6 months to reach maturity
This plant has no fragrance
Quinoa is an adaptable, annual herb that grows up to 2 m tall, has toothed, green-grey leaves and striking, ornamental seed heads in many different colours - from cream, yellow and orange to deep purple. It is a so-called pseudo-cereal, and is used like a grain, but is really a member of the spinach (chenopod) family. Called "the mother grain" and a "super-food" , because it is a complete source of protein and a healthy, gluten-free substitute for starch like pasta or rice.
Common problems with Quinoa
May suffer from the same viruses that attack spinach or beets. Crops are attacked by damping off, downy mildew, stalk rot and leaf spot. Aphids, fea beetles, catterpillars and leafhoppers feed on the leaves and seeds.
Quinoa Companion Plants
Brassicas and lettuce are good companions for quinoa.
How to harvest Quinoa
Seed heads are harvested by hand when leaves have fallen; threshed and winnowed to remove the husk. Harvesting depends on the varying maturity periods of different cultivars; usually in Autumn. The bitter outer shell of the seed contains a light toxic substance, saponins, which must be removed before it is edible.
How to propagate Quinoa
Seeds are sown in Spring, in situ, or in rows 25cm apart; thinning out later. Soil must not be too wet. Germination time 2 to 5 days.
Special features of Quinoa
Once they are established, plants are resistant to drought.
Other uses of Quinoa
The seeds are cooked in the same way as rice, or ground to flour. Contains all nine essential amino acids. Sweet, nutty flavour. Leaves and stems retain their nutrition when cooked. Leaves may be cooked like spinach, with a similar salty, savory flavour.