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Backyard Grain Growing  RSS feed

 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I've been tasked with making a 10 minute talk about "Backyard Grain Growing" at the Mountain West Seed Summit next weekend.

My family has been growing grain in my village for 156 years. At one time, my family's wheat was the most widely planted in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho, and I still grow that wheat today.  So I wonder if I am too close to the topic. I hope that you can help me step back from it a little.

What topics would you like to have covered in a talk about growing grain at home?



 
Marla Kacey
Posts: 130
Location: Wyoming Zone 4
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Wonderful topic!  What would I like to see covered?

1. Soil requirements
2. Water requirements
3. Length of growing season needed
4. Best planting times
5. Any wind protection needed?
6. How to plant. (Broadcast?  1/2 inch deep? Spacing?)

That's all I can think of at the moment, but I may edit later to add more.

Thank you for offering this opportunity, and best wishes with your talk ( not that you probably need them).
 
Ian Rule
Posts: 89
Location: Nevada County, CA
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This may not fit the talk as it probably entails less than a serious harvest, but how about guilding? Im about to throw down grain for my first year and Im hoping I dont need to have monoculture plots of flat land, so Im curious if there are other plants that might assist or perhaps to avoid. Do you alter the land beforehand or is uneven terrain manageable?  Do you have a purely grain field or do you grow it amidst the garden? Is soil disturbance (short of tillage) necessary?

I hope we get to pop a peek at that sweet slideshow, good luck!
 
David Livingston
steward
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How to prosess the grain simply to obtain a worthwhile product that does not cost too much in terms of time and equipment

David
 
Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I'd want to know about:
Which grain varieties are "ancient" and which are pre-hybridization. 
If there are different growing/harvesting/processing requirements for the older varieties.
How to efficiently plant a patch that is big enough to produce 100 lbs of finished grain.
How to efficiently thresh the grain (especially if it has a second hull).

It would be awesome if you could post a video of your presentation here  
 
Pam Sher
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Hi Joseph,

Awesome that your family's been doing that and you are continuing the tradition! Great responses to your question, too.

We are also, thanks to the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, encouraging backyard growing of grains by regular folks up here at 8300'-9200' in the Colorado Rockies. So my question for you is: where are you (approximately, so we can see how similar our growing situation might be to yours)? At what altitude are you? What is your climate and topography and how is it changing? What's worked over the years and what changes do you see in the present or foresee for the future? I would also add to your talk the ecosystem services that the crop provides, as these are significantly different from modern wheat. How can we access your talk, as we are unable to go to that conference?  Thank you!! Have a great time at that conference.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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This feedback is wonderful for me. So many ideas I wouldn't have thought to discuss. Thanks. Please keep them coming... I'll respond eventually to each of the questions here, probably not until after the conference though...
 
Maureen Atsali
pollinator
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Location: Western Kenya
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If I were attending such a lecture, I would want to know how much space I would have to allot to grains to make it worthwhile. (My farm is small). I would want to know about pest management.  (The wild birds completely wiped out my one attempt at growing millet) and I second what others said about effective threshing methods that don't require special equipment.  I might also ask about safe processing and storage to avoid molds and insect infestation.

I hope you'll post your video up. Would love to see it!  Good luck!
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Growing grain is easier than growing most veggies IF you can keep the mice and rats out (this would be my forst question).
I grow corn and amaranth and would like to grow buckwheat.
1. When to harvest, how to see if it is reasy + issues of shattering
2. Everythign post harvest how to do it on a household scale
 
Pam Sher
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We (my husband and I) have found Eli Rogosa's book Restoring Heritage GrainsRestoring Heritage Grains very useful. She mainly talks about einkorn. Gene Logsdon in  his book Small-Scale Grain RaisingSmall Scale Grain Raising recommends 1/6/acre for one bushel, but this is very rough--all depends on where you are. As we get more fluent with raising heritage/ancient grains, seeing which can naturalize without becoming weedy, I'm going to look into "guerrilla seeding" a la Bill Mollison in appropriate places. We have found raising buckwheat no problem except for deer, but again it all depends on
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local conditions.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Maureen Atsali wrote:If I were attending such a lecture, I would want to know how much space I would have to allot to grains to make it worthwhile.


Yes, how to grow the most grain in the smallest amount of space. 
 
Kai Duby
Posts: 71
Location: Colorado~ Front Range~ Zone 4/Wheaton Labs
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~I'd like to know what species are generally considered easy to grow and process in terms of low fertility, low water availability etc. I'd heard buckwheat was a no brainer but it floundered in the heat of the summer compared with fall sown rye. So side by side comparisons would be nice.

~ Along the lines of polyculture: catch crops for certain grains as well as rotation cropping.

~ Tall grains are useful beyond their food value so maybe include some things you can do with straw or corn stalks.

~ Are "naked" varieties worth it? They're easier to process but it seems animals feel the same way.

~ Any experience with seed balls?
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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So I've just completed planting the barley in in the second phase of my backyard barley experiment. This experiment began when I thought I'd trt growing barley actually IN my back yard (i.e. directly into the lawn).

Last year was the first phase - to see if barley would even germinate. The trick was to get the seed under the root mat, and allow the seedling to emerge through it. I did this by using a garden edger to slice through the root mat, and then used a tube place the seed 2 inches deep (like a manual seed drill). And it worked!

This phase is a bit of a grow out, with 90 square feet of planting directly into the lawn. I'm using a pre-industrial era barley that grows extensive root systems and tall straw. It has a very aggressive growing habit, and as a result, it is susceptible to lodging.
This phase I'm going to see how mowing it at the right time effects how it grows. Will it grow shorter and put more seed heads out? We shall see. I'm also interested to see how the actual lawn does with this over canopy. Will it die, and leave me with a no-till bed for growing next year, or will it carry on as if nothing happened? Again we shall see.

BTW, that grass isn't dead. It's been under snow for 6 months and is just starting to wake up.
Phase-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for Phase-2.jpg]
 
Simone Gar
Posts: 172
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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I have many questions about processing (how to do it with minimal effort etc.) but I'll post one about yields. I read:

Every 60-pound bushel of hard red spring can make about 45 loaves of bread. ($7/bushel 2014)
35 bushel/acre? (low, high yield 50+)


Does that come close? What about other grains like oats, spelt, rye?
I am only looking for home use so 45 loaves of bread sounds great!
 
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