How to grow Quinoa.

First things first … I have no idea how to grow quinoa. So let’s get that little bit of information out of the way.  The title was just to drag you in here believing that I had some sort of secret information on properly growing Quinoa.  I do not.

Hopefully the exciting surprise that you can actually grow your own Quinoa is information enough.

To reiterate, I have no information on the proper way to grow quinoa.

But I don’t really know how to properly run, prune a rose bush or laugh really hard without my face going ugly but I manage to do all of those things. So growing quinoa without knowing how to properly do so should be pretty much the same.

Every year I plant something weird or odd or different in my garden just to see what it’s like to grow. Last year it was the mouse melon.

Mouse Melon 3

A tiny little cucumber type thing that looks like a minuscule watermelon. This teeny vine started off slow and I wasn’t even sure it was going to make it, but by the end of the summer it was covered with these great little bite sized bursts of flavour.

I’m hoping quinoa will be just as easy.

Last year I ordered some Cherry Vanilla Quinoa seeds off of the Internet and I’ll be planting it this weekend.  I’m a little late getting it into the ground, but this has been one disaster of a year in terms of gardening.  Everything is weeks behind including my gardening ambition.  It’s hard to get worked up about spending the day out in the dirt when you have to do it in an unflattering parka with tissues rammed up your dripping nostrils.

Why grow your own quinoa? I don’t know.  I don’t have all the answers.  All I  know is I want to grow quinoa and I’m going to.

There’s more to it than just the end result, which is a batch of your own homegrown quinoa.



As it turns out, quinoa plants have edible leaves as well.  Great for salads apparently.  Which works out well in terms of timeline, because my guess is by the time your lettuce is bolting, your quinoa leaves will be ready for picking.



Image from Adventures in Cooking


And finally, the actual quinoa plant is pretty.  And when your garden is in your front yard, you appreciate plants that are  pretty.



Cherry Vanilla is just the name of the strain of Quinoa, it isn’t cherry/vanilla flavoured quinoa. It’s named Cherry vanilla because it produces pink and ivory coloured flowers.



Image from Hawthorne Farms

Once the quinoa has gone to seed, you harvest them; which I’m not entirely sure about yet, but I have the whole summer to figure that out.  I’m assuming it will involve drying the seed heads then just knocking them out.

I will keep you updated on my quinoa adventure this summer and let you  know how it goes.  That includes divulging any secret information I may gather along the way.

On a personal note, I promise not to fool you again with a misleading title to one of my posts, inferring I have knowledge that I really don’t. I pinkie swear promise.

Join me tomorrow for more information on things I don’t know.

UCH.  See?  You’re never going to come back for that.  Please forgive me but, JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR MY POST ON HOW TO MAKE A ZERO CALORIE MACARONI & CHEESE!*

*please note the macaroni & cheese recipe is just a glass of water, which I have renamed macaroni & cheese.
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  1. Debbie says:

    Just remember say no to arm pit hair.

  2. Sue says:

    It’s a beautiful flowering plant! I’d like to hear how the leaves taste. Are they sweet or bitter. Keep us updated please!

  3. calliek says:

    I bought quinoa seeds last fall too, at the Royal Winter fair. I don’t think mine have a pretty name like yours tho. I was told quinoa will grown in poor soil and shade so I figured it’s a no brainer for most of my garden. I haven’t planted mine yet either so I have nothing from experience to add but one thing I did read is that it is slow growing at a first and weeding in the early stage is important

  4. Amy Lou says:

    I come here because I need to laugh. I did. Thank you. And the best of luck to you, novice quinoa farmer. May your harvest be much and rich.

  5. Grammy says:

    The fun of gardening comes from trying things that are new to you. Over the years I’ve had so many things that made me go, “Wow, that actually was pretty interesting.” Others made me go, “Now I’m just pissed off.”

    But occasionally something is so successful and so good it makes me smile and vow to always grow that from now on. Those are always the things that make my husband say, “I hope you aren’t going to grow more of that stuff.” To which I reply unkind things that imply someone in the future is going to really love me growing this, just not him.

    I have never tried to grow quinoa. I would like to do that. I look forward to your tutorial. I rejoice in your attempts at everything, even the ones that don’t work out.

  6. Kat says:

    I had no idea what quinoa was so I googled it and apparently it is a big thing with healthy peoples diets but has been around for thousands of years. So if anyone else doesn’t know what it is here is wikipedia’s explanation or at least part of it.
    Quinoa (/ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɨˈnoʊ.ə/, Spanish: quinua, from Quechua: kinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds.
    It is high in protein, lacks gluten, and is tolerant of dry soil.

    • Katie says:

      True Cereals?!?!?!

    • Debbie says:

      I love quinoa, though it is not a grain, it is a seed. I use it in place of things my son is allergic to – like wheat! Quinoa tabouli is wonderful! Quinoa in the rice maker with chicken broth and sautéed onions and mushrooms is yummy. Be careful, though. If the quinoa is not pre-rinsed, make sure to rinse it very, very well – otherwise it is tastes yucky (that is the fancy way of saying bad). For more information

      People love to “discuss” quinoa, what it is, what it isn’t, if they like it, if they hate it, and how to cook it. It is a fun food all around. Now, about millet….

  7. Niki says:

    You burst my bubble. I was already to order Super Dark Chocolate Mint quinoa!

  8. caryl says:

    I think it might be in the amaranth family. Do you know?

  9. Stephanie says:

    I’m with Amy Lou, I come here for laughs…wit, sarcasm with a smile, loads of interesting information, insight, & hogwash. I never leave disappointed, not even over suspicious water flavored macaroni. You are one of the best parts of the internet.

  10. Louise says:

    I love the creativity shown in your last line! I have now renamed my Honda a Ferrari, and my husband will now be known as Liam Neeson. Oh yes, and my weight will now be called “perfect!”

  11. AnnW in the US says:

    My first night in Cuzco, Peru, I told the waiter I would like some quinoa, I said Keen-wa. He said you mean Key-no-a? I said yes, and I’ll have the alpaca with it.
    You amaze me. I hope it grows. Maybe I’ll try it next year. Ha!

  12. EmilyB says:

    Karen, I know this wasn’t the purpose of your post, but now I finally have the answer to my dripping nose when I’m outside working– just jam the tissue up there! And I never would have thought of it on my own– I’m so conventional my thought processes never went beyond blowing or wiping. So even though I may never grow quinoa, I’ve learned something invaluable. Thank you from the bottom of my dripping nose ( my sleeve appreciates it too!)

    • TucsonPatty says:

      I’ve made “nose tampons” while at work when it is just out of control, and use a face mask
      over it, and excuse myself often to go change the toilet paper tampon. TMI??
      (I’ve had to do it a couple of times – after having a small bleeder in my nose cauterized with silver nitrate, which made my nose run uncontrollably for hours after.) You can’t beat it!
      Karen – I love you so much! I laugh so hard always.

  13. Tigersmom says:

    Being the not-so-proud owner of a matching pair of black thumbs, I don’t so much look for new things I can grow, but new things I can’t kill.

    I am currently reveling in the fact that my hydrangeas (planted by someone other than me) are blooming and glorious. Makes me want to put in more of them. Everywhere.

  14. I knew this stuff grew in Costco….but in your garden? Who knew.

    • Karen says:

      Hah! I’m hoping growing my own will make me eat more of it. I don’t mind quinoa but I still haven’t worked it into my meals as much as I should. My niece on the other hand LOVE quinoa and so do her kids. ~ karen

  15. Debbie D says:

    I love that you are growing this beautiful quinoa. I too try to grow things that no one has ever heard of and see how they do. This year—black currents! What was I thinking??? Oh yea, something about making jam and putting it in the county fair for a prize…jeesh! Last year, passion fruit. I now have flowers!!! Year before, Australian Finger Limes and Yuzu! Hey, those are good! Love those!

    Have never seen mouse melons. I have a little more space to fill. Will have to check it out! Also love quinoa. Something else to try. Not sure it will withstand our heat, however. Love your blog.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Debbie! The quinoa might be O.K. Southern Ontario gets insanely hot here too. It surprises most people from around the world how hot our summers are actually, lol. Hot and HUMID. ~ karen

  16. marilyn says:

    if you start wearing socks and sandals i’m out

  17. Elen says:

    Karen – Where did you get the mouse melon seeds?

  18. Kelly says:

    I am try quinoa in my garden this year as well. I don’t have high hopes for it as it does best in climates with cool nights and we are usually pretty hot and humid midsummer. But with the way the weather has been the past couple of years all bets are off…I am also trying Teff which requires the oposite growing conditions so we’ll see which grain wins out!

  19. jainegayer says:

    ok, you officially can’t be trusted but you make my coffee come out of my nose.
    Can’t wait for the 0 calorie mac & cheese. LOL

  20. Ruth says:

    Your posts (whatever the topic) never fail to set off hilarity in certain areas of the comment section….. I may have to call my husband Idris Elba. LOL!

    Oh… the quinoa looks beautiful, and I hope yours will do well, but… if not, you can always rename some grass seeds… 🙂

  21. Michele says:

    Hi Karen,
    I tried growing quinoa last year…and it grew! The only problem was that I planted it in the garden beside the gate into our backyard. The plants grow fairly tall. The beautiful quinoa seeds get heavy, the plants start to lean…they leaned back night into the path and every time my husband used the gate he got a face full of quinoa. I was instructed that if I grew it again it couldn’t be in that garden. I live in Victoria, BC. The rain came early last year and I didn’t harvest it in time, so the seeds got wet and turned them into bird seed. Suddenly my garden turned into the local bird hang-out, complete with free food! The birds harvested it with their beaks, I still don’t know how I would have done it. I will try it again, hopefully with more success. Good luck with yours! Ontario should be a great climate to grow it.

  22. Jennifer says:

    I’m going to try growing it too! And wheat! My daughter grows all kinds of fun stuff. She grew tobacco one year (it’s pretty and illegal!) and she’s got hops growing up the side of her house now. I grow a really pretty plant called hemp. heh. If you want to make quinoa really good, try making patties. 2 cups quinoa, 4 eggs, bread crumbs, parm cheese, chopped kale, onions, garlic, s&p and fry up. So tasty! I make a giant batch and freeze.

  23. Robin says:

    Looking forward to that Mac & Cheese recipe!

  24. Patti says:

    Cherry vanilla quinoa looks pretty! Good luck with that. Sometimes for lunch I’ll have a little salad with spinach leaves, quinoa, avocado, red onion and a hard boiled egg or 2. I freakin’ inhale that thing. Another good one is mix cooked quinoa with mashed sweet potatoes, make into patties and fry it up, delicious!

  25. Dagmar says:

    Apart from the quinoa post, I believe there was some business about re-wiring an old phone that you promised us once. And we were fooled by that promise too. We must either be really trusting, or we believe that you are a super-woman and *can* do it all. I think it’s probably the second one. Thanks for making our days better, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      What promise?! I’m confused. Did I promise something about rewiring an old phone? Did it have to do with this post on How to Rewire an Old Phone? They’re all different and they’ve all been screwed up a bit differently over the years so it’s difficult to give actual instructions. ~ k!

  26. jeannie B says:

    The flower heads are beautiful. I was just wondering what to have for lunch. i think I’ll make Patti’s salad. Thanks for the info about growing quino. Aloha! So, that rhymnes with quinoa?

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Lies, Lies, Lies..Lies Upon Lies….tisk..tisk..prety plant though..good luck..

  28. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the laugh, I needed it! And, I am running low on quinoa .

  29. Dagmar says:

    Yes Karen, it was that blog that I was thinking of. I guess I just meant that the title suggested that we were going to be taught how to re-wire an old phone. And this is similar to the ingenious way you pulled us in today with the introduction “How to grow Quinoa.” And you are right, there was no promise made, so I am wrong. Can I at least get some extra credit for reading each and every one of your blogs , and whats more remembering them !!!

  30. Grammy says:

    I get the email that says Karen put up a new post. Since I’m in a way different time zone, I’m usually watching TV or doing something else when her notification triggers at midnight, Karen time. I go over there soon as I get the chance to see what clever thing she’s offering up today and get a laugh at the same time. Sometimes I comment, sometimes I have nothing to offer.

    You’d think that would end it, but, no. I always have to go back the next day to read the comments of everyone else, because really cool people hang out here and the comments are clever and funny, too. I like Karen’s place and the people who populate it. It’s a gang I’m happy to join.

  31. V says:

    Thanks for your posts. You brighten my day – actually night as that is when I read your post. I look forward to these every day. Keep it up!

  32. How bout zero calorie water and quinoa casserole?

  33. Robin says:

    I am another reader who enjoys the comments as much as the blog posts!!

  34. Debbie says:

    Thank you for some much needed burst out loud laughter! Great column!

  35. kari says:

    So funny. I can’t wait to see how your experiment goes! I love quinoa. And I love that you plant something random to see what it does. I hope I too can grow quinoa and make zero cal mac and cheese someday.

  36. Barbie says:

    Cannot WAIT for the mac n cheese recipe!

  37. Believe it or not, I LOVE Quinoa and detest mac-n-cheese. That is no lie, (hate donuts, too…) and I am thrilled to hear the we can grow it! (I know,I know, NO ONE hates mac-n-cheese and donuts, but don’t delete me because I exercise my freedom of food choice! If it is any consolation, I put parmesan and olive oil on my Quinoa…ALMOST like mac-n-cheese…?)
    It may not fit completely with my french produce theme, but hey, I also have some Spanish lavender, so they can learn to speak Frenglish with the rest of us. (Damn…this means I need to dig up more garden space in 90 deg heat. UGH.)
    (BTW…Karen, you should start looking for a farm. I can see you as a FarmHer. Now that your kitchen is finished you’ll need a new project…?)

  38. Wilma says:

    I was gobsmacked that you could actually grow quinoa when I read this post, so I immediately ordered seeds and planted them. Also not concerned about the harvesting process, thinking I’ll figure it out. So last evening I cut off some of the seed heads, brought them into my enclosed porch & laid them out on newspaper. Immediately a bazillian ants, bugs & spiders started fanning out in all directions, fleeing ground zero. I’m not kidding. A bazillion. I quickly went into the house & shut the door. But there were a few tablespoons of loose quinoa in my container, so I decided to winnow & cook that. It took FOREVER. Pouring back & forth, lightly blowing. I may have eaten bits that were not quinoa. So all of this to say, an update on your quinoa please? Have you harvested? How does one go about this without chucking it all out for the birds & going to the store for a nice tidy bag of cleaned quinoa?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Wilma! I haven’t harvested yet. I probably should have but every time I look at it I think …. how the hell do I harvest this, lol. So. There’s a guy up at my community plot that also grew it. I’ll ask him if he has a better idea of what to do then I’ll let you know. ~ karen!

  39. Norma says:

    Just a small note – your link to Hawthorn Farms is no longer working. Their current link is

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