Chia seeds have a long history dating back through Aztec times. Indigenous to North America, chia seeds have been used for food as well as for medicine and even in landscaping. Many people will have heard of the Chia Pets which consisted of a terracotta sculpture and the seeds sprouted to become fur or hair over the terracotta figure. Bizarrely this practice helped to bring chia seeds and their many benefits to the fore.
Chia seeds have become more known for their use in food and the seeds are packed full of nutrients including omega 3 which can be lacking in some diets including those on a vegetarian diet but chias are also used for medicinal purposes, for use in a poultice and for treating fevers.
The seeds are extremely hardy and thrive even in areas like Arizona, Nevada, and Utah which are low moisture areas. If you are planning to grow your own chia seeds, take care to not over water them as they prefer dryer soil.
Planting chia seeds is simple as they don’t need a lot of care and attention. Simply prepare the soil and scatter the seeds over the soil, raking in lightly. Light porous soil is good to start with but they should then be planted in an area that has a lot of sunlight. Cultivators in history found that after harvest, burning the plant produced better results. The following crop became much more plentiful.
Chia seeds are self sewing so they produce a new crop easily. But research is underway to introduce a new crop which will encourage plant diversity. This process of growing chia plants outside of its normal area is still very much in the experimental stage. The research has looked into summer and winter types. As much as chia plants have long been cultivated, there is still a great deal not known about them. For example, chia seeds can survive some very low winter temperatures.
If you are thinking about growing your own chia seeds, you may find that some of your planting processes will be more instinctive rather than following a set plan even though researchers are starting to develop some guidelines to help with growing in the future.
Depending on how much room you have for planting, you need to choose a medium where you will grow the seeds. You can use a baby blanket, which is actually a product that can be purchased in garden centres, or you could use a moisture retaining cloth, a seed tray or even hemp bag. You can even grow the seeds on a tray but moisten the chosen medium thoroughly but do not leave any standing water, drain off the water.
If planting outside in a larger area of land, you can pretty much just scatter and rake in, but for more controlled smaller areas, you can spread the chia seeds out with your finger, or use a gardening knife. Chia seeds are small but it’s important to spread them as much as possible so that they have complete room to grow. You can cover them over with another tray and keep dark but it really is not necessary.
Chia seeds form a gelatinous substance when water is added prior to sprouting and this actually means that you can’t just plant and water chias like you would with any other plant. If you would like a ready abundance of chia seeds or would like to use the plant for medicinal purposes, then it is a great idea to try and grow your own. Importantly, you know that the seeds are pure of chemicals and packed full of nutritious goodness and there can be nothing quite so satisfying as growing your own plants and cultivating them.