In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps for growing chia seeds. Chia is a Latin word that means both “strength” and “oily,” words that aptly describe the seed’s qualities. It’s an ancient food crop that originates from South America where it was used by explorers and warriors to fuel their expeditions across the continent and its waters.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a unique, nutritious, easily digestible, and most of all sustainable food that can be used to fuel you for the day. It’s much more than a health food fad, it’s an ancient superfood that can be grown just about anywhere.
Did you know that chia seeds were once so valuable they were worth their weight in gold? These tiny seeds are packed full of nutrients such as protein, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and iron all the while being very low in calories. They’re also gluten-free so they’re ideal for those who are sensitive to gluten.
Chia is a fat-free, gluten-free and cholesterol-free food source. It provides essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6) that are essential for energy production and brain function. In addition to this, there is fiber – which helps keep you full for a longer period of time.
Chia seeds are also an excellent source of amino acids such as arginine, serine, threonine, lysine, and methionine; which are the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids, when broken down, are converted into enzymes and hormones that help protect against disease. They also provide a very quick source of energy that can be used immediately for sustaining exercise.
There is a small amount of iron and calcium in chia seeds, but it’s mainly centered on the iron and calcium found in the bran layer. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer. Fiber can also help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It helps the body pass stool more easily, so it’s great for diverticulitis, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Chia seeds are a rich source of plant protein that’s not only healthy for you but also a sustainable food source. They are low on the glycemic index so they’ll keep you feeling full longer and provide steady energy. It’s great for athletes and bodybuilders because the protein is fast-acting.
The seeds are also rich in antioxidants (ß-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin) that help reduce free radical damage in the body that can cause cancer and other degenerative diseases. Chia seeds contain a high amount of fiber, which is great for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Since they are a great source of fiber, they’re also a great way to slim down. Fiber can slow down the absorption of sugar and help stabilize your blood sugar levels preventing spikes and drops in energy. This will also help you feel full longer, which will prevent overeating.
Chia seeds are also packed with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which when eaten regularly have been shown to lower total cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol) and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
The Best Way to Grow
Growing chia seeds are as easy as growing any vegetable. You can grow them in a pot indoors all year round, or they can be grown outdoors in warmer areas. If you’re going to grow them outdoors, you need to make sure they aren’t touching each other because their seeds will clump together and be more susceptible to the cold germination process. So basically if you live in an area that’s less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit it’s best to grow them indoors.
However, if you live in a warmer climate and have space in your backyard, the best time to plant them would befall so they have the chance to grow and mature over the winter and early spring. This way they’re ready for harvesting to come early summer.
Though you can plant chia seeds in any soil you want, I prefer growing them in a mix that contains 14% peat moss, 15% vermiculite, and 80% perlite. (Learn how to grow chia in a pot here.) When growing outdoors, it’s best to plant them in full-sun areas so they’re given optimal sunlight throughout the day.
There is no fertilizer needed when growing chia seeds.
Step 1: Prepare Your Soil
You can grow chia seeds in any kind of soil that’s light, well-drained, and not heavy with clay.
Step 2: Spread the Seeds
Place the chia seeds outdoors in a well-drained area and cover them with roughly ¼ inch of soil. Water them lightly so that the seeds have time to soak up enough water to begin germination, but not too much that they are completely submerged in water. Chia seeds will germinate within two days of planting. They’ll emerge as a needle-like shoot and then develop into a beautiful green plant.
Step 3: Maintain and Water
If you’re growing chia seeds outdoors in the spring or summer, make sure there is plenty of water available to your plants. In the fall or winter, make sure they are watered well before the first frost. If you live in a warmer climate where it never freezes, then you may not need to water them too often. Along with this, be sure to give them some sunlight so their leaves can grow green and healthy.
Step 4: Harvest
This is the most critical step in growing chia seeds. They can’t grow further until they are mature. Once the pods start to dry out, then it’s time to harvest them. When harvesting, remove as many as you can from your plant and store them in a sealed container. Be sure to give them plenty of ventilation and air circulation so they don’t all clump together and become ineffective in getting the nutrients from the chia seed inside of them.
There you have it: a quick and easy guide on how to grow chia seeds indoors or outdoors.