Remember the spirited commercial, “There's a new pet - Ch Ch ChChia! TheChia Pet, the pottery that grows?” This was one of the catchy jingles in the 1980s for something called theChia Pet: which are terracotta figurines that growchia sprouts to resemble an animal's hair or fur.
This commercial recently came to mind when I was sprinkling chia seeds on my salad for some extra crunch and health benefits. These seeds bring a tangy taste to salads, soups, dips, sandwiches and whatever else you pull out for a meal. I usually purchase organic chia seeds at the local grocery store, but the Master Gardener spirit in me triggered a wonder on whether I should just try to grow and harvest these seeds on my own.
So, time again to do a little research and see what I can learn…
I discovered that the plant that produces chia seeds is the Salvia hispanica, native to Guatemala and Mexico. The more commonly used names for this plant is the “Chia”, “Mexican Chia” and the “Salvia Chia”. The plant is a very attractive type of Salvia from the mint family (Lamiaceae), with purple and white flowers that cluster in a spike at the end of each stem, as seen in the photo below.
The good news is that it thrives in our zone 9 – 12, so I can consider this plant for my garden! I learned that it is low maintenance and is drought tolerant. Plus, the chia flowers attract many of our essential pollinators, such as bees and hummingbirds.
On the downside you need quite a large space to grow many plants to harvest the number of seeds that match my usual salad-snacking pattern. I think I will stick to my local grocer as a supply source for a chia seed fix.
Nevertheless, I am inspired to add at least one Salvia hispanica, a chia plant, to my existing Salvia Garden. I am also going to see if I can still find a chia pet just for old times' sake.
Ch Ch Ch Chia!
Chia Bart - Stephanie
Chia Seeds - Paula Pashby