First cultivated over 3,500 years ago in Mexico and Central America, chia is a multipurpose plant that was a staple food for Mesoamerican cultures and used as a cash crop in Central Mexico as early as 1,500BCE. Chia was as widely cultivated as corn and beans, as it was an essential part of the diet during pre-Columbian times.
After the Spanish conquest in the 1500s, out of the four Aztec crops, chia and amaranth were associated with religion and were banned, replaced by wheat, barley and rice. Virtually non-existent for centuries, chia was sometimes cultivated by small farmers in the high mountains. It was only in the mid-1950s that South American governments began re-establishing chia as an important agricultural product.
Chia plants will take between 120 to 180 days to produce a new crop of seeds and are hardy in Canadian zones 8 and 9. Tolerant to drought and poor growing conditions, Chia seeds produce a slime to hold available water close to them, retaining as much as twelve times their weight in water. Chia seeds are extremely easy to germinate, and they are quick growing and low maintenance.
Mature plants grow to about 5 feet tall, so plan accordingly for them to not shade other smaller sun-loving plants in your garden. The flowering plants will produce tall spikes covered with purple blooms that turn into pods full of seeds that need to be harvested quickly. Chia has been widely popular in the past few years as ‘’chia pets’’ and were re-discovered as a ‘’super-food’’ and as an egg substitute for vegans. Chia can also be cultivated as a micro-green and are often used in soups, salads and sandwiches. The leaves, fresh or dried, can be made into a purifying and energizing tea.
- Days to Maturity: 120-180 days
- Planting Depth: 5 mm
- Plant Spacing: 30-45 cm
- Growth Habit: 90-150 cm tall
Native to Mexico and Guatemala, Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a member of the mint family. There’s much to adore about the annual herb. It grows aggressively with little care, producing pretty blue flowers on tall spikes that bear seeds packed with nutrition and health benefits. Chia thrives in warm climates but can be grown successfully indoors in colder regions, with newly developed cold hardy varieties becoming more available.
To get a head start on the season and ensure a crop of seeds in the fall, start seeds indoors early in the spring. Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of moist soil in a flat or pot and water well. Move the seeds to a bright location, under grow lights or near a sunny window. Thin the plants as they sprout and when they reach about 8 cm in height, harden them off and prepare to plant outdoors.
Plant chia in full sun when temperatures stay around 21 degrees consistently. Chia will feel at home planted in a sandy, well-drained soil. Keep seedlings moist until they’re established. At this point, chia will need little to no watering, as they are extremely drought tolerant. Chia will self-seed, sowing new potential plants at the end of every season.
In cold regions, chia may not have enough time to reach maturity. Fortunately, there are other ways to use the seed to take advantage of its amazing health properties. Chia can be eaten as sprouts and is also popularly grown as a microgreen. It’s quite easy to grow chia as a tasty and nutritious young plant.
Evenly sprinkle seeds over the surface of moist soil in your container of choice. Keep the seeds moist until they sprout and then bottom water the sprouts. Give the seedlings plenty of light and they’ll grow quickly. Microgreen chia will be ready to harvest within one to two weeks.
An excellent superfood is always at hand when you have access to chia seeds.
- The word chia is derived from the Mayan word ‘’strength.’’ A tablespoon was said to be enough to sustain a runner for a whole day.
- Chia seeds will remain viable for 3 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2022, the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!