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Novie question - grains  RSS feed

 
Hans Zork
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Hi all,

I'm 100% new to gardening, permaculture, agriculture and all that, looking for something to do with my life that makes sense and where I can spend time outside.

My question is: Since grains are basically the basis of human nutrition in most places, certainly in Western countries, how does this work in permaculture? The impression of permaculture that I have is that different plants grow together, not separated. So I wonder, doesn't that make harvesting grain really difficult?

If my question is not clear / doesn't make (much) sense, please let me know.

Best,
Hans
 
wayne stephen
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Hello Hans , Have you checked out Masanoba Fukuoka ? He developed a sustainable system for growing rice without tilling , mechanization , or fertilizer. Also , converting a standing orchard to food forest. You will find a broad range of approaches to grain on this forum. Incorporating grain or other forage for chickens into perennial systems , the paleo no-grain approach , there is info on perennial wheats . Keep looking through the older forums and asking questions . There are alot of dodgy folks on this site wiling to share their experiences. Welcome.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Howdy Hans, Welcome to Permies! You can check out how sepp holzer grows grains also.
 
John Polk
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I believe that cereals/grains actually are good permaculture crops.

The key is to start with heritage varieties. BigAg has abandoned them, as 'non-profitable' within their systems.
BigAg favors varieties that are planted a few inches (3-5cm) apart for easier machine harvest.

Most of the heritage breeds, besides being more nutritious and tastier, are much more likely to 'tiller' (send out multiple shoots), and less likely to 'lodge' (fall over). Individual seeds can be planted about 3 feet (1m) apart. Each seed will send out a dozen or two stalks, each with a seed head. More like a bush than a blade of grass.

This would be easily harvested in a polyculture environment - more so when you consider that not all plants reach maturity on the same day. BigAg takes it all at once - mature, immature, and over ripe " - when most of it is ripe". You would actually get a better end product by cutting only the mature heads, over a week's time. Imagine what the product in the stores is, considering that probably 20% is immature, and 20% is over ripe.

A side benefit of the heritage varieties is that most of them are either gluten free, or low gluten.

 
Hans Zork
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Thank you all so much for your replies! This is really encouraging... I can't wait to get started with my own little gardening project.

Speaking of staple foods, I wonder if permaculture makes it possible to grow yams and sweet potatoes in temperate areas? I love eating those, unfortunately, in Germany they are only available as import goods. I guess I should ask that question in the local section of the forum once it's imminent, but I'm interested if there might be first hints here.
 
Gemma Buell
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This is great information! I had no idea that grains grew this way and would fit in a food forest! Very excited to learn this! Not that there aren't many veggies that can be made into flour but I was going to miss grain flour and now I don't have to.

 
Leila Rich
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This is a bit off-topic, but...
my place is really too small to grow cereals effectively, and I don't eat much grain.
I suggest taking a good look at a variety of storage crops as well as grains.
I grow a lot of runner beans which are perennial, drought tolerant, and prefer temperate climates.
I eat the green beans fresh and lacto-fermented, and leave the rest on the vine for dried beans.
I've grown sweet potato before, but it's really not warm enough here. Potatoes are an important part of my diet though.
 
Tom Jonas
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Hi Hans, by all means grow grains! You don't have to have a huge field of them, just a bit here and there to enjoy. Even here, in Alaska, most grains can be grown. You should have no problem . Small patches interspersed with your other plantings will add diversity to your area. Your climate and soil will determine which grains are best for you. I also agree with others that an heirloom type seed stock is indicated here. We grow sweet potatoes here as well, one needs to start the plants indoors, then move them out when conditions warrant it. You can do it and have fun! Regards from Houston, Alaska. - Tom and Vania
 
Hans Zork
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Hi Leila,
I don't think your comment is OT at all. Beans would also be great as an additional staple food for, I think, though I would prefer the starchier ones. I do eat a lot of lentils, peas and chickpeas.
 
Hans Zork
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Hi Tom and Vania, sweet potatoes in Alaska?? That's really encouraging! Do you harvest them and store some for planting again next summer?
 
Leila Rich
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Hans Zork wrote:Beans would also be great as an additional staple food [...] though I would prefer the starchier ones

My dried runner beans are pretty starchy They're also a good protein source, which I think is really valuable.
 
Tom Jonas
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Hi Hans, we don't eat a lot of sweet potatoes, so we don't grow too much. When we need to plant, we just buy some from the store and keep them until the "eyes" appear. However, we do plant many different potato varieties that we keep fresh and to dehydrate. Sweet potatoes keep well here, so maybe we will plant more of them this year and dehydrate the surplus, or eat more tempura with our sushi(salmon is just a short drive from here in the spring-fall period)! Also, like some previous posters do, we grow beans as well. Good for starch and the protein as well. Bean flour is an excellent addition to bread, tortillas, chapatis, etc. Flax is also an excellent augmentation for grain products as well( it really flavors puff pastry and standard pastry as well). I hope this info helps. As always, greatest regards from Houston, Alaska. -Tom and Vania
 
Hans Zork
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Leila Rich wrote:My dried runner beans are pretty starchy They're also a good protein source, which I think is really valuable.


Oh, I just googled. I had never seen them in their mature form. Beautiful!
 
Hans Zork
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Tom Jonas wrote:Hi Hans, we don't eat a lot of sweet potatoes, so we don't grow too much. When we need to plant, we just buy some from the store and keep them until the "eyes" appear. However, we do plant many different potato varieties that we keep fresh and to dehydrate. Sweet potatoes keep well here, so maybe we will plant more of them this year and dehydrate the surplus, or eat more tempura with our sushi(salmon is just a short drive from here in the spring-fall period)! Also, like some previous posters do, we grow beans as well. Good for starch and the protein as well. Bean flour is an excellent addition to bread, tortillas, chapatis, etc. Flax is also an excellent augmentation for grain products as well( it really flavors puff pastry and standard pastry as well). I hope this info helps. As always, greatest regards from Houston, Alaska. -Tom and Vania


Thanks for your explanations! If you can do it in Alaska, I should be able to do it here I'm jealous for that salmon, haha..
 
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