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very small scale ..for home eating..grain planting and protein production

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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I hope to plant 5 grains for home use this year..in a small scale..and would like input on anyone who has done this. I have heard that some of the seeds I ordered MAY be sold out so it might not work out for this year on some..but the ones I've sent orders in on are amaranth grain d'or, hulless oats, hulless barley, red winter wheat and grain rye, also OP corn but that will be mostly to eat fresh and frozen rather than for grain.

I have to increase the amount of protein foods that we harvest here to be more sustainable and I do end up buying some of these products on a regular basis (esp the oats and rye and wheat) so hopefully this will free us up somewhat from the need to buy those items..also will have to save some seed for replanting.

I have also planned a few other higher protein products to plant this year such as soy and some other beans, etc.

Also was given a waterfall, filter combination for my pond with a bubbler also, and hope to attach those to my pond to see about putting in some fish as a protein source, we are big fish eaters here...and hubby loves to fish but seldom is able to now with his head injury.

Also putting in some higher protein garden crops and hopefully some of my various nut trees may begin to bear this year, probably at least a few hazelnuts.

have been reading up on these things but appreciate input..thanks
 
John Polk
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I haven't raised grains yet myself, but found an interesting read on small scale operations:

http://www.permaculture-media-download.com/2011/02/small-scale-grain-raising-organic-guide.html

The link provides 2 complete chapters (1. Home grown grains, and 7. Rye and Barley).
 
Jordan Lowery
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i have been moving towards growing grains along with my veggies for the past few years. this past season i had an amazing crop of amaranth, which is pretty much care free to grow as long as your ground has some moisture.

one tip i have found to be incredibly valuable are seedballs. you can just toss grains out, and some will grow. but if you seedball them first and then toss them out, almost all of them will grow. and seedball started grains are very hardy.

i am developing a system similar to fukuoka where i replace all the crappy weeds and such around here from past disturbances with wheat or barley.

also i am just tossing the wheat seedballs out in my veggie garden, you just scatter so they are not as dense and forget about them. come summer they will start drying out and you start harvesting the ripe ones as they ripen sort of like tomatoes. chances are youll be out there harvesting something at least a few times a week in the summer. i carry a big basket and last year ended up with a lot of wheat with very little effort and i got food from the same area. when i cut off the wheat tops i re cut them at the base and used the stalks as mulch on spot.

if you want to seed large areas you will need a seedball machine to make them fast enough to be worth it.
 
Alan Cain
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I am new here and have not had time to survey the threads, so whatever I add may well be redundant, ignorant or silly. Please be gentle...

Do you have a plan for separating your grains from chaff?

I am curious as to your harvest plan; I found this forum while looking for small threshers. Most of the schemes I have found date from 2005 or earlier, and tend to involve expensive imports of devices from India and China. I would prefer some other tactic, involving less diesel fuel and less money. I do have a small old (30 years) Yanmar diesel tractor with a PTO, but it uses a lot less diesel than a freighter.

Plainly I am growing small grain crops as well this year; by hand will be my technique this year but I have an idea for a slanted barrel device using spinning chains in similar fashion to the plastic bucket with an electric drill. I think it will allow me to do a continuous feeding of grain in the heads with a fair speed. Goals: cheap, effective, using recycled parts and safe. What do others here do?

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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the hulless seeds (oats and barley) are pretty simple to hull from what I'm reading, the rye and whate will be a little more difficult but I'll probably just do it by hand..as for grinding I have a vitamix as well as 2 blenders..the vitamix is great for a finer flour and it gets it quite warm, so if you grind it just before mixing for bread it will go from frozen grain to warm grain quickly so it will help the rise.

I have ground my own grain for bread in the vitamix..just not grown it myself.

I have grown amaranth in the past as well as some other very small grain crops and seeds, but this will be a slightly bit larger, but only really starting small just for household use..not like acres..
 
Brenda Groth
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Loved those links..found this information very very helpful

A bushel of wheat makes about fifty 1-pound loaves of bread. Two ears of corn make enough cornmeal for a meal's worth of corn muffins. The grain expands as it cooks with water, and so gives more food to eat than you would think the uncooked grain represented.

At most, figure a year's supply of wheat at 4 pecks (1 bushel); corn, 2 pecks; popcorn, 2 pecks; soybeans, 4 pecks; grain sorghum, 2 pecks; buckwheat, 1 peck; oats, 1 peck; triticale or rye or barley, 1 peck; navy or other soup beans, 2 pecks; alfalfa for sprouting, 1 or 2 quarts; lentils, field peas, cane sorghum (for flour), about 2 quarts each. But only experience can give you the precise annual amounts needed. We don't grow and eat as much as suggested here, but could if we wished, without increasing our production labor noticeably. Of course you can gauge your own family's consumption by estimating how much flour, cornmeal, and other grain products you use now. But your own grains may prove so delicious that you will want more than that.


Figuring Space Requirements
You don't need much space to raise at least some grains. A normal yield of wheat grown organically would be at least 40 bushels to the acre. So you'd need only 1/40th of an acre to produce a bushel. That would be a plot of ground 10 feet wide by about 109 feet long. A really good wheat grower with a little luck could get a bushel from a plot half that size. Wheat yields have been recorded as high as 80 bushels per acre and even higher.

But using the same kind of average calculations as above, the table below shows the amount of space you'd need to grow a bushel of the following grains.



Growing Grain by the Bushelfield corn: 10 feet by 50 feet
sweet corn: 10 feet by 80 feet
popcorn*: 10 feet by 80 feet
oats: 10 feet by 62 feet
barley: 10 feet by 87 feet
rye: 10 feet by 145 feet
buckwheat: 10 feet by 130 feet
grain sorghum: 10 feet by 60 feet
wheat: 10 feet by 109 feet
* for the larger-eared varieties; I don't know per-acre yields for the smaller varieties, like strawberry popcorn.


Don't hold me too tightly to these figures. They're estimates to give you an idea of how big the playing field is. Weather, fertility, variety, and know-how could alter these figures. All I'm trying to show really is that 9 bushels of assorted grains might be raised on a quarter of an acre and provide you with the major portion of your diet.

 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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I watched an interview with Joseph Holzer the other day and he was talking about their rye about half way through:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P81ZLODRQo

They sow the seed, and then do not harvest it in the first season, but in the second season instead. In the first season they only mow it.

This apparently increases overall yield, and reduces weed issues because the rye is denser, and generally healthier (maybe because it's a more mature plant?).

It would be very interesting to try this. With 2 small plots, you could have a grain harvest every year.

 
Clara Florence
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As far as threshing goes you could research whats being used in developing nations, or what was used before the industrial revolution. You may find a modern or antique handcrank machine thats inexpensive to own and run. Grain was harvested well before engines were available and I'm sure people invented reasonably efficent methods for processing grain in bulk.
 
Adam Klaus
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you can threash grains, one sheaf at a time, with the chipper from an apple press. it works well for the purpose. I discovered this from a picture in the One Straw Revolution by Fukuoka, it shows a nearly identical device.
I must humbly say though that the entire process of sheaving, threashing, winnowning, and cleaning, is not easy. This is skilled work, the skilled work of our ancestors that I have long ago ceased to know. It will take a few iterations of practice to get the entire process to succeed. I have worked with red winter wheat and hullless oats so far. Larger seeded grains would be easier I think, than something small. Though quinoa is quite easy and doesnt require such a device.
From my experience, it seems that keys include well dried grain, evenly assembled sheaves, proper airflow rate for winnowing, and a set of graduated screens for cleaning.
It is simple, like zen. Simple, not easy. Oh to have an old grandmother who would chuckle at my contemporary ignorance, and show me the way with ease....
Good luck! It will be a joy and a triumph one day.
 
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