Can I Grow My Own Chia Seeds?
There’s nothing more enjoyable than eating something you grew yourself. Everything seems to taste better when it comes from your own garden. Given that, I wondered if I could grow my own Chia seeds and how much work it would be to harvest them. Turns out it’s definitely doable but you need a lot of patience. It’s not as easy as growing a tomato.
The technical name for the Chia plant is Salvia Hispanica and it’s native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Given that, it’s preferred soil condition is somewhat arid which is nice because you don’t have to worry about watering your plants all the time. The Chia plant has nice purple flowers but I think most people who see it would think it’s a weed. It probably won’t be an attractive addition to your flower garden. Chia is a perennial which means it lives year round. You can plant it any time of year as long as it doesn’t freeze.
You can use the Chia seeds you buy at the store to get started. The first step is germinating the seeds. You can do this a couple of ways but I’ll give you the most popular method:
- Start with a disposable plastic bowl, like an old cream cheese or sour cream container.
- Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Add 1-2 moist paper towels to the bottom and smooth them out. Place the container on a plate so any water that drips out the bottom doesn’t leak onto the counter or floor.
- Sprinkle Chia seeds evenly onto the paper towel and make sure they’re not bunched too close together. They should be about 1 quarter inch apart but if they end up closer than that it’s not a big deal.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place container somewhere that’s warm but also doesn’t get direct sunlight. The plastic wrap should help the paper towels stay moist but if they start drying out too much you can spray a little water on them.
After 3 days or so you should start to see them start to sprout at which point you can move them next to a window or somewhere else where they’ll get direct sunlight. It’s important to make sure the paper towel stays moist and doesn’t dry out completely. When they’re a couple of inches tall it’s time to plant them. Either a planter or in your garden will work well. You could probably forgo the whole sprouting process and just throw a bunch of seeds in your garden with the same results but I haven’t tried it. Chia seems to be a pretty hearty plant.
Eventually they’ll begin to flower and will grow the pods that contain the seeds. When the pod begins to brown it’s time to harvest your seeds. Cut off the branches with the pods and hang them upside down in a dry place for 2-3 weeks. After they’re completely dried out they’re ready to eat. Just crack the pods open and enjoy!
So there you go. I haven’t had a ton of luck growing my own Chia mostly because I don’t have space for more than a few plants. Each plant only produces a few tablespoons of seeds which I tend to go through pretty quickly.
My recommendation: Buy some organic Chia seeds from your healthfood store and use your precious garden space for some delicious heirloom tomatoes.