The Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is mistakenly considered a cereal. It’s about a herbaceous plant (and not a grass) whose we eat the small seeds but these have nothing in common with wheat, rye or even rice. Moreover, Quinoa belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae, such as spinach, beets or even salicornia. He is great for health because of its richness in vegetable proteins, minerals, vitamins, trace elements and others. The icing on the cake, in addition to being perfectly balanced in amino acids, Quinoa is gluten free. Let’s see how to grow it in the vegetable garden and harvest it.
Quinoa, sometimes called Peruvian rice, is an annual plant that is sown under cover in March/April. Storing the seeds in the refrigerator for 8 days just before sowing them is a good solution to promote germination. It is advisable to sow clearly, in a compost for seedlings, to cover the seeds with a sheet of this compost and to spray. The sown terrines must then be placed in a room where the temperature is between 12 and 18°C and where the seedlings can benefit from subdued light. A frame can be suitable or a veranda.
It is advisable to keep the soil always fresh thanks to misting, and when the seedlings have formed two real leaves, the time has come to move on to transplanting, always under shelter, but in a special planting soil because it is richer than that for sowing. Still a little patience… You can only transplant Quinoa plants in place, in the vegetable garden, when they have 5 leaves.
There is a maximum of 5 plants per m² because when mature, this plant can reach a wingspan of 0.70 m for a height of 1.80 to 2.00 m. Thus, when transplanting in place, it is necessary to think about spacing the plants about fifty centimeters from each other.
Note that Quinoa can be sown in the ground at the beginning of spring in soil amended with well-ripened compost, provided you sow lightly, respect an interval of 50 cm between the rows and protect your seedlings with of a forcing veil as long as the night temperatures do not exceed 10 or 11°C. Again, the watering is done in fine rain after the establishment of the seeds.
This annual herb with decorative foliage is grown as an ornamental plant or as a vegetable car ses edible seeds are delicious and nutritionally remarkable. Note that its flowers bloom in the heart of summer. Of various colours, the panicles are so compact that the effect is striking, bringing a spectacular touch to the garden from the start of summer and which can last until October.
No need to import it from South America where it originates since it can be grown in our climates. Moreover, it is in the Maine et Loire what is theunique French Quinoa production sector with more than 2,000 tons per year.
It supports temperatures of a large amplitude, of the order of -10 to +40°C, and is very resistant to drought. It has a clear preference for loose, humus-rich, cool and well-drained soils with a neutral pH. He likes to be installed under the suncondition sine qua non to encourage its flowering, and the more flowers there are, the more seeds are harvested.
In terms of taste characteristics, two groups of quinoa can be identified: one amer because rich in saponinswhose seeds are washed before export, the other, soft, result of a rigorous selection, devoid of saponin (or which contains very little). You can opt for:
- And Quinoa rouge, which holds up particularly well when cooked and retains its moderately firm texture. It is distinguished by its pronounced taste of very pleasant dried fruits.
- And Quinoa blond (or white) with a subtle nutty flavor and whose seeds are soft and tender.
- And black quinoa, very rare therefore more expensive than the others, whose taste is slightly earthy, but its particularity is to hold its color well when cooked. Visually, the small seeds look like caviar, which brings a refined touch to a mixed salad, for example.
The good idea is to cultivate all three!
Caring for Quinoa in the Garden
Quinoa is so undemanding that it can be grown by a novice gardener.
This herbaceous plant hates excess humidity. We therefore content ourselves with regularly watering just enough to keep the soil cool, and we take great care not to wet the foliage, especially in the middle of summer.
No fertilizer is needed during cultivation as long as Quinoa is planted in sufficiently amended soil.
It is useful to pass the hoe between the Quinoa plants and between the rows at least twice between June and September, on the one hand to prevent the invasion of weeds, on the other hand to keep the soil loose and reduce the number of waterings.
Pests and diseases
Some aphids can be seen on a Quinoa crop, but the attacks are never very important. On the other hand, there is more to fear from the onslaught of gastropods. Indeed, they are very fond of tender leaves. Young plants can therefore suffer. It is interesting to deposit a layer of sand all around the square reserved for the culture of quinoas to fight without chemical product against the slugs and the snails.
This plant is not susceptible to no specific diseaseexcept of course if you water too much because this promotes fungal diseases and plant rot.
Harvest the good Quinoa from the garden
This is from the end of summer that we can finally harvest the seeds of Quinoa. When they break off from the inflorescences, this is the right time. It is therefore necessary to cut the stems in order to bind them in different bouquets which it is necessary to suspend upside down in a ventilated and dry room to allow the inflorescences to finish drying. When they are completely dry, all that remains is to knead them over a large jar for food use in which all the seeds will fall.
Before consuming Quinoa seeds, it is essential to wash them in several baths of cold water in order to rid them of the saponin because, as we specified above, it is this which brings bitterness. This rinsing operation having been completed, the seeds must be spread out in the sun, on a tablecloth, large clean tea towels or absorbent paper. After complete drying, they can be stored in airtight jars Store in a clean, dry room. Conservation can thus be guaranteed for up to 10/12 months, which allows you to always have Quinoa from the vegetable garden on hand.