Quinoa ( Chenopodium quinoa) is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is high in the B-vitamins, vitamin E, fibre, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and various beneficial antioxidants.
Quinoa is generally an undemanding crop. Sow seeds in a sunny spot in free-draining soil in late November for harvesting in February. You can stagger sowing if you wish so that collecting seeds is also staggered.
Plants withstand light frosts at most stages of their development except when flowering, but if you sow in spring this won’t be a problem.
Seeds are best harvested when the weather is dry. They are ready to harvest when the first ripe seeds fall easily from the flower head. As soon as you see this happen, cut the flower heads and lay them on a sheet in a warm, dry spot for several days to dry. The seeds will fall off readily when fully ripe.
Soak seeds for several hours to remove the bitter saponins.
Seeds are available from Koanga Institute.