Will Chia (Salvia hispanica) grow up north?

happyday(WI4a)January 20, 2009

Does anyone grow the Aztec grain plant Chia (Salvia hispanica) as a vegetable? Will it set seed in Zone 4/5?

I've read that it is very nutritious as a grain, can be eaten as a sprout or young plant, but also that it may not flower until fall in the north as it is a short day length plant. Have also read that it has apparently naturalized in Pennsylvania and Texas.

So, can anyone who has grown it tell more about it? It's now being touted as one of those old-is-new-again wonder foods.


Here is a link that might be useful: Chia health benefits

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I am in Northern IL and successfully grew it for seed when I worked at a seed company years ago. I did start it inside, and transplant about 6 weeks later. The seeds are VERY small, so you will need a lot of them, and I seem to remember a very small amount of seed from 20 or so plants - like maybe 3 TBSP. To be honest, it seems like a lot of effort for a small yield. I'd grow a vegetable in it's place. Maybe I'd feel differently if we had a longer growing season and a bigger seed harvest.....

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 9:51AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

That story parallels my experience on flax seeds. Flax seeds are small too. I threw out a 2 pound bag of flax that pantry moths got into. I had a bumper crop of flax in an area about 20 x 12 feet. Harvesting the seed is tedious by hand and you don't get much volume. You do get some hulls though which are now touted as being healthy when ground.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 5:06PM
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I grew a little patch of it at 45 degrees latitude. It grew quite vigorously but never flowered at all and ended up succumbing to frost in early october. I'm growing it again but strictly for the copious green shoots. It works well in pesto mixed with basil. It's a kind of sage plant. The nice thing about it being a short day plant is that it just grows and grows and takes the heat without getting bitter or flowering. Just chop the top 2 nodes of fresh shoots and it will put out side shoots. The seeds from the analyses I have seen are one of the best food sources of calcium, so I would imagine the greens are also calcium rich.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 1:03PM
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