So, notes from the beginning:
Back in Spring I got a tiny packet of Organic seed from Seed Savers, I sowed it in modules in the polytunnel, think it was around early March.
They germinated well & I planted them out when they outgrew the modules.
Some went in a raised bed in the polytunnel -well manured, about 1 foot spacings. Once all frosts were passed, the others went out into a garden bed.
The Polytunnel crop grew well over 'summer', I gave them plenty of water & the occasional nettle/comfrey tea. They reached a height of about 6 ft by autumn displaying lovely abundant heads of seed!
The outside crop suffered an initial set back from a surprise chicken attack, leaving only about a 3rd of the original 5x1m bed. Thanks to the year that was in it they also recieved alot of heavy rain. And I also had them in a space which was fairly shady. I had them netted so I'm pretty sure the birds didn't take many but even so it was slim pickings. As far as I could determine, autumn came & went & they barely set any seed. So no joy there.
The polytunnel crop on the other hand having no chickens to deal with & a cosy warm & sheltered environment have cropped out at about 100g dried weight per plant. To get an idea of what that means, check a packet of quinoa in your kitchen/shop, Quinoa from the shop generally comes in 500g packets. So in this instance, I would need 5 plants in the polytunnel to get a packet full.
Unlike many grains such as oats for example, the quinoa seed, which is the grain part that we eat, doesn't grow in a husk, so it's relatively easy to harvest, I cut whole heads & left them on a cotton sheet on a wire mesh hanging in the tunnel. -Off the ground so the mice can't get them! Then rubbed them between my hands, & out come the seeds. What the seed does have though is a saponin (soapy) coating which is really bitter & needs to be washed off before eating. A combination of rinsing & changing the water during cooking does the trick. You'll tell by the colour of the water -the saponis turn it brown. When it runs clear it's more palatable.
From the little tiny experimental crop here in the polytunnel (about 15 plants) I'll have harvested 1.5 -2kg.
I'm pretty happy with that, I've saved some seed for next year, & I'll be trying it outdoors again too. I reckon if we had a bit more of a generous summer, no chickens, & a more sunny situation within the garden it might do ok. Also I believe there are loads of varieties of Quinoa so I'm also going to do a little research to see if maybe some other variety might be happier here. Comments welcome!