CERTIFIED ORGANIC. Its large seed heads look like overloaded ice cream cones. This new variety reaches 2-2.4m (6-7') tall. Plants produce fewer branches when spaced 30cm (12") apart in rows 40cm (16") apart. The large heads ripen uniformly, making harvest more straightforward than in varieties with many large branches. French Vanilla quinoa seeds are white or buff in colour. The best way to harvest quinoa seeds is to use a large paper yard waste bag. Once the seed heads have been allowed to dry completely, they can be bashed about into the bag, which will catch all the seeds and chaff. The seeds are more dense than the chaff, so they can be winnowed by tossing upwards and catching in a bowl. The chaff should blow off bit by bit, leaving only the seeds behind.
Matures in 100 days. (Open-pollinated seeds)
Quinoa greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, and have a nice, mild flavour. The seeds can be ground into a flour that is gluten free, or simply cooked like rice. Continue reading below for our tips on how to grow quinoa from seed.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow in spring, while night temperatures are still cool. Night time temperatures should be consistently above 10°C (50°F). Optimal soil temperature for germination: 18-24°C (65-75°F). Seeds should germinate in 4-10 days.
Sow 5mm (¼”) deep, 10 seeds per 30cm (12″), and thin to 25-35cm (10-14″) between plants. If growing for baby leaf production, plants can be spaced more closely.
Days to Maturity: From direct sowing.
Ideal pH: 6.0-7.5. Use a well-drained, loamy soil with added organic matter in the form of well-rotted compost or manure. Keep weeded, but otherwise quinoa is drought tolerant and undemanding. It’s a great plant for xeriscaping, and the tall plants look good at the back of a floral border.
Harvest any time after seeds have changed from green to their calico colours, even after light frost. Read more about How to Harvest Quinoa.
In optimal conditions at least 70% of seeds should germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 160 seeds, per acre: 42M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Watch for slug/snail damage to young seedlings. Keep the area free from debris where these pests like to nest.
Check out Mark’s podcast about quinoa on the Encyclopedia Botanica blog.