(Chenopodium quinoa); please see the drop-down menu for packet sizes
It is truly inspiring Mother Nature offers us such a tiny nutritient dense seed that transforms itself into a 6 foot plant yielding thousands of its own tiny nutritious seeds in addition to an abundance of edible greens. A crop native to the Andes, Quinoa has a reputation of being finicky in northern growing conditions so we are grateful to have found a variety that does well in our Michigan garden. After last frost we sowed the seeds heavily and ate the thinnings (thinning to about a foot apart), treating them like spinach. Throughout the summer and through harvest, leaves and side shoots provided yummy, nutritious greens as other typical greens were bolting.
White seeds are a blend, producing plants with flowers that bloom in a gorgeous array of color, from yellows, reds, and oranges, to pinks and purples, with a corresponding diversity of foliage color. Save seed of your favorite color(s) or keep them mixed. Be aware that the weed lambsquarter can pollinate this quinoa if it happens to be in the same species (C. quinoa), so diligence in preventing the wild relative from flowering is required for seed purity*.
Although the plant requires little attention, it is important to monitor seed heads in the fall to prevent against seeds sprouting on the plant. We cut the stems to hang in the barn when the bottom leaves began to drop. Seeds are tightly held in the flowers so we experienced very little loss as they hung to dry; however, they thresh free very easily by hand.
An another important note is quinoa seeds are covered with a natural saponin which requires their rinsing before use to avoid a soapy taste. We put them in a small-screened colander and rinse them well in running water or if really bitter, we soak overnight in water with a bit of cider vinegar.
* Our reference for saving quinoa seed is Andrea Heistinger's The Manual of Seed Saving that recommends an isolation distance of at least 300 feet. Typically wild Chenopodium is C. berlandieri or C. alba but since it is nigh on impossible without genetic testing to classify your wild population, it is safer to assume it crosses with quinoa (C. quinoa.) In addition to maintaining isolation distance, we grow our quinoa between tall barrier crops "upwind" from any potential wild relatives. Unlike Queen Anne's Lace, our wild Chenopods are nearly non-existent except for early in the season and we just eat those plants!