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How to Grow and Harvest Chia In Your Garden

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Kit happily writes articles on almost any topic you could hope for. When he's not knee-deep in programming, he enjoys chilling with his cat

A Bowl of seeds to use with your yogurt or fruit bowl

A Bowl of seeds to use with your yogurt or fruit bowl

Growing Chia plants

If you've been looking for a plant that contains a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, you might want to consider growing your own Chia plants. Chia plants are self-pollinating, meaning that they produce both male and female parts in their flowers. These flowers are visited by several types of bees, including the beloved honey bee. In addition to bees, Chia plants are also very attractive to bees.

To grow your own Chia plants, simply start by sowing the seeds. Chia seeds can be grown in a seed-raising mix, in a pot, or directly into the garden. The seeds should be sown in a thin layer on the soil and watered regularly. Once sprouted, Chia plants can be harvested as microgreens and used young. Growing and harvesting your own Chia plants is an easy and fun process, and the benefits of this natural plant are endless.

Despite its popularity, the seeds of Chia can be a challenge to grow. They are difficult to transplant, and some people find them expensive to grow. This is why it is best to grow them in pots. The seeds will produce a large crop of edible and nutritious food, and you'll be able to enjoy them for many years. Chia plants are available in many varieties, including white, black, and yellow.

A Bed of homegrown Chia sprouts

A Bed of homegrown Chia sprouts

Planting Chia seeds

Plant Chia seeds after the danger of frost has passed, about three to four weeks before the end of the growing season. Chia seeds like moist, well-drained soil. They don't like compacted soil and thrive in slightly acidic soil. After the seeds germinate, thin them and replant them when they reach three inches tall. Plant perennial Chia seeds 18 to 24 inches apart, or grow annual Chia plants.

When it comes to pests and diseases, Chia plants are relatively disease-free and drought-tolerant. Despite being drought-tolerant, Chia is sensitive to heat and can even singe when exposed to prolonged periods of high heat. If the plants are affected by root rot, replant them in fresh soil and wait for harvesting in the spring. However, if they do suffer from root rot, they might need to wait until the next year. If they survive, you can try transplanting their seed heads into a different area to harvest the plants.

Once you have the soil ready, you can scatter the Chia seeds evenly over the surface. Ideally, the soil should be sandy, but slightly acidic soil is preferred for growing Chia. If you're planting them in a raised bed, premium topsoil may be a good choice. Make sure to test the soil for pH levels and nutrient content before planting your seeds. Once they have germinated, Chia seeds should be watered frequently regularly. Make sure to avoid using any harmful chemicals on the Chia plant's seeds and your Chia crop.

Care of Chia plants

Once established, Chia plants are very low-maintenance. The flowers are formed on tall stalks, resembling wheat. They are violet-blue in color and are edible, and the seeds are considered pseudocereal. Chia is a popular plant in southeastern United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. The seeds are harvested from the plant's flowers and used for food, beverages, and more.

Growing Chia is relatively easy, as it tolerates a range of soil and climatic conditions. Chia can be grown in USDA Zones 8-11. They are drought tolerant once established. However, they don't like to be overwatered, so you can amend your soil with compost or wood ash. Liquid seaweed is also useful for foliar feeding. If you have poor soil, make sure to deadhead flowers regularly to encourage new growth. Chia plants are not tolerant of frost, so prepare your planting accordingly.

Chia seeds can be planted indoors or outdoors in March or April. They can be planted in a seed raising mix. Planting them 12 inches apart will give you an excellent harvest in a matter of months. They require at least 6 hours of sunlight every day and as mentioned should be protected from frost. Chia seedlings don't need to be fertilized, but they should not be planted near plants that need frequent watering.

Chia plants flowering

Chia plants flowering

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Harvesting Chia seeds

Harvesting Chia seeds require some patience, and you should watch for the flower's color before picking it. Once the petals start to fall, harvest the seeds. If the flower is not brown yet, leave the flower to dry. To separate the seeds, gently rub the head with a flat hand. You can also use a pair of scissors to separate the seeds. Once you've harvested the Chia seeds, you should have approximately 30 grams of the seed.

You can start by planting the Chia seeds in organic soil. They love rich, organic soil. However, Chia is not weed-resistant. For best results, make sure to clean the soil well before planting the seeds. Make sure not to disturb the soil too much, since this can expose new weed seeds. Chia seedlings need to be planted in freshly cleaned soil. They will grow as large as a person eventually! Chia plants can grow up to 6 feet tall in high density, so they need plenty of space, but the average is about 3 feet.

Indoor grown Chia plant head

Indoor grown Chia plant head

Growing Chia plants in cooler climates

Chia crops can be grown in USDA zones eight to twelve, which encompass most of the Southeastern United States. They don't tolerate frost and will die off when planted in a colder climate, but in drier conditions, they can grow and flower. Chia seeds have a large commercial market, but they also need warm temperatures to start growing.

Although Chia is native to the tropics, temperatures below 0 degC can damage it. Even at low temperatures, cold damage has been reported. This is especially true for Salvia species, which have critical flower-induction and development periods. The salvia species Salvia leucantha Cav. needs 12 hours of light during flowering and 10 hours during flower development. Growing Chia plants in cooler climates require extra care. If you are a beginner, you should probably seek a greenhouse.

Chia plants need very little water once they have been established, but they do need a moderate amount of moisture. Once they are established, they will do just fine in dry conditions and don't require an artificial habitat. A few drops of liquid seaweed applied to the soil will help. Chia plants also don't tolerate competition from other plants, so it is important to keep them away from them, more so when the climate is cooler, and there is more demand for nutrients in the soil by the Chia plant.

Common pests and diseases

Chia plants are vulnerable to many pests and diseases and should be protected from any potential threats by following a few basic tips. Chia plants are susceptible to the Cucumber mosaic virus, which causes the leaves to curl and blister. Symptoms of this disease can include stunted growth and loss of leaf color. These diseases may not be fatal to plants, but they can seriously reduce production. To prevent infestations, apply neem oil to the leaves. These pests may affect the production of your crop, so timing is essential.

Chia is best grown in full sun, where the temperature rarely drops below 40°F. Plants grow best in full, moist soil. Chia is tolerant of partial shade but will produce fewer flowers and less dense growth in that case. It prefers nutrient-rich soil with some clay content. It needs adequate drainage to prevent the soil from becoming too compacted and limiting the plant's ability to grow. To increase the drainage, a layer of perlite is a good idea.

A Chia plant with its flower picked

A Chia plant with its flower picked

Chia Seed availability

Chia seeds are widely available. You can purchase them online or from your local health food store. They also sell them in big-box stores, like Target. They should be white, grey, or black in color. If they have a brown tint, you can assume they are immature and may not be as nutritious. Fortunately, you can store them for up to four years without refrigeration. They don't have to be refrigerated and should sprout in a week or two.

Harvesting Chia seeds is an easy process for children. Once the flowers are fully grown, simply cut them off and collect them in a paper bag. You can also use scissors to collect the Chia seeds. You should store them in a dark, cool place. Chia plants self-sow in the following season. Chia seeds are delicious and nutritious. Growing your own is simple and will pay off big time.

Unlike flax seed, Chia is a plant-based source of omega-3s. While flax seed does contain this essential fatty acid, it needs to be ground to be digestible. Flax seed has a short shelf life and lacks antioxidants. Chia is remarkably stable. Sensory tests show that Chia seeds remain good for up to five years after harvest. Chia oil will last for 18 months.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Kit

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