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Who's growing quinoa?

 
Jay Emm
Posts: 21
Location: Southern Ontario, 6A
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Hey, anyone out there growing quinoa? I've searched the forums, but haven't found many recent threads.

I've grown it here in an unusually mild zone 6a summer, and it shot up fast and healthy. I had some in ground and some in pots. It's a beautiful plant.

I got lots of super-delicious greens off the stuff in ground (the greens were great in salad, very tender), but then in July all the in-ground plants started mysteriously dying. They all yellowed, drooped, and dropped their leaves, from the bottom up. I've since read that quinoa needs really good drainage, so I thought maybe my brand-new triple mix might be too heavy for it?

Meanwhile, the ones in potting soil stayed healthy and produced loads of brightly-coloured flowers and seed. Though, the pots in part shade teetered over after the flower heads formed. I kept that seed to replant.

Anyone else trying their luck with quinoa?
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Honor Marie
Posts: 21
Location: San Francisco area, USDA zone 9
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This is my second year growing quinoa and it has worked out well both times. I got the idea to grow them as a lettuce replacement because they produce more leaves per square foot and also still taste good after they flower. The greens are good in salad or cooked. They have a slight mineral flavor, but as long as they are mixed with another green, it isn't noticeable. Last year, I picked more than half the leaves off each plant and still had a big seed harvest.

If anyone has a good technique for harvesting the seeds, let me know! Last year I rubbed the seed heads between my hands, then winnowed with a fan. It was fine, but not going to work on a large scale.

Another awesome thing about quinoa is that you can grow the seeds from the bulk bin at the supermarket. Here in coastal California, I plant in March (when other cold season crops are planted.) Supposedly quinoa crops can be ruined if they get a lot of rain when the seeds are drying, so a summer drought is perfect. My plan for next year is to grow them without any irrigation. The soil is just drying out now (June) and the plants have already set seeds. I have read that a quinoa plant only needs 10 inches of rain to reach maturity.

If we can just work out the problem of threshing at home, quinoa would be the perfect homestead crop for those of us with dry summers.
 
David Hernick
Posts: 54
Location: Oakland, CA
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This is my third year growing quinoa in the SF bay area. I have been able to have something like 5 successful plantings. I plant in either the fall or late winter early spring. Rains have sprouted them on the plants a couple of times, both early and late rains. I have been selecting tough lodging resistant seed from smaller plants. I started with Farro quinoa seed that I got at a seed swap. Most of quinoa is now yellow with some pink when it is ready. I have heard the vacuum leaf chippers help a lot with grain harvest after the seed heads are dry, I am planning to try that on my next harvest since I just got one. Only bummer about growing Quinoa at low elevation, other that cleaning the seed, is that the seeds are smaller than when you grow it at a higher elevation.
 
Jay Emm
Posts: 21
Location: Southern Ontario, 6A
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The idea of using quinoa as a lettuce replacement is a good one. The leaves are tasty - but yeah, I wouldn't want to eat only them. I enjoyed mixing them with kale and a vinaigrette.

Since I was just keeping the seeds for sowing in subsequent years, I don't have any helpful advice about cleaning them. Interesting the point about lower elevation. The seeds my plants produced were sure smaller than the ones from the store. I just assumed that was because of the strain I grow.
 
chris pesenti
Posts: 2
Location: Nevada
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Our quinoa greens have gone from sweet and tender to bitter and tough. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

We had great success with a first planting of quinoa greens while the second batch came out bitter and tough. It's grown at 4,500 ft in Nevada.
Here are some factors that might influence the different outcomes 1st batch/2nd batch:
environment: hoop house/outdoors
sunlight: some shade/direct
temperature: less fluctuation/freezes and frosts
origin: costco quinoa/harvested from 1st batch
harvest: feb-mar/apr-jun
flavor: sweet and tender/bitter and tough

Anything jump out as obvious to anyone?
Thanks!
 
Pamela Smith
Posts: 63
Location: BC Canada Zone 5&6
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This is my second year growing. The first year we had so much lamb's quarter I was not sure which was which. The second year I planted it in buckets and in my greenhouse so I could be sure and to watch its growth. Sadly I planted it too late or simply had too many aphids that came in just before harvest. The seeds never fully ripened. I shall try again next year.

I love the idea of eating the greens in salad.

I know there are many varieties of quinoa besides the 3 main ones. All grow under different temperatures and conditions. Regardless, I want to succeed with the white quinoa because it is the one we enjoy. my soil is very sandy and I get a very wet spring and fall but I will experiment next year planting earlier in the garden and in the greenhouse. Compare to see how they grow. There should be no reason we can not grow quinoa in NA. I know we just need a long enough growing season and with the weather changing I think that may be the problem with growing it successfully right now. Good luck to everyone. If I got time next year I will post my findings and some photos.
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 652
Location: Longbranch, WA
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chris pesenti wrote:Our quinoa greens have gone from sweet and tender to bitter and tough. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Anything jump out as obvious to anyone?
Thanks!

This family seems to try to grow as many leaves as possible during cool damp weather. [which we get a lot of here from Feb. through May] When there is a sudden switch to hot dry weather it concentrates on developing height and seed head. Once the leaves stop growing they transform int a water conserving mode that is yes tough and bitter.  If you want to have greens instead of seed harvest the immature seed head like you would broccoli  and it may send out side shoots of new seed heads.

Because of issues with clearing quack grass I got mine planted late so many of the plants were too small when the hot weather hit early. Without enough early leaf and root growth they bolted as short spindly plants with a small seed head. Those shaded from the hot evening sun got 4 feet tall with large seed heads.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2011
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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A collaborator grew kinwa in one of my fields this year. Another collaborator grew it in a field about 3 miles away. At my place, we only found seeds on 2 plants in a 50 foot row. We didn't find any seeds in the other field. We let the plants shatter in that field, hoping that some seeds might volunteer.  I hadn't planned on growing kinwa, but it looks like I am now, as a weed if nothing else. I suppose that I'll get some grocery store seeds to add to the current population. That fits with my general strategy. Plant a packet of seeds. If anything manages to reproduce. Save seeds from it, and plant them next year. Trial another variety nearby. Perhaps they will cross at least a little. In any case, save seeds from anything that manages to reproduce. By about the third year (of successful reproduction) , the crops are typically doing pretty well. It all starts with surviving long enough to reproduce. So I'm thrilled with a 2% survival rate, and about as much seed as went into the ground.

 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 797
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I am interested in quinoa for seeds. I have enouth lettuce and I want the seeds.
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 652
Location: Longbranch, WA
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Angelika Maier wrote:I am interested in quinoa for seeds. I have enouth lettuce and I want the seeds.

Find a bulk bin supplier and buy a small amount of each color and test them between damp paper towels to se if they will germinate. The ones that germinate buy a pound or 2 and start planting a small patch each week and note when they germinate and when they survive any frost. Then you have found your planting date so plant a larger bed for production. I found the best planting method was to pound the surface of the soil with a spring leaf rake until I had a fluffy surface then scatter the seeds on the surface until there was at least one per square inch and then pound the surface again until most of them were not visible. The white ones are more visible and tend to attract the small birds.

I did the same for amaranth, flax and millet.  The millet and flax did the best but I did not start early as described above so I have started this fall to see how early I can plant..
 
Maureen Atsali
Posts: 145
Location: Western Kenya
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I live in the tropics, a few minutes from the equator - although altitude and the weird weather patterns keep it fairly mild here.  Do you think quinoa can grow here?
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
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Joseph wrote:
So I'm thrilled with a 2% survival rate, and about as much seed as went into the ground.
  That really narrows it down to the hardiest, or... perhaps it's just the luckiest! 
I suppose that I'll get some grocery store seeds to add to the current population.
This is what I'm considering.  I have lambsquarters (a close relative) in my garden as a weed that I like, but was thinking that I would add bulk quinoa to the beds in order to compete with less desirable weeds like hemp nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit).  I doubt that I will have a lack of lambsquarters as it is so hardy, but it would be nice for a relative with a nice flavor profile.

Maureen wrote:
I live in the tropics, a few minutes from the equator - although altitude and the weird weather patterns keep it fairly mild here.  Do you think quinoa can grow here?

Part of the quinoa wikipedia page:
It is grown from coastal regions to over 4,000 m (13,000 ft) in the Andes near the equator, with most of the cultivars being grown between 2,500 m (8,200 ft) and 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Depending on the variety, optimal growing conditions are in cool climates with temperatures that vary between −4 °C (25 °F) during the night to near 35 °C (95 °F) during the day. Some cultivars can withstand lower temperatures without damage. Light frosts normally do not affect the plants at any stage of development, except during flowering. Mid-summer frosts during flowering, often occurring in the Andes, lead to sterilization of the pollen. Rainfall conditions are highly variable between the different cultivars, ranging from 300 to 1,000 mm (12 to 39 in) during growing season. Growth is optimal with well-distributed rainfall during early growth and development and dry conditions during seed maturation and harvesting



note: edited for clarity.
 
Maureen Atsali
Posts: 145
Location: Western Kenya
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Thanks for the info Roberto.  I had always considered quinoa to be more of a cold weather plant, but it might be worth a try here.  Although, none of the "exotic" seeds I've imported have ever done well... sometimes I get desperate for something different!  We average temps from 70-85 during the day during the rainy seasons, dropping down to 45-55 at night.  During the dry seasons its hotter.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Is it planted during spring or is summer OK too? Threashing winnowing?
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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So, you guys are saying that the white quinoa is not the unhulled version of the red and black?

I could have tried a long time ago. Anyway, now here we find all three kinds in the store. I am interested in the beautiful flower plumes, but if it's anything like amaranth, I don't know how the newly sprouted seeds can even sustain their own length and weight. They are the most delicate kind of sprout I've ever seen. Am I germinating them in too much light or something? I'd rather have them grow stalkier and stronger.
 
David Livingston
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there are many types of quinoa these guys seem to have it sorted http://www.realseeds.co.uk/grains.html
 
Peter Ingot
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Joseph wrote:
So I'm thrilled with a 2% survival rate, and about as much seed as went into the ground.
  That really narrows it down to the hardiest, or... perhaps it's just the luckiest! 
I suppose that I'll get some grocery store seeds to add to the current population.
This is what I'm considering.  I have lambsquarters (a close relative) in my garden as a weed that I like, but was thinking that I would add bulk quinoa to the beds in order to compete with less desirable weeds like hemp nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit).  I doubt that I will have a lack of lambsquarters as it is so hardy, but it would be nice for a relative with a nice flavor profile.




A very important thing to remember about quinoa is that if you have wild chenopodiums, such as lambs quarters on or around your land, it will cross pollinate with them. I got a good harvest the first year, but the second year's harvest was poor, and basically a hybrid with all the bitterness and small dark gritty seeds of lambs quarters.

I don't generally grow things I can't save seed from, so I stopped growing it.

I think I'm right in saying that good king Henry was a European bronze age grain crop bred from Lambs quarters, which later returned to the wild, but both continued to be used as famine food. The leaves and seeds of lambs quarters kept a lot of Russians alive through the lean times of the twentieth century.

I once collected a sackload of seed from a small patch of lambs quarters. I tried eating it by grinding, leaching and boiling or baking the seeds, but it still didn't taste great. The chickens loved the seeds though. I dry big bunches of lambs quarters for winter soup.

It grows abundantly without any help. Good king Henry really feels like the European quinoa to me. Not so convenient as a grain crop though

 
Michael Lackey
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Location: Buena Vista, Colorado Zone 4B
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  Came across this Farm in South Central Colorado while researching Quinoa.   White Mountain Farm Mosca, Colorado. http://www.whitemountainfarm.com  ; website state that they have been raising Quinoa since 1987 at 7600 ft. I believe they sell  Quinoa by the pound.
 
Eric Chen
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Location: Maritime Pacific Northwest, Zone 8
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Maureen Atsali wrote:I live in the tropics, a few minutes from the equator - although altitude and the weird weather patterns keep it fairly mild here.  Do you think quinoa can grow here?


Chenopodium formosanum is a (sub-) tropical species used as food by native Taiwanese, and appears to be getting popular there. I have no idea whether seeds are available.

Here is one article with pictures, but Google Translation will be needed.

http://210.242.222.40/ebid/html/Vcastanopsis/QA.php
 
Eric Chen
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Eric Chen wrote:
Maureen Atsali wrote:I live in the tropics, a few minutes from the equator - although altitude and the weird weather patterns keep it fairly mild here.  Do you think quinoa can grow here?


Chenopodium formosanum is a (sub-) tropical species used as food by native Taiwanese, and appears to be getting popular there. I have no idea whether seeds are available.



Adaptive Seeds here in Oregon actually carries Taiwanese quinoa this year. They ship internationally.

[https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/product/grains/quinoa-taiwanese-organic/]

"Easy to grow plants are similar to lambsquarters, with a unique pink coloration. Grain type but also eaten as a salad green or cooked similar to spinach. We mostly use the leaves as a vegetable, but the seed is high in protein just like other quinoa. Taiwanese Quinoa is a great all purpose food plant. Very heat tolerant. The real magic happens when they grow over 6′ tall, producing seed similar to Andean quinoa on beautiful long trailing flower heads. Flower heads resemble Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth and similarly make great cut flowers. Late to mature seed but the plants can be cut and brought under cover to after-ripen. ..."



 
William Schlegel
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White Mountain Farms came to grain school in Colorado this year. They say that their Quinoa is one of the only kinds that will grow from seed intended for grain because they don't wash it instead they use mechanical means to break off the saponin layer. Though they also said that even their product you would be better off getting quinoa not treated to become food. White Mountain Farms quinoa is probably a good source for rocky mountain gardeners to try.

So far I have tried Red Faro Quinoa from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds and Brightest Brilliant Rainbow. I got a few seeds back from Brightest Brilliant Rainbow and replanted it but it failed again along with the Red Faro I bought last year and I've bought a new packet. A gardener who presented on growing grains in his home garden at Grain School also gave me a sample of a variety that has done well for him. I have been overcrowding my Quinoa and plan to plant it a bit further apart this year that may help me get seed production. I don't have any seed yet from White Mountain Farms but would like some.
 
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