Saturday, June 26, 2010

Test Plots

Small-Scale Grain Raising, Second Edition: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains, for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers
Last year Ed read Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon from the library. He had been interested in growing some grain before but this book gave some tools to make the idea less of a dream and more reality! Last summer Ed converted part of our pasture into four test plots. The idea is to experiment with grain raising and any other ideas that we come up with that we just can't fit into our garden.

I recently realized that I've never posted any pictures of these little plots. Of course, we don't know what we are doing or if it will work. But I like to read about other gardener's goals, plans, and ideas - whether they work or not!

Last fall, we planted some buck wheat to help clear the weeds and thistles.

This spring, we found that some of the things we wanted to plant (like wheat) needed to wait until fall. So most of these plots are actually extending our garden then growing grain!
The first plot has Rainbow Inca corn. We had planted a little of this last year, dried the corn, roasted, and ground it into wonderful cornmeal. This plot was planted with seed saved from last year. Hope it didn't cross pollinate and come up something strange!

The second plot is planted with naked oats. These are oats that are hulless. They are supposed to be the homesteader's dream. The oats did not come up well but they have filled in and shaded out the weeds well.
It is a beautiful patch but we still have a lot to work out. How to harvest? (Ed bought a scythe at a yard sale.) How to roll the oats into useable oatmeal without buying an expensive machine? Let me know if you have any hints for us!
This patch is our Three Sisters Garden. Three Sisters is what the Indians called their garden method of planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn and beans are planted in hills with squash between the hills.

The three crops are to benefit each other. The corn supplying a trellis for the beans, the beans giving nitrogen to the corn and the squash shading out the weeds.

We've had critter problems in this patch. It is too far away from the house for me to keep the rabbits chased out. I've planted the beans and corn three times, so some plants are large and other hills are just beginning. Most of the beans have disappeared. I'll probably have horrible germination. But I mainly did this patch just for fun with the children. Hopefully we'll at least get a few pumpkins.
The fourth patch is things that I never plant because I run out of garden space- lima beans (a favorite for the rabbits) sunflowers, and popcorn.

In the fall, we hope to plant rye and wheat. I'll try to remember to keep you posted. And if you have any hints on grain raising - please help us out!

Linked to Garden Party.


  1. Those plots look great and a fun place for the kids to go exploring. I have no idea what to suggest on the harvest and it looks daunting indeed.

    We're (can't you believe it) planting our veggie garden today. With the torential rainfalls we had this spring it became impossible to plant. Now we plant in 100 degree weather :( We're doing it just for fun with the kids and I'll let you know how it goes :)

  2. Thanks for posting those pictures. I'll be intereted in following the progress, especially of the grains. I've given some thought in the last year to trying to supplement the chicken's winter feed by growing some of our own grains, but haven't done it yet. (anything to help keep the winter feed bill down). Lima beans? YUM!

  3. Sarah - Best wishes on your garden - and you can send some rain our way!

    Teri - If we can't figure out how to make our oats into something fit for human consumption - they may become chicken feed!


  4. Logsdon has inspired us to (attempt to) grow wheat and possibly oats next year. We'll be working on a plot this fall. For now, we planted the only grain we had room for--a little row of strawberry popcorn. I wish we'd read the book earlier so we had know to leave more space for all of the different crops that we want to trial. It's so nice to see what other gardeners are doing with grain!

    I got lucky and found a Schnitzer cereal flaker for $5 at the thrift store. I didn't even know what it was at the time, but it looked useful!

  5. Megan- What a great deal! Maybe I should start searching Craig's List for something similar!

  6. Gina,

    I enjoyed looking at the pictures of your garden. I, too, love to experiment and learn. Hope you are successful with your grains.

    Followed you here from TGP

  7. I am looking forward to watching your three sisters grow. I can relate to reseeding... I just re-seeded the corn 4 plants in 4 rows just wasn't going to be enough:) This time I covered the rows with some garden cloth. I see they have geminated but will wait until they are about an inch high before I remove it.

    I just read an article about wheat growing and harvesting for the home grower in Mother Earth News. It made it all sound sooo easy;)

  8. Welcome to the Tuesday Garden Party, Gina- I'm glad you found us! You've got a lot of things I'm interested and and will be watching. :-) I'm going to subscribe, too, so I don't miss other soon as I have a minute I'm going to be looking through your bread files! Thanks for sharing.


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