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How I Grow and Harvest Organic Chia Seeds

Updated on January 5, 2017
LongTimeMother profile image

LTM's extensive organic gardens feature fruit trees, vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, grapes, and berries.

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Why Would You Grow Your Own Chia?

Chia is easy to grow, beautiful to look at, and offers lots of nutritional value. It deserves a place in any garden.

I have been growing chia organically for the past ten years, and in that time I have fine-tuned my growing and harvesting techniques. Chia is one of the easiest plants to grow, and one of the healthiest.

Chia seeds are a very high source of linolenic acid (LNA) and linoleic acid (LA). Both these essential fatty acids attract oxygen and help cell membranes to be flexible and fluid, plus strengthen our immune system to help protect our bodies from viruses, bacteria, and allergies.

Most people's diets are dangerously low in essential fatty acids, which results in tired muscles, fatigue, and a range of health problems. We need to eat EFAs daily because the human body cannot manufacture them. If your diet includes a lot of refined oils and processed foods, you are most at risk.

EFAs, such as those found in chia, can assist with weight loss and removal of toxins from the body.

Enzymes in chia also help with digestion of other foods.

Traditionally, chia has been used to calm nerves and strengthen the memory, but the most high-profile value of chia comes from the seed's ability to give you energy. University research has revealed that one tablespoon of chia seed could reasonably be expected to sustain a person working hard enough to work up a sweat, for 24 hours.

This is the kind of chia seeds I bought years ago and planted. Since then, I've been harvesting and saving seed to use from one year to the next. I'll show you how easy it is to grow your own chia plants.
This is the kind of chia seeds I bought years ago and planted. Since then, I've been harvesting and saving seed to use from one year to the next. I'll show you how easy it is to grow your own chia plants. | Source

10 Ways to Use Chia Seeds and Leaves

Chia is very convenient and versatile. Here's ten different ways to use chia seeds and leaves.

  1. Chew Chia Seeds
    I chew chia seeds, releasing their nutty taste, as a snack on a busy day. They swell a little as they absorb saliva, making them soft and ready for the journey to your stomach.

  2. Soak and Drink
    Soaking the seeds first in water or fresh juice makes them even easier for your body to digest. Wait long enough for the seeds to swell. Chia seeds have appetite suppressant qualities and are useful for dieters.

  3. Add Chia to Milkshakes and Smoothies
    If you enjoy a summer smoothie or your kids like milkshakes, add some chia seeds for extra energy. You probably won't notice them as you drink, but the goodness will be there!

  4. Sprinkle Chia Seeds Over Food
    Chia seeds can be sprinkled over breakfast cereals, jam on toast, or a nice fresh salad. When I serve my home-made pumpkin soup, I add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle chia seeds over the top of each bowl.

  5. Eat Chia Sprouts
    Sprouting chia seeds increases their vitamin content and makes them even more nutritious. Just like sprouted alfalfa and mung beans, chia sprouts are a great addition to a salad.

  6. Drink Chia Tea
    The leaves, fresh or dried, make a relaxing and therapeutic tea. Chia tea has traditionally been used for fevers and pain relief, to relieve arthritis and respiratory problems, as a gargle for mouth ulcers and sore throats, and to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you want to sweeten your chia tea, use a healthy sweetener like honey or stevia.

  7. Add Chia to Bread MIx
    When baking bread, I sometimes toss a handful of chia seeds in the mix. This is not the healthiest way to eat chia because essential fatty acids are at their best when uncooked, but it makes the bread a little lighter and provides a nice change in texture.

  8. Use Chia to Feed Birds and Animals
    Extra chia leaves I feed to my hens, pigs, or other animals. The animals would eat the seeds too, but I keep most of the seeds for human consumption and planting next year. If I've had a bumper crop, I feed chia seeds to my chickens and other birds.

  9. Chia as Garden Mulch
    If you don't have animals, use the chia leaves as mulch. Remember though, if you have not removed all the seeds they are likely to grow where they fall. To avoid random chia plants growing in your garden, add the leaves and stalks to your compost heap.

  10. Give the Gift of Chia
    Home-grown chia makes a wonderful gift. Package seeds in a jar or bottle for those who like to eat chia, and give one of your small plants to anyone who likes to garden.

Chia Leaves

Chia leaves: Pick and dry them to make tea.
Chia leaves: Pick and dry them to make tea. | Source

Where to Grow Chia

Before you choose where to plant chia seeds or transplant your seedlings, it helps to have a realistic expectation of the size of a mature chia plant. Chia plants grow to the size of a large bush or small tree.

If you grow herbs in small pots or tucked tightly together in an outdoor herb garden, you'll need to find a new spot for chia. Chia grows taller than most herbs and takes up a lot of space, so give thought to where you'll grow it.

Chia is not a ground-hugger like mint, and it will grow much taller than even the biggest parsley, sage, or rosemary plants. You need to provide sufficient space (and head room) for your chia to expand before it flowers.

My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult. Some reach six feet or more while others settle and flower at about five feet tall. If you intend to grow chia in a pot, it is important to anticipate the size of a mature chia plant when choosing the pot size.

How Big Does a Chia Plant Grow?

How tall does your chia grow? My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult.
How tall does your chia grow? My organic chia plants grow as tall as an adult. | Source

How to Grow Organic Chia

Chia seeds are tiny. You don't need to dig a hole to bury them. Lightly ruffle an area of your weed-free garden with a rake or, if you only have a few seeds and are spacing them carefully, simply loosen the earth with your fingers. Sprinkle a few seeds over the soil and rub gently to cover them.

Water the seeds daily, and within about a week you can expect to see chia sprouts.

When planting chia seeds directly in the garden, I create a carpet of chia and then thin the plants as they grow. Some are fed to the hens, some are used as mulch, and some are harvested while young to dry the leaves for chia tea.

Chia seeds can also germinate successfully in pots. If you want to start your chia plants indoors or close to your garden tap, sprinkle the seeds lightly in your pot and water regularly. When the sprouts are about three inches tall, they are ready for transplanting.

Remember to mulch your chia plants as they grow, and water them regularly. They thrive in an organic garden and don't like competing with weeds.

Here's some hints to remember:

  1. Don't clear existing weeds until you are ready to fill the space.
  2. When it's time to plant, work gently. Don't dig up or turn all the top soil (thereby exposing a whole new lot of weed seeds).
  3. Plant your new seeds in the freshly cleared space without inviting unnecessary competition from deeper weed seeds.
  4. Add mulch and compost and anything you like to make your garden healthier as your plants grow, but put it on top and let it feed the soil from above.

Chia Seedlings

Chia seeds germinated in a pot.
Chia seeds germinated in a pot. | Source

Plant and Eat Chia Seeds!

Chosen Foods Organic Chia Seeds, 16 Ounce
Chosen Foods Organic Chia Seeds, 16 Ounce

In the average garden you only need to sprinkle a few seeds. Even in very large gardens like mine, you're unlikely to want to grow more than a dozen chia plants. Thin the plants as they start to grow. While waiting for your own harvest, enjoy eating the rest of the chia seeds in the pack!

 

Time Lapse Sequence of Chia Seeds Sprouting

Chia Flowering

In addition to the health benefits associated with eating the seeds and drinking tea made from the leaf, chia flowers look lovely in the garden.
In addition to the health benefits associated with eating the seeds and drinking tea made from the leaf, chia flowers look lovely in the garden. | Source

Harvesting Chia Seeds

The size of your harvest will determine how many days are required to separate the seeds, but if I don't have time, I store dried flower heads in a large calico bag until I have time for my next seed separating session.

Successful collection of chia seeds without waste has a lot to do with timing. When growing chia at home, it is possible to pick individual flower heads when they look ready instead of doing a mass harvesting like they do in a commercial growing environment.

If you wait until the flower head browns, you risk losing the seeds.

  • Begin harvesting your chia as soon as most of the petals have fallen off the flower.
  • Give the heads time to dry in paper bags or on a drying rack. Expect at least some of the chia seeds will break free in the process.
  • Do not hang the plants upside down in your shed.

Ready for Harvest

The easiest way to harvest chia is to pick it. Wait until most of the petals have fallen. If in doubt, check for seeds before harvesting your seed heads.
The easiest way to harvest chia is to pick it. Wait until most of the petals have fallen. If in doubt, check for seeds before harvesting your seed heads. | Source
Dried chia flower heads, ready for seed separation. Picked at the right time and allowed to dry, the chia seeds are easy to separate and collect.
Dried chia flower heads, ready for seed separation. Picked at the right time and allowed to dry, the chia seeds are easy to separate and collect. | Source

Harvesting Chia: So Easy a Child Can Do It!

Harvesting chia is great fun for children.

Because I insist on growing everything organically, there are no pesticides or chemicals to fear at harvest time. Together, the children and I pick the flower heads, put them in paper bags left open so the air can circulate, and wait for them to dry.

Children love to crush the flower heads and loosen the seeds. Chia is one of those lovely plants that doesn't have sharp or prickly parts. Even when dry, they still feel relatively soft on your hands. I set the children up with their own work area and they can busy themselves for a full day.

Meanwhile, I work separately.

Separating the Chia Seed from the Flower Head

My children conduct science experiments with chia. They explore different ways to separate the seed.
My children conduct science experiments with chia. They explore different ways to separate the seed. | Source

Crushing Chia Flower Heads

The fastest and easiest way to crush the dried flower heads and extract the chia seeds is to rub with a flat hand.
The fastest and easiest way to crush the dried flower heads and extract the chia seeds is to rub with a flat hand. | Source
Once the chia flower head is rolled and crushed, pour the seeds and debris into a sifter.
Once the chia flower head is rolled and crushed, pour the seeds and debris into a sifter. | Source

Other Ways to Harvest Chia

If you turn your back as your chia matures, and you find it is really too late to pick your flower heads without losing too many seeds, there's a more effective way of collecting the seeds than thrashing the plant.

Simply hold a bag underneath and shake one flower head at a time. This will be a slow and arduous process if you are growing a lot of chia plants, but the seeds will fall freely.

If your seed heads are very dry and the seed is difficult to catch, try cutting the whole head off with scissors. The falling seeds will land in the bag. When you get back to your kitchen, separating the remaining seeds may be as simple as shaking, instead of rolling, the individual seed heads.

In my experience, the simplest, easiest, and most effective way to harvest your chia is to wait for most of the flowers to fall and pick when there are only a small number of petals remaining. Nature will help the seeds dry and become firm if you allow plenty of fresh air to circulate around your plants.

Growing more chia is easy. Toss some of your harvested chia seeds in your garden in the spring and enjoy the benefits of homegrown organic chia for years.

This Video Made Me Laugh...

There is no need to slap the plant the way the people in the video do. I don't actually see a chia plant in their garden, but perhaps it is a different variety from the one most of us are familiar with.

If I put in as much effort as they did, I would want to see a much bigger bag of chia seeds for my effort. :)

Collecting chia seeds in my organic garden is much more pleasant and a lot less work.

Nutritional Value of Black, White, and Brown Chia Seeds: Which Color Is Best?

Chia seeds come in various shades of brown, gray, black, and white. In fact, the accepted definition of "black chia" includes gray and brown chia seeds. Yes, it has always been the case with chia that brown is black. (In name, at least.) Black chia has traditionally been the name given to any chia seed that isn't white (which, incidentally isn't really white, either).

I was warned that since commercial cloning has resulted in the production of darker seeds, PR teams were generating controversy around the "superior nutrition" of black chia, making the darker seeds seem more valuable and (hopefully) undermining the status of natural chia. So if you ever hear anyone claim that black chia is better, think again.

It came as no surprise to me that when I googled the subject of black and white chia seeds being the only ones suitable for consumption, dismissing the value of brown seeds, the one and only company making that claim about brown chia seeds is — you guessed it — the very same chia company I'd been warned about.

It seems the word of doubt is starting to spread, but don't believe what they tell you — the brown seeds are in no way inferior (and, in fact, their brown color may be a sign that they're natural!). Folks who simply repeat what they read on the internet will fall for the PR stunt but those who know about chia, through research and personal experience, will always know it is a load of hogwash.

People can – and will – grow chia in their yards, with varying levels of success. Whether they plant black, white, or brown chia seeds from whichever packet of chia they have in their cupboards makes no real difference.

Stalk of a Chia Plant

Chia plants have very distinctive stalks. At later stages they are clearly ribbed but at first, you may need to rub it to feel the ribs. In this photo, taken at the end of the season, the ribs are very obvious.
Chia plants have very distinctive stalks. At later stages they are clearly ribbed but at first, you may need to rub it to feel the ribs. In this photo, taken at the end of the season, the ribs are very obvious. | Source

World Shortage of Chia!

Have you seen news of a world shortage of chia? Lately, there have been sporadic shortages during which chia seeds were hard to obtain. At one point, all chia wholesale companies in Europe were sold out. Undoubtedly, as word spreads of chia's healthy properties, demand for the seeds will continue to increase.

All it takes is one bad season in a major chia growing area for seeds to become more difficult and more expensive to buy. To my way of thinking, that's even more reason to plant and harvest your own chia.

Have I answered your questions about growing and harvesting chia?

Is there sufficient information provided here to meet your immediate needs?

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© 2013 LongTimeMother

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    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 33 hours ago from Australia

      Harvesting seeds from two acres of chia plants will be a lot of work so you really should find a buyer as quickly as possible to help cover the costs of getting people to help harvest the seed at the right time. It will be heartbreaking if the seeds fall to the ground.

      Talk to local business owners. It should be easier to sell locally instead of trying to cross international borders. Good luck!

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      Omedo Thaddews Olupot 47 hours ago

      I have grown two acres of organic chia. It's doing so well. My neighbours have also grown in Eastern Uganda. We are looking for market. Please if you are interested let me know. I could collect for you the quantity you are require. Thank you.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 8 days ago from Australia

      You are absolutely correct, shuesler. There's a significant difference between chia and chai. Chia tea just needs chia leaves. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 8 days ago from Australia

      Kelly, there's 288 comments at the bottom of this article, with questions and answers. Yours is the only comment that expresses disappointment in the 4 years since I first published this article. Perhaps you failed to notice I'm one woman growing chia in my part of Australia ... sharing my experience.

      You should be seeking out some kind of horticultural publication if you're expecting that level of detail. This is a record of my experience ... nothing more, nothing less. That's why my article is titled 'How I Grow and Harvest Organic Chia Seeds'. (Not 'How everyone else in the world can grow them'.)

      Good luck finding the kind of publication you're looking for.

    • profile image

      Kelly 9 days ago

      I didn't see much about how to actually GROW chia. What kind of light does it like? What time of year do you plant it (is it a cold or warm weather crop). What kind of soil (rich, sandy, etc.), what kind of pH for the soil, how much water does it need, what temp is it hardy to, how far apart to plant each seed or thin seedlings, do they need pollination, do they easily grow back the next year (by dropping seeds). So much about how to grow them that was not covered here. Disappointed.

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      shuesler 2 weeks ago

      ummmm, I think I answered my own question....chia and chai are not the same thing!!!! My bad.

    • profile image

      shuesler 2 weeks ago

      Hi, thanks for the information about growing chia plants. I am a bit confused, though about using the leaves to make chia tea? Could you explain?

      I thought Chia Tea was made from:

      Black tea, milk, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and mace.....and sometimes black pepper

      There are no chia seeds or chia plant leaves in Chia Tea.....or?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 2 weeks ago from Australia

      Hi Stephan. I'm an Aussie so I'm not familiar with Southern VA. (Virginia, right?) Google tells me at least part of Virginia is 'humid sub-tropical' climate. If that's your climate, I'd expect chia plants to flower and seed.

      However, as I've said many times, I'm no authority on how chia will perform in different parts of the world, which is why I suggest people experiment with a few plants in different parts of their garden.

      Sounds like you've gone to a lot of effort to create an ideal growing environment for your chia and, so far, it is working out fine. 6-7 feet tall is what you're aiming for in a good, mature chia plant.

      Perhaps try pruning some in the hope of forcing them to go to seed, but that might have been better if you'd reduced the size of the plants earlier in the season. I really don't know what to expect, sorry.

      I will say this though, when the flowers and seeds kick in, the process seems quite prompt. I'm hoping there's still a chance you'll get a crop of seeds.

      Please let me know how it works out for you. Good luck.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 2 weeks ago from Australia

      Cindy, I've googled 'zone three' because I live in Australia where we don't have numbered zones like you do. Here's what I've learned ... "Gardening Zone 3. Winter hardiness is very important in zone 3. Temperatures average -40 to -30 F, and plant roots freeze even though snow cover offers some protection. USDA zone 3 stretches along the Canada-US border in North America."

      Gee, that looks cold. I've never tried growing chia plants in such a cold climate so I can't offer you anything from experience. I'm impressed you've grown your chia plants to 6 feet and more ... but I fear you might not have a long enough/warm enough season to get seeds from your plants. What a shame if that's the case.

      I don't think you did anything wrong, Cindy. You've obviously given the space they need and looked after them. If you were in Florida or somewhere else that's warm, you'd no doubt have a very successful harvest. I'm hoping you still might be lucky enough to get seeds, but I fear that might just be wishful thinking. Perhaps you could try pruning one of your plants to try to force it to go to seed, with less foliage to look after. But maybe it is too late in the season.

      Sorry I can't be more help. But thanks for sharing your experience, for the benefit of other readers in 'zone 3'. I'll be watching for future comments from you if you choose to tell us what happens in coming weeks.

      Please remember, chia leaves have medicinal qualities so it would be worth your effort to pick leaves and put them in paper bags to dry. (Put them in a warm place indoors and shake the bags often to make sure the leaves get plenty of air to avoid mould.)

      It must be frustrating living in that climate, Cindy. I feel for you.

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      Stephan Phifer 2 weeks ago

      My chia in fields of 150 x 100ft with rows of a tractor tire width has grown to 6-7 ft tall starting in March in Southern VA but by Oct has not flowered or seeded. Plants are strong and healthy looking. What could be the problem? The planting was over newly cleared out and burned over ground on top of a hill that has not been farmed in 45 years other than harvesting grass.

    • profile image

      Cindy Gulbrandson 2 weeks ago

      I live in zone three. I started my Chia plants in the spring in doors in pots and planted them outside. The plants reached height of 6 feet plus, but it is now the beginning of October and I still have no flour heads. Did I do something wrong?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 weeks ago from Australia

      I've never paid attention to how many cups of chia seeds can be collected from each plant, Olivia. However I'd be surprised if any family needed more than a few chia plants, if you can grow them big and harvest from them successfully.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 weeks ago from Australia

      You'd be best advised to ask your questions to a local authority, parviz. Why? Because I've only ever grown chia plants in my home gardens in Australia so I'm not in a position to advise anyone about large scale chia plantations, especially in other parts of the world. Good luck with your chia plantation.

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      Olivia 3 weeks ago

      How many cups of seeds will one plant produce if you are only recommending planting 12 plants?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 4 weeks ago from Australia

      The person who posted that video and labelled it 'gathering chia' obviously believes it is chia, Deirdre. As I said in the article, my chia looks nothing like that. A very helpful commenter explained about it more than a year ago. Here's the quote, in case you can't find it ...

      "Re; the video showing California native plant chia. Yours is definitely different. The California chia has SPINEY flower heads. And they hurt to touch. That's why they are beating them with a beater of some sort. The leaves are lobed also.

      Video shows modern version of how the ancient native Americans harvested."

      Hope that helps clear it up for you.

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      Deirdrie 5 weeks ago

      are you sure the crop being gathered is chia? It looks more like poppy heads . I am only asking because some chia plants may look different from salvia.

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      nega 7 weeks ago

      nice!thanks!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 7 weeks ago from Australia

      Here's my answers to recent questions and comments about growing chia plants.

      @gtfacegha, I'm a home grower of chia and I live in Australia so I really can't advise you about growing chia seed commercially in your part of the world. Good luck with making enquiries elsewhere.

      @Maria, if you are growing your chia in pots I hope they're really big pots. Have your plants grown as tall as you are? As I explained in this article, a mature chia plant is a very big plant. If yours aren't yet fully grown, I suggest you keep them alive in a greenhouse or somewhere warm throughout winter, then plant them out straight into the garden for your next growing season. Hopefully you'll then get flowers and seeds.

      @Godfrey, I see no reason why you couldn't grow chia intercropped with other plants. I'd suggest something shorter than chia though. I doubt chia would thrive among corn plants, for instance. If you're getting lots of sun and plenty of rain, chia might thrive in your area. But I'm only guessing so please start small with chia plants in a number of different locations with different crops so you can see how well it works before expanding your venture.

      My top tip for you is to take another look at just how big each mature chia plant will grow (see my photos) and be sure to remove any excess seedlings. Your biggest problem will be if you try to grow too many plants without enough room for each one.

      @Zone, I'm thinking Salt Lake City is probably not a great place for growing chia plants, but I'm an Australian so I don't have any real knowledge about your part of the world. If you can bring them indoors for winter, do so. Then plant them out in spring (with plenty of room for growth) and see if you can successfully spread their growth and seeding over the two different growing seasons.

      As always, I'll be interested to hear whether or not any of you have success. Good luck with your chia growing!

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      gtfadegha@yahoo.com 2 months ago

      I want to grow Chai Seed commercial where I can get market and I need to know also better harvesting techniques

    • profile image

      Maria 2 months ago

      I started my chia plants indoors in March and planted them outside (in pots) after the last frost. It's almost the end of August, and I only see leaves. I haven't seen one flower or any seeds, and the summer is almost over. Where did I go wrong?

    • profile image

      Godfrey Kioko 2 months ago

      I live in Kitale, Kenya. We get rain throughout the year and our farms are small 1/4 acres to the most farmers. I would like to coordinate farmers to plant and use Chia as an economic activity. Can Chia be intercroped with other crops?

    • profile image

      Zone 2 months ago

      What zones (climate) can chia grow in? I live on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Ut. Would I need bring chia plants into the greenhouse for winter?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 months ago from Australia

      Hi Will. Because I've never been to Uganda or Maine, I'd have to google for a clue about climates in both places. Makes more sense for you to do the search. :)

      If you read all the comments as well as my article, you can consider my brain well and truly 'picked' for my knowledge about growing chia. Can't think of anything fresh to add.

      You have some chia plants now, so it is simply a matter of time before you find out how well they do. I guess you'll have to be mindful of seasons. Make sure you keep them protected during the coming winter. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Will Bonsall 3 months ago

      How long and hot a season do they require? I recently was given some chia plants from an African woman who said she grows them in Uganda; what does that portend for mine here in Maine (which are thriving so far)?

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      Rico 3 months ago

      This is very informative, thanks. I will be planting soon and hoping for a success.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 months ago from Australia

      Sounds nice, Clazza, but I hope you're not adding sugar or artificial sweetener to your healthy chia seeds. I'm thinking your fruits and cinnamon (or cacao) should add sufficient sweetness. If not, try natural stevia leaves or a small amount of honey. Glad to hear you're enjoying chia, and thanks for sharing.

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      Clazza 3 months ago

      My favourite way to eat chia is chia pudding.

      2 tbs chia, 1/2 cup liquid, 2 tsp sweetener and whatever else like cacao or cinnamon plus berries and banana. Put in fridge for at least 4 hours. Great breaky!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 months ago from Australia

      If you read my article and all my answers to the many questions I've received about growing chia over the years, there's not much more I can add. By looking at my answers to others, you might be able to figure out how your climate and location compares to theirs. If you are genuinely interested in trying to grow chia, I suggest just tossing a few seeds on the ground at the beginning of your growing season and doing your own experiment. Good luck.

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      Mrs. Ng 3 months ago

      May I know if Chia plant can grow in hot weather like Singapore?

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      Swee 3 months ago

      1. Can chia seeds be eaten raw?

      2. Must chia seeds be put under the sun to dry before eating?

      3. Can Chia sprouts be put under the sun to dry before using for tea? How tall the sprouts before we cut the sprouts?

      4. Before harvasting for chia seeds, must we sun the flower heads?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 months ago from Australia

      I do not know about the weather in Thailand but I've successfully grown and harvested chia seeds in Queensland, Australia. If your weather is similar to the weather at the Gold Coast in Australia, you should be fine. Just make sure you give your chia seeds plenty of water and some protection from the hottest part of the day. Good luck.

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      Pisit M. 3 months ago

      Thanks for posting such an informative article. I will definitely try growing chia in my garden.

      Would the weather in Thailand be supportive enough, its mainly hot all around the year, with a peak of 40-42 deg C?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 4 months ago from Australia

      Thanks for sharing your research, aijiko. I look forward to hearing the results of your experience. I'm always happy for other growers to share their additional hints here. In the 4 years since I wrote this article, I'm sure there's been a lot of new chia growers coming on board.

      Newbie chia grower, you make me laugh. You planted the entire contents of a large bag of chia? Those deer will have to work hard to thin them. lol. Just make sure you leave enough room for at least some of them to grow to maturity. As for the timing from chia seed to harvest, the previous commenter shared some thoughts. I've never counted the days, and each different climate will produce different results.

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      Newbechiagrower 4 months ago

      How many days to maturity from seed to harvest? I planted a large bag of chia seed and didn't realize they got so big? I'm having a hard time keeping the deer out of it, but they are thinning it for me. :)

    • profile image

      aijiko 4 months ago

      Just wanted to chime in after doing a page search for words like "zone" and "days" (looking for days to maturity) and things like that. I have mined out what I feel might be the answer to people's questions about zone. Keep in mind that I have not tried this yet, but be assured that I will as soon as I'm able.

      There are some plants whose days to maturity can be greatly manipulated by the amount of sunlight they get per day. By your comment:

      "There are lots of variables when growing chia. For instance, in some areas chia will grow, flower and seed within 100 days. Yet in other regions it can take 150 days."

      I am assuming that at least some (if not all) types of chia plants fall into this category and so give we who live closer to the poles some hope of being able to grow it.

      I am also glad that I came across this comment:

      "chia plants need sunlight without being fried"

      Since I live in a high desert, this is important for me.

      So my suggestion for those who think their climate is too cold is to take your advice and try. Start indoors, plant out after all danger of frost and maybe cover with 10% shade cloth if you have seriously scorching sun like I do.

      Thank you so much for the article. It has inspired me and I am excited to try growing chia now. Maybe these two tidbits I found helpful could have been included in your article, but it's also fun to push the limits and try new things to learn these details for ourselves. I felt this was an excellent stepping off point.

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      Anonymous 4 months ago

      When do flowers start to grow?

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      Njeri Karanja-Kenya 4 months ago

      Wow! I found it interesting and hope it will solve my nutritional issues. I have black chia on the desk already. Thanks

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      Maria M 4 months ago

      I've finally found a chia recipe that I love. Now I want to grow my own chia. We have about 4-5 months of spring/summer here. Can I grow chia indoors during the winter?

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      Maria 5 months ago

      I'd love to grow my own chia, but we don't have a very good climate. Can I grow it indoors? I bought a chia pet last year. Can I grow chia seeds on a chia pet. Thanks! (By the way, this was the most helpful chia article I've read!)

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      Gail 5 months ago

      can chia be grown in the northeast. I'm in zone 3-4.

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      Dele Alonge 5 months ago

      Very interesting link

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      LongTimeMother 5 months ago from Australia

      A chia plant is not really a tree, Dean. I've always pulled the old plants after harvest to be replaced by new ones, but depending on your climate you might be able to just chop the plants back and see if they flower again. I've never bothered trying it. How many seeds you'll get from each plant differs, depending on the soil, climate etc. I suggest you grow half a dozen chia plants and see how much yield you get.

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      Dean Aiolias 5 months ago

      How many chia trees do i need to serve a 4-member family? By the way, How long will the trees grow seed, I guess when I harvest, I'll have to grow new trees.

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      LongTimeMother 6 months ago from Australia

      Shade for part of the day works well if your climate is extremely hot and sunny. But remember, chia plants need warmth and light throughout their life. Particularly if you want to harvest lots of chia seeds from your plants. I'm pleased my explanation was helpful. Thank you.

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      Dr Sarjeet Singh 6 months ago

      THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR GIVING SUCH A GOOD INFORMATION ABOUT ORGANIC CHIA GARDENING/CULTIVATION AND COLOUR VARIATIONS IN SEED, THEIR FOOD VALUE ETC. I AM VERY MUCH IMPRESSED BY YOUR SIMPLE WAY OF EXPLAINING THE WHOLE PROCESS OF CULTIVATION. HOWEVER, I HAVE A QUESTION WHETHER CHIA PLANTS CANBE GROWN UNDER SHADE OR NOT..

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      LongTimeMother 6 months ago from Australia

      I watched your video, Hans and saw you planting amaranth and millet. No sign of any chia. However I enjoyed seeing you in your garden and I'm guessing you planted your chia the same way.

      Here's a tip to make life a little easier for you. There's no need to use your rake on the ground after planting chia. Just toss the chia seeds on your prepared soil and water them. The seeds are tiny are take root easily. A light watering will help 'bury' them enough for them to take root. And you can save yourself a lot of work if you throw fewer chia seeds. Many handfuls of seed will result in too many chia plants to cope with. You'd have to pull many plants out as they start growing because each chia plant (given sufficient room) will grow as big as you are. Have a look at how much space you take up when you're standing in your garden. That's how much room each chia plant requires to grow to full size and create lots of new chia seeds.

      Mind you, I also grow amaranth and each plant grows to the size of a man as well. So I'm guessing you'll have a lot of extra small plants to feed to your chickens over the coming months as you weed them out. :) It is always to meet another avid gardener. Good luck with this year's harvest.

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      Qberry Farm 6 months ago

      I have been gardening for over 70 years so I am not afraid to experiment. I have a large pumpkin patch that has been covered with carpet for 3 years so it is mostly weed free. This year I am planting it to all the small seeds I buy in bulk for my daily "bread". This year I have added chia and I was not sure what it would be like at harvest. Google gave your site as the answer; thank you . Here is a video of how I planted it though not when I planted it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3B3lSz8UAY

      I have several plants with the same seed strategy; you have to carefully hold the seed head upright and not shake it if mature. more tedious harvesting but less separating. I should have a harvest in July or August. The kale in the video should have set seed by then.

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      ane 7 months ago

      how long do they live for?

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      Joey 7 months ago

      can they grow in a tropical country? how long does it take to harvest the seeds?

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      LongTimeMother 7 months ago from Australia

      Taylor, chia plants need sunlight without being fried. So it depends on how extreme your climate is.

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      LongTimeMother 7 months ago from Australia

      You're welcome, Jamie. Good luck with your gardening adventures. I grow a multitude of herbs and plants for medicinal use. So many more I could write about, maybe one day. Most of the articles I read online about growing herbs are obviously written by people who obviously don't grow them in their own gardens. They fail to mention the most obvious points that would be useful to actual growers.

      As for the comments, I answer them because I like the idea of people growing their own plants like chia. It would be nice, however, if people would occasionally come back and celebrate their success with me at harvest time. I like to think they're all too busy harvesting their seeds, lol.

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      Taylor 7 months ago

      Do they grow in direct sunlight or should I plant it in a shadier spot

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      JamieRRobillardSr 7 months ago from Macon, GA USA

      Excellent article thanks for sharing. I look forward to your other gardening articles as well.

      In one of the comments someone asked if they could use the kind of Chia that grows on the orange bricks. The answer is yes. That would be a Chia Pet which was probably the first way that Chia was introduced to America ;).

      Wow, I cannot believe your patience. So many people asking the same questions over and over again. Even when they were just answered a few comments away. I am a software developer and in the Open Source Software communities we typically ignore such questions. If they are not will to read the information already available to them, then chances are they are not serious anyway.

      Okay, I need to go check out some of your other article especially the one on growing Stevia!

      Take care, and thanks again!

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      LongTimeMother 7 months ago from Australia

      I've still never met anyone who is prepared to answer that question, RST. I've explained my reasons numerous times in the comments section here. So many factors will determine how many seeds each chia plant provides. You won't know for sure until you grow one in your own region. Good luck.

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      R S T 7 months ago

      How much do you get from one plant?

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      Alinil 7 months ago

      thank you for your article. its absolute :)

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      LongTimeMother 8 months ago from Australia

      I'm pleased to see you are interested in growing chia seeds, RM TAmayo. I suggest you read through all the comments at the bottom of my article. You'll find lots of answers and additional information in there. You'll quickly notice, however, that your questions are not easy to answer. There are many variables, based on local factors so I can't predict your harvest time or how many grams of seeds to expect.

      One thing won't change however, and that's the need for a very big pot. I've discussed it at length with other readers in the comments section. Hope it helps.

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      LongTimeMother 8 months ago from Australia

      Experimenter, you'll be surprised how easily those chia seeds will take off! Just keep them watered, and be prepared to move them out of the pot as they grow.

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      LongTimeMother 8 months ago from Australia

      Hi Callie. I'm not familiar with Michigan. I've never counted the days, but chia takes what feels like a long time to finally seed. Certainly, much longer than tomatoes take to fruit. Plant them out when the weather gets warm (certainly not during risk of frost, unless you keep them protected somehow.) Yes, they'll still seed if you keep them shorter. Your greenhouse is probably a good option. Good luck.

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      LongTimeMother 8 months ago from Australia

      Hi Kathleen. I suspect you'd have trouble getting chia to develop mature seeds in Tasmania. I know you have a hot summer, but I'm not sure you're hot season would be long enough. You could give it a try though. If you have a pack of chia seeds on hand, you could simply sprinkle seeds in a few different places in your garden at the first sign of spring, and see how you go. Excess (or unsuccessful) plants can be used as a good mulch on other plants. Best of luck.

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      Kathleen Millhouse 8 months ago

      Hi, I am living in Tasmania and wondering what time of year is best to plant them. Also do i plant the in full, part sun or shade. Cheers Kathleen.

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      Callie Welch 8 months ago

      I need to know about how many days it takes from transplant to harvest. Do I plant the out in cool temperatures or warm like tomatoes? If you trim them shorter will they still make seeds? I live in Michigan and if it takes too long I won't be able to grow them outside my greenhouse.

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      Experimenter 8 months ago

      I was just introduced to chia by my son. I sprinkled a few seeds in a pot and decided to search for information. Very interesting hub. I now await the results and further experiment. Thanks.

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      RM Tamayo 8 months ago

      Hi! I hope you don't mind if I ask some questions...

      One, how many months does it take from planting to harvest?

      Second, on average, how many grams of seeds can be harvested from a dozen plants?

      And lastly, if I plant the chia in pots, how big you think should my pot be?

      Thanks so much!

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      LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia

      Thanks for your feedback, drachir555. If every home grew chia and other foods in the backyard to share with family and friends, I'm sure we'd have a much happier and healthier world!

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      drachir555 9 months ago

      This article is astoundingly complete. All you ever need to know about adding Chia to your garden. Thanks!

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      LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia

      I'm glad you've experienced how easy chia is to grow, Minia. I'll be interested in hearing how your chia gardening goes. I doubt you'll have success growing chia indoors ~ but I'm particularly interested in hearing about your rooftop garden.

      Have you factored in the size of the chia plants, and how much soil it would take to support each plant? Plus, chia plants need regular water. If you do manage to grow chia on your roof, please send me a photo. Good luck with it. I'd love to hear an update!

      And a quick note to Lyiko Kato. Unfortunately I doubt chia will mature to seed in Japan. I could be wrong, but I believe your growing season is not quite long enough. Sorry. If you can get chia plants to flower, you're nearly there. Perhaps try one in a pot that can be moved indoors simply for the seeding process. It would have to be a big pot though, so perhaps not worth the effort.

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      LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia

      Barbara, I have added an amazon link to help you find organic chia seeds. I live in Australia but often buy items from amazon in the US. Wherever you are, you can order from them. (There's a few exceptions where it becomes more complicated, like some of the African nations. But if you can access them, they're great.)

      David, I've hidden your comment so your email is not displayed, but I suggest you take a look as well. :)

      Thanks for your positive feedback, JJ.

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      LongTimeMother 9 months ago from Australia

      Here's my answers to some of the recent questions about growing chia. Husna asked, can chia grow in Malaysia? Probably. I successfully grew chia in Queensland, a tropical region in Australia.

      Tracy, I just sprinkle the chia seeds and then thin them down until the final plants are about an arm's length from each other. I've never really paid attention to how long it takes from planting to harvest, but it takes a long time compared to many other plants. Don't lose sleep worrying about companion planting. Just put some seeds in the ground at the start of your growing season. :)

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      Lyiko Kato 9 months ago

      Thank you so much for your great study about Chia! I also tried to grow chia in Japan,but it wasn't in success. Chia's beautiful blue flower heads appeared but the next step, the seeds didn't. So would you tell me the best season to plant and grow or the best climate:) thanks!

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      JJ 9 months ago

      Great article. Thank you.

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      Minia 10 months ago

      Great article, very complete, thank you for sharing !! I have Chia plants that have grown accidentally in my tomatoes and Potatoes planters this fall (originally had it in my morning smoothie and when I couldn't finish it I just pour it all into the soil without really thinking). It is indeed very easy to grow, undemanding. And with the rain we had here on the west coast this past month, they just thrived. Now I'm really considering to grow them at home (indoor and rooftop gardening) :-D

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      Barbara Richter 10 months ago

      WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO BUY ORGANIC CHIA SEEDS?

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      Tracy 10 months ago

      I have a few questions. What is the optimal spacing of plants? What is the approximate time from plant to harvest? Are there dos and don'ts for companion planting. I can't wait to and chis to my garden.

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      husna shafirah 10 months ago

      is it possible to plant it in Malaysia ?? we are tropical climate country ??

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 11 months ago from Australia

      There are lots of variables when growing chia. For instance, in some areas chia will grow, flower and seed within 100 days. Yet in other regions it can take 150 days. There's a big difference between 3 months and 5 months. Obviously I'm not in a position to advise everyone around the world whether or not chia will grow in your local climate, so you'll have to do some local research.

      When it comes to soil, I've lived in different places where I've grown chia in sandy soil, clay soil and loam. My approach has always been to toss some chia seeds in the ground and experiment. But if you're reluctant to try experimenting, you'll need to find someone who views themselves as more of an authority than I am. Growing chia is just one very small element in my busy life. Sorry I can't help you further.

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      javaid 11 months ago

      what sort of climate and soil would be suitable for chia cultivation? would appreciate a reply to this query.

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      Bill 11 months ago

      We don't all live in your neighborhood, and most plants won't grow or thrive in every climate. That's the reason zones were developed. Since your country doesn't utilize zones, a little detailed information about the climate chia is best suited for would help. Instead of just advising everyone to try it and see how it does.

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      LongTimeMother 11 months ago from Australia

      No, Vichelle. There is really no point in trying to grow chia indoors. The plants grow huge. We're not talking about a little basil or mint plant. As I explained in the article, each chia plant can be expected to grow larger than a person. So each chia plant would require a very big pot to accommodate its roots and keep it stable. Plus they take a long time to mature and develop chia seeds. So I think your indoor garden space would be better used for growing culinary herbs (with medicinal qualities) and some aloe vera. I suggest you wait until you have outdoor garden space before trying to grow chia.

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      Vichelle 11 months ago

      Hi, is it ok to grow this indoors? I live in an urban area and we don't have a backyard. :-/

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      LongTimeMother 13 months ago from Australia

      Wow. Starting a chia business at your school sounds like an interesting idea. If your flowers didn't bloom, there's a few possible problems.

      1) Perhaps your chia plants weren't getting enough sunshine, water or mulch (as food).

      2) Perhaps your chia plants are too close together. Did you leave enough space for each one to grow as tall as an adult?

      3) Your growing season might be too short. Did you plant them out at the first sign of warm spring weather?

      I notice your name is 'Icyfox' so I wonder if you live somewhere with a really long winter. If you think the problem with your chia is due to the first two potential problems, try again next season. But if your growing season is too short, that won't be good for your chia business. :(

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      Icyfox 13 months ago

      This site was very useful. I actually started a chia business at my school! This site helped a lot. Unfortunately the flowers did not bloom. I was wondering why they didn't and when do they usually bloom.

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      LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia

      Paula, I have no experience and no idea whether or not chia can be harvested by machine. I grow chia in my own yard for my own personal use, with enough chia seeds to give to friends and family. And, because I've never been to South Africa I'm not familiar with your local climate. You'll probably just have to experiment to establish the answers to your questions. Good luck.

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      What is the best time to plant chai seeds ? In winter or summer? I live in Oudtshoorn in south africa .Hope to hear from you soon .regards 15 months ago

      Very interedting

      Can inplant chai seeds in winter of summer?

      Will ig grow in oudtshoorn in RSA?

      Can it also be harvested by a machine ?

      Regards

      Paula potgieter

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      LongTimeMother 15 months ago from Australia

      Chia can be grown in the tropics, Mario, but you'll have to experiment with the best time to plant, giving shade etc. There's lots of discussions with people all around the world in these comments. If you take time to read through them, you'll find lots of extra hints. Good luck.

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      Mario Cassandra 16 months ago

      Does Chia grow in tropical climate? are those sprouts withstanding with 30-34 degree Celcius?

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      LongTimeMother 16 months ago from Australia

      You can cut leaves from anywhere on a chia plant, Melissa, once the plant has had time to become established. There's an abundance of leaves and you could, in theory, harvest up to 50% of the leaves from a mature chia plant without compromising seed development.

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      Melissa Lyons 16 months ago

      I'd like to harvest the seeds, but I also want some of the leaves. Do I just cut the leaves from the bottom of the plant, or is there another way I can use the leaves without disrupting the process for the seeds?

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      LongTimeMother 16 months ago from Australia

      My chia is Salvia Hispanica. I'm quietly confident you could successfully grow and harvest the same chia in your California climate. Just start with the same chia seeds you use for eating, and then follow the instructions in my article. You are right about gathering the seed. No spines on the flower heads!

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      wotnot 16 months ago

      HI,

      Enjoyed your article.

      I've been 'encouraging' chia to grow in my yard the last 3 years.

      Re; the video showing California native plant chia. Yours is definitely different. The California chia has SPINEY flower heads. And they hurt to touch. That's why they are beating them with a beater of some sort. The leaves are lobed also.

      Video shows modern version of how the ancient native Americans harvested.

      What is the scientific name of your chia?

      I wonder if it would grow here in Calif. It would be a lot easier to gather the seed!

      thanks,

      Wotnot

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      LongTimeMother 16 months ago from Australia

      I garden with the help of nature. I plant my chia early in Spring, and I harvest my chia whenever the plants look ready (as you'll see in the photos.) I never pay attention to precise temperatures, dates etc. For me, gardening is far more natural than that. Most years, my chia successfully flowers and seeds. Occasionally nature throws me a curve ball and I get unexpected frosts really early (or late) and lots of my plants suffer, including my chia. But that's life.

      Whether you plant your chia in direct sunshine or not is a decision each gardener needs make, dependent on their own climate. If you have relentless sun during summer, try planting your chia where the plants receive morning sun, but a bit of shade in the afternoons. Or, do what I do whenever I move to a new location (as I've done many times in my life), and try a few chia plants in different parts of your garden the first year.

      By the second year, you'll know which place is best for them. Good luck.

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      Phinco nz 16 months ago

      hi when is the best time (temperature wise ) to grow chia? Also do I plant in direct sun or do they prefer shade, Thanks

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      LongTimeMother 17 months ago from Australia

      Here's my answers to the recent batch of questions about how I grow and harvest organic chia seeds.

      1) Yes, Carla, you can start chia in a container. Perhaps you missed the photo of all the little chia plants I started in a large pot. (Under 'Chia Seedlings'.)

      2) BertieBeetle, you'll need to do your own research about that. I love growing my own chia plants, and knowing they're fresh and organic!

      3) Mary Coles, thanks for your kind words. As for propagating from cuttings, I've never tried it because chia is so easy to grow from seed. :)

      4) Carolina, I hope you figured out the answer to your question. (Computer problems prevented me from answering earlier, sorry.) I eat chia seed sprouts, but that includes eating the sprouting seed ~ so I don't cut them in the way you are suggesting. As I mentioned in this article, I use chia leaves to make tea. I've heard of others who use chia leaves in stir-fry meals but I grow so many vegetables in my garden, I'm never short of things to use in a stir-fry so I never think to add chia leaves.

      Thanks for your comments. I hope my answers are helpful.

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      Carla Figuereo 17 months ago

      I wanna grow chia seeds but the birds in my area eat them all. Can I start the chia in a container first?

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      Bertiebeetle 17 months ago

      Is it true that chia needs to be grown in latitudes less than 20 degrees to maximise the Omega 3 benefits of the plant??

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      Mary Coles 18 months ago

      Absolutely fantastic article! Thank you very much. It has been a great help to me. I have grown 10 plants from seedlings in the Hunter Valley and they are just starting to flower. As chia is a Salvia they also should be pretty easy to propagate from cuttings.

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      Carolina Castro 18 months ago

      Hi, I have chia seeds sprouts and I would like to use them in salads. Where should I cut them and would they comeback for me to continue harvesting them? Also, when the sprouts become plants, can I eat the leaves?

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      LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia

      Hello, Phebe. There's about 200 comments at the end of this article, so you'll find lots more info about growing chia included in my answers. You'll notice I live in Australia where we don't use 'zones' like you do in the US. As for your other questions, it really is a matter of common sense. The reason why people start growing any plant indoors is to get a head start before the natural growing season begins. So, yes, you'd need to wait until after the last frost to transplant.

      One of the numbered points in my article says, 'Add mulch and compost and anything you like to make your garden healthier as your plants grow, but put it on top and let it feed the soil from above.' So it really is up to individual gardeners to use what works best for them.

      'Hot' compost is not something I'd be likely to add to any seedlings or small plants. Occasionally plants of various types germinate in compost heaps, but even they need to be moved away. Unless the compost heap is nicely decaying and you're planning on starting a new compost heap elsewhere. Although, to be honest, 'hot' compost won't stay hot when it is spread thinly around any plants in the garden.

      Again, common sense must be used when deciding whether or not to take anything from a compost heap that hasn't had time to properly break down. If you have weeds in your compost, you won't want weed seeds germinating and competing with your chia. All in all, chia is easy to plant and harvest, so give it a try. By the end of your first growing season you'll know whether or not you live in an appropriate zone.

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      Phebe 18 months ago

      I voted for "I still have unanswered questions" and those are: What zone are you planting these in? If you have frost, do you need to wait until the last frost to transplant (if you started indoors)? With the compost, are they ok with "hot" compost or piles that have aged a few months? I'll browse through the comments to see if there's anything similar, but those are the two main questions I would like to be able to find without digging.

      Otherwise, thank you so much for this article! I was surprised and pleased to see that it seems quite easy to plant and harvest and I definitely want to give it a try.

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      LongTimeMother 18 months ago from Australia

      Southwestern Pennsylvania is a world away from my garden in Australia. If you have a month until your last frosts, HOGF, I suggest you start growing seedlings in pots. Give yourself a head-start instead of waiting to plant seeds directly in the soil.

      Regarding the cold hardiness of chia, it is not a plant that I'd consider particularly cold hardy. Yes, a mature chia plant can survive a period of cold weather. But a week of harsh frosts will definitely kill it. Personally I would never consider planting large quantities of chia in a frost-prone region. I would, however, plant at least a dozen chia plants in different places on the property for one year ... and see how they respond to different microclimates. Plants sheltered may perform well.

      Of course, I'd also grow a couple of my chia plants in really big pots that could be moved into a greenhouse or even indoors if necessary at the first hint of frosts. It would be dreadful to watch plants growing beautifully, only to lose them all before harvesting any seeds at all.

      How long does chia typically take to reach maturity? That's a bit like asking how long tomatoes take to reach maturity. In some regions, the process seems much faster than others. And a lot will depend on your soil and water supply etc, as well as how long your days are and how much sun the plants receive.

      Claudine in the Philippines (another commenter here) has chia plants 4 feet tall after 2 months. But I'm sure many growers in other places would love to have that level of quick growth. I can't predict how long it would take for chia to reach maturity in Pennsylvania, but I'd be very interested to hear how your chia copes in your local climate. So please come back and let us all know if you have success. Good luck.