Salvia hispanica is better known in the United States as chia, the sprouting green hair of the ever popular chia pet. This small seed, which becomes covered with a gelatinous coating when soaked in water, has been used by natives of Mesoamerica for centuries for its nutritive properties. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to endure heat and exertion, and Tarahumara runners consumed them for stamina. Modern scientists have found that chia seeds contain important omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients important to health. Chia is a bushy desert annual, that grows to 4 feet tall. It can be grown and harvested for its seeds in all parts of the United States with growing seasons as long as 120 days or more.
Soak the chia seeds overnight in a bowl filled with warm tap water so that they become coated with a clear gelatinous substance.
Fill 4-inch pots with well-draining potting soil. Gently press the soil into place. Make a 1/8th-inch deep hole near each of the four corners of each pot using the end of a chopstick.
Collect a few chia seeds using a spoon. Drop one to three seeds in each hole. Cover the seeds by sprinkling the pots with additional fine potting soil, firming gently by hand. Water the pots with a fine spray until water runs out of the bottom of the pot.
Place the pots in a warm place away from drafts, in filtered sunlight, and keep the soil surface evenly moist until the seeds sprout.
Move the tender sprouts gradually into more light when they are about 2 inches high. Feed them with balanced liquid plant food diluted to half strength.
Transplant the chia seedlings when they are 4 to 6 inches tall into a place in the garden with well-draining, loamy soil, in full sun. Irrigate them weekly, or as necessary, to keep the soil moderately moist.