Chia (Salvia hispanica) plants are annual herbs that have been used for centuries as a food source for native North American people. Chia seeds were roasted and ground. Water and sugar was added to the chia meal to create a type of porridge. Today, chia seeds are used in sauces as a thickening agent. The seed's oil is used in cooking and acts as a preservative gloss on paintings. The oil is clear and does not turn yellow as it ages. Chia sprouts are eaten raw in sandwiches and salads.
Soak a piece of cheesecloth, baby blanket, burlap bag, paper towel or coconut coir in water for 10 minutes or until it is thoroughly wet. Chia seeds grow on any medium that holds moisture.
Place the growing medium in a tray or dish to catch the water runoff. Sprinkle the chia seeds evenly across the surface. Make sure they are not touching or overlapping.
Spray the chia seeds with water and cover with a piece of plastic. This creates a mini-greenhouse and preserves moisture. Support the plastic with toothpicks so the plastic does not touch the seeds.
Place the chia seeds in an area with low light and temperatures of 21.1 degrees C. Mist with water each day until the seeds sprout in three to five days. When the chia seeds loose their hulls remove the plastic.
Move the chia seeds to a sunny location. Water the growing medium from the side so you do not damage the tiny plants. Keep the growing medium moist, but not dripping wet.
Cut the chia sprouts just above the growing medium with a sharp pair of shears. The chia plants are ready for harvest once the leaves are fully open and have turned green.
One to 2 tbsp of chia seeds will fill a 5-inch tray. It takes 1/3 to 1/2 cup of seeds for a square 11-inch tray. To fill a larger tray, 11- by 22-inches, use 2/3 to 1 cup of chia seeds.
Do not soak the chia seeds before planting. Soaking the seeds work only when you are sticking the seeds on to clay surfaces. Chia seeds produce the most mucilage when wet and become impossible to handle.