I'm very lucky to have a few friends who live quite near by and live a very similar lifestyle.
Last year when I was at one friends house I was very impressed with their beautiful quinoa growing in their back paddock, I asked them to take a few pictures so I could post it on the blog and she's written a great description of what they did below.
"We planted a 100 square foot bed with about 120 plants. The seeds germinated really easily in the greenhouse in a normal large plug tray. I planted them out when they were between 10-15cm high about a 10 to 12 inch spacing between each plant and row. They didn't need staking but did need protection from cheeky rabbits. Birds will not eat the Quinoa seed as it is coated in saponin so netting overhead isn't needed. I only watered them a couple of times to get established then maybe twice during growing season when weather was really hot for a prolonged period. They were very low maintenance plans. I mulched around the plants with grass cuttings to keep down the weeds. The colours on the Quinoa when it is flowering is stunning - we planted Rainbow Quinoa and had beautiful yellow, orange and red colours throughput the patch.
The seeds are ready once the flowers start to die back and colours go dull on the head of the plant. You can tell when the seeds are dry enough because they come out easily when you rub them between your fingers. We harvested ours on 10th September last year. They take around 90 days from planting to harvest. Once we had picked the flower heads we placed them onto a tarp and threshed them with garden canes. The kids absolutely loved this stage. Once we have a nice pile we passed it thought a garden riddle to get large pieces of leaf and stalk out. We then used a very simple system to winnow the grains using an electric fab to blow the chaff away from the seed, letting the clean seed drop into a bowl. We had to repeat this 2-3 times to get clean grain. We managed to get 2.5kg of grain from a small patch of very heavy clay soil.
I decided I would wash the quinoa before cooking rather than wash the whole harvest then attempt to dry it all out. The quinoa grain needs rinsing in water twice before cooking to get rid of the saponin. I was surprised how easy this was as the grain feels a bit sticky when you handle it. The result was a delicious quinoa that tasted fresher and nuttier than anything I have bought in a shop. A revelation on cooking the quinoa gave amazing results. Use twice as much stock as quinoa, and bring it to the boil then simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (15-20 mins). Once the water is all absorbed, remove the pot from heat, cover it and let the quinoa steam for about 5 minutes."
Thank you Sarah!
I've long been interested in growing grains and trying to provide some of our staples from the garden, for the last few years I've said I was going to try Quinoa but haven't got round to it or haven't had the veg bed space ready.
I've read that it's one of the only grains worth growing on a small scale, especially as maize or corn doesn't grow that well here. From the look of their harvest it certainly looks like it would be worth some garden space in the future and she's given me with some seed to start my own if I want to.
What do you think?
Have you ever grown quinoa or another grain to eat?
How did you find it? Was it worth the effort? Is there another grain type crop that yields as well in a small space?