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Growing My Own Quinoa

Nine years ago, when I first learned about quinoa, the headlines were all about how this little seed was chocked full of gluten-free protein, fiber and minerals. More recently, the discussion has turned towards the devastating ecological and socioeconomic impact on Andean farmers as driven by our high demand for this product. So I asked rhetorically, “Why the fux can’t the US grow this locally?” As it turns out, agricultural researchers are experimenting to mass produce this crop across the globe, but results have been a  a mix of successes and failures.

I’m oversimplifying the issues at play here, but I’ll point out two major issues why growing quinoa has not taken off in the US. Firstly, we simply do not yet have all the infrastructure and knowledge base in place to properly produce quinoa. Secondly, quinoa is friggin hard to grow…period. It usually likes cold and dry environments and can suffered a host of problems. I say this with confidence, because I had some first hand experience growing a micro-batch rainbow quinoa this past year in zone 7. From the 3 surviving stalks, I was barely able to harvest 1.5 ounce of seeds. My plants barely survived the onslaught of leafminers, red rusts, and powerful storms that snapped several other stalks. Harvesting and cleaning was also a pain in the ass.

So, I’ve made a “new year’s” resolution. I will no longer buy the seeds or order any dish with quinoa. I won’t eat it unless I can grow it, but clearly, quinoa is not optimal for my area. This was really all a great learning experience, I’m really not crazy enough about this food to spend any more calories to continue  experimentation on my homestead.

This is from a few weeks ago (and not a great picture), but we built a wee pond from mostly recycled materials/stuff we already had on-hand. Our goal was to keep it cheap, and make it attractive for frogs. In the end, the only thing we had to buy was the solar pump (which we got cheap) and the pond liner material, which was fairly cheap.

There’s lots of hiding places in the rocks for frogs and lizards, and the veggie beds around the pond are full of slugs, slaters, snails and other froggy savouries. It’s not the most elegant-looking thing in the world but it was cheap and we did it all ourselves. Even a small pond like this one will attract frogs and birds, who help keep garden pests under control. We already have lots of frogs in the garden, and wanted to encourage them to stick around. Within a week, a large eastern striped marsh frog had laid a raft of eggs near the rocks, so it was obviously judged and found suitable! Since then, a few more rafts of eggs have been laid, and we hear them at night hanging out in the rocks calling to each other. Just more wee froggies in my life forever, please