Chatting with my friend, Rhonda Henry, on the phone the other day, we traded stories of cooking, gardening, and markets.   Rhonda lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington State.  I’m acquainted with her garden through the great photos she posts on Facebook.

Rhonda grew ‘Red Head’ Quinoa this past season. What a nutritious and truly local food to enjoy, especially, in the winter months!  I’ll share the story through the photos she took documenting her first crop of quinoa.

These ‘Red Head’ Quinoa seeds are from Uprising Seeds in Bellingham, WA.  Seeds were planted in a weed free holding bed.

The young quinoa plants are “taking off” soon after being transplanted.

In this photo, I see the resemblance to lambs quarters and other pig weeds.

Luckily the weather stayed dry. After the leaves fell, it was time to put on the gardening gloves and harvest by clipping the seed heads.

Seeds are ready to be stored.

After picking, the dry seed heads are rubbed together and the seeds winnowed outdoors.  Because of rainy Northwest weather, some of the quinoa needed to be winnowed indoors.  She broke out her hair dryer and got the job done!  As a bonus, her cats enjoyed rolling around with the bits of plant matter on the kitchen floor.

Rhonda found the processing of quinoa much easier than processing the oats or barley she planted in other years.  Sixty square feet dedicated to quinoa plants yielded a respectable 6 pounds of seed.  Quinoa seeds grow with saponin coating each seed.  Saponin is  bitter tasting but otherwise not harmful.  The quinoa we buy in stores is already rinsed.  She says rinsing the quinoa 4 or 5 times is, “Not too much work”.

I have heard some people use a blender on the slowest speed for the rinses.  I am so excited to grow quinoa. I want to order a packet of seeds now.   Perhaps, my priority, might be, to first figure out where to put a garden!  That’s a story in the making.  Stay tuned.

Resources:

Missouri:  Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

Washington:  Seed Dreams

British Columbia, Canada:  Salt Spring Seeds (good info on how to grow quinoa on their website/blog)