Some time ago, I harvested my first crop of chia. All well and good, although it took longer than I expected, about nine months from go to whoa. Lesson: plant early, as soon as there’s no frost. And if you live in a frost-ridden climate, chia is probably not for you.
If you can grow tomatoes you can probably grow chia, treat ‘em similarly – down to staking them and tying them up. Like tomatoes, the stalks get dry and brittle long before you’ll be ready to harvest. Although they’re meant to be an arid climate plant, they want plenty of water (again: just like tomatoes).
However, you’ll want to plant your chia earlier than tomatoes, because they take longer to mature.
Anyway, like everything in life, the problem occurs deep into the process. Here are my dried chia seeds still on the stem. I expect it took me 50 hours to separate the chaff from the seeds. There must be a machine, a small scale thresher – but I don’t even know what it’s called. I’ll tell you now, having several gauges of strainer will only get you so far. And then there’s the old school ‘blow across the top of the mess, and the chaff will blow off’ theory. Nope. These seeds are light and small.
So I painstakingly sorted them with a knife on my kitchen bench. At least I understand why chia is so expensive…. except I’m sure the big boys have a better way. Just not me and my backyard.
Anyway, I have a fine second crop well on the way to maturing now. Only three more seasons before I can call them organic! And after that, panning for gold. I’ll be able to use my strainers for that, too. There’s a certain creek I have in mind.