This grain has been cultivated for 8,000 years, and was first grown by the Aztecs. Rich in complete protein, vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A,K and C. A good source of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. The health benefits with regular use include a good assist for high blood pressure, regulation of cholesterol, provides antioxidants and strengthens the immune system. Cooking takes a few minutes when boiled, can be popped, toasted or ground into flour. It is used as cereal added to casseroles, makes an excellent addition to the forming of bean burgers . Truly a mainstay of vegetarian diets. The flavour is mildly sweet and nutty. The young leaves of most varieties are very edible and make a colourful salad addition.
This warm season crop can be direct seeded once the soil has warmed up, usually by late May, in northern climates. The usual date to maturity is 100 days. It can also be started early in small pots to be transplanted easily once the temperatures are warm at night. Birds love this seed, so this becomes a foolproof method. Cover seed 1/4 inch deep.
The seed heads are mature when they show seed on the surface of the flower heads. If wet weather is eminent in the fall, cut down the flower heads, and hang them to dry further. Be sure to place a drop sheet under them to catch the seed. To extract the seed from the dried heads, gently roll them over screens or mesh. Place these over a wheelbarrow with a bag inside to catch the seed. Dry further on trays, the chaff easily blows off at this stage, by winnowing , or by using a cool setting on a hair dryer with a bucket or deep tray holding the seed.
Seed packets hold a 1/8 teaspoon of seed.
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