Salba, also known as chia or Salvia hispanica, originated in South America and is related to mint and sage. Salba seeds are high in protein and rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The seeds may be eaten raw, mixed into baked goods, sprouted or soaked in water to produce a thick gel that can replace eggs in some recipes. Salba seeds can be sprouted indoors as a micro-green in any climate, and gardeners in warm, dry climates can grow salba outside to harvest the seeds.
Moisten a piece of burlap, hemp or cheesecloth. The cloth should be damp but not dripping. Lay the cloth in a pan or tray or on a plate.
Spread salba seeds over the cloth. Use approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons of salba seeds for a every 25 square inches of surface area. Cover the salba seeds with another piece of damp cloth.
Place the tray in a warm location (around 65 to 70 Fahrenheit) away from direct sunlight.
Keep the cloth moist by spritzing it down with a mist bottle once a day. Do not allow water to puddle in the tray.
Move the tray into the sunshine once the seeds have sprouted and have begun to poke through the top layer of fabric. This usually happens after two to four days. Salba seeds need to be watered more frequently once they are moved into the sun.
Harvest the salba sprouts with scissors once the sprouts have turned green and have developed their first pair of leaves, two to four days after moving them into the sun.
Growing Salba for Seeds
Prepare a garden bed by removing weeds and aerating the soil. Salba likes well-drained soil and lots of sun. Plant salba in the late spring, after the ground has warmed up.
Sow the seeds by dropping two salba seeds every 6 inches. Cover thinly with soil and gently water.
Thin to one plant every 12 inches once they have sprouted and are established.
Water salba only when the leaves look wilted or the weather has been very dry. Salba naturally grows in the desert and needs very little water.
Harvest the seeds after the flowers have faded. Remove seed heads and brush the seeds loose with your fingers, or shake the heads inside of a paper bag.
About this Author
Sonya Welter graduated cum laude from Northland College in 2002, and has worked in the natural foods industry for nearly seven years. As a freelance writer, she specializes in food, health, nature, gardening and green living. She has been published on Ecovian.com, LIVESTRONG.com and several local print publications in Duluth, Minn.