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Botanical Interests "Brightest Brilliant Rainbow" Organic Quinoa Seeds

Annual. Blooms late summer to fall. Full sun. 4'-6' tall. The Incas called quinoa, 'the mother of all grains'. It was planted with a golden tool and offered to the sun in golden vases during solstice. This tall vegetable/ornamental has seed plumes with dazzling colors of hot pink, royal burgundy, red, pumpkin orange, light yellow, creamy white, and lime green. It may initially look a little mundane as plants are growing (it is related to the weed, Lamb's Quarters), but you will be amazed when it produces a rainbow of bright seed plumes filled with edible grains. Use at the back of the flower border for a textural splash of bright colors or grow for the delicious, nutty, high protein grains and nutritious young foliage. Quinoa grains can be cooked like rice, and the tender young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. The plumes take around 90-120 days from sowing to appear and will achieve the most intense color when maturing in cool weather.

When to plant outside: Cold Climates: After average last spring frost when soil temperatures are near 60 degrees. Warm Climates: In late summer or early fall for late fall or winter blooms.

When to start inside: No more than 1-2 weeks before sowing outside. Germination can occur rapidly. Seedlings will develop long, spindly fragile red stems when light isn't adequate or they are kept inside too long.

Special Germination & Growing Instructions: A short 1 to 2 week period of refrigeration before sowing increases germination (but this treatment is optional as seeds usually sprout vigorously without it). Germination is best when soil temperature is 60 degrees F. Sow 1/8 deep and keep moist. Plants prefer warm days (not above 90 degrees) and cool nights (below 60 degrees) to grow. For greens: Sow 1" apart in rows. Harvest the tender young leaves when plants are no more than 6"-8" tall. For grains or ornamental use: Space at 12"-18" apart. (Some tender leaves may still be picked for eating when young.

Harvesting: Grains may be harvested from late summer to fall (winter in warm climates), 90-120 days from the initial sowing date. They are ready for harvest when the seed heads fall off easily. They will tolerate a light frost, but be sure to harvest them before they start falling to the ground and before intense rain. Shake seed heads over a bucket or rub through a screen over a container. Dry thoroughly before storing. The colored seed coating on the grains is made of saponin, a bitter substance that birds and deer avoid. It is easily removed before cooking with a good rinsing. (More information on methods listed inside packet under the 'In the Kitchen' section.) "

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