Quinoa is a high protein grain that was consumed by the ancient Incas civilisation of South America back in 3000 B.C. It is also currently a primary source of food and nutrition for modern day Bolivians and is now becoming recognised by those health conscious in the West and as a means to reduce hunger and malnutrition world wide.
The unmatched health properties of the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins compelled the UN to declare 2013 the International year of Quinoa.
The high protein content is said to be great for those who prefer a vagan diet or are actively trying to reduce the amount of meat they are consuming. I believe this product is also available to buy in Health Food Shops and Supermarkets like Tesco if you want to “try before you grow” but do try and grow a bit of your own and reduce those airmiles on it, a bit of ‘Earth Care’. Anyway I’ll be growing some this coming year for you all to see at least.
I’m told it’s very easy to use, the grains are slightly larger than couscous and are cooked in a similar way to rice, with little spirals of white germ appearing as they expand. It goes well with most meals you would traditionally serve with rice such as curries, stews and tagines. I believe it can be used when making your own bread too, let me know how you get on.
I think this is best started in pots under cover in April if possible and then planted outdoors in May, they’ll end up reaching about 6 feet tall by the time they are flowering in July/August and seed are ready for harvest in Sept/Oct. Also unlike common grains like wheat just a few plants are required and are spaced 2 feet apart from each other.
Although Quinoa is usually thought of as a grain it’s worth noting that it’s actually related to the spinach, chard and beetroot family (Chenopodium). The Real Seed Company list two varities of Quinoa, a ‘Rainbow’ and a ‘Temuco’ and I advise you to grow both if you can and see which performs best in your region (micro climate). That said both of these grow well in wet and windy temperate climate here in the United Kingdom.
So granted we are hours away from 2014 but why not make a little space in your garden for Quinoa next year and see how life treats you.