed heads growing at the head of every branch on each of the plants.  I can’t wait to see these guys change into their red, gold, & yellow colors when it’s time to harvest.

The strange & amazing thing is that I noticed that these plants grow just about anywhere.  Most of the seeds I planted didn’t end up sprouting in the raised bed.  Instead, I’ve been seeding quinoa sprouts popping up all over the other parts of the garden, and even the front yard!  They are literally everywhere – against the back wall, behind the nopales, next to the sprinkler system controls, under the passion fruit vine.  None of them are in the way or taking over another plant’s spot, so I’m just going to leave all of them where they are and check them out in about a month.  If they’re still doing well, I’ll put up some pictures.

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