As more people turn towards home-grown crops for healthier eating, the nutrient-filled quinoa plant is gaining popularity. While it’s been grown for millennia, quinoa is still somewhat obscure to some gardeners. This article outlines how to grow quinoa plants at home with tips on how to harvest healthy seedlings.
Quinoa is a warm-season crop that thrives in regions that receive average daytime temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21degrees C.) and nighttime temperatures that dip below 60 degrees F. (16 degrees C.). It does best in full sun with some tolerance for light afternoon shade.
Your quinoa can be grown in containers as long as it receives at least six hours of full sun per day. The quinoa plant will be tall and require a sturdy trellis or pole to grow on.
Quinoa thrives in a light, sandy soil where moisture can drain. Use an all-purpose, loamy, high-organic soil mix that is well-draining, fertile, and high in organic matter.
As with all plants, water your quinoa regularly, especially in the first weeks of germinating, and its seedlings are most vulnerable. After that, you can get by with more moderate watering as long as the soil is moist. It is important to water your quinoa daily when it is flowering to encourage pollination.
Temperature & Humidity
Quinoa plants do best in cool, dry climates, and they do not thrive in hot temperatures. Hot temperatures can hurt the growth of quinoa plants, which affects the number of seeds that can be harvested.
Quinoa does not need a rich diet to thrive. It does best when given a shallow amount of organic compost or fertilizer such as bone meal, fishbone meal, or cottonseed meal. As long as your soil is well-draining, you will not need to amend it for quinoa.
Quinoa is generally ready for harvest about 120 days after planting. Harvest your quinoa when the seeds have dried to a milky color, and the outer portion of the plant begins to wither. If the seeds are still green, they are not ready to harvest.
You can easily harvest quinoa seeds by pulling a few plants up by the roots or simply walking through the field and pulling off the quinoa heads. Sort the heads of seeds by rubbing the seeds between your hands and then taking the seeds out of the “hair.”
Common Pests and Diseases
The most common pests include aphids and cutworms. Aphids suck the sap from quinoa plants and cause a sticky residue on the foliage.
Cutworms are the larvae of moths called Noctuid. They feed on the stems and leaves of quinoa plants and can cause the plant to be stunted or even killed if the infestation is severe.
Grow Your Quinoa Today
Quinoa is an easy crop to grow at home. The plants are prolifically seeded and will continue to produce as long as you keep harvesting the seeds. Quinoa is easy to grow and can be harvested in 120 days or less. The seeds are generally ready to harvest when the flowers are dry and the seeds are a milky color. After harvesting, you can use your quinoa seeds to make food at home.
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