How to Process and Cook with Homegrown Buckwheat


homegrown buckwheat groats

 Homegrown buckwheat groats
Photo by Mari Stuart

Homegrown buckwheat is a fantastic grain to grow on a small scale. Many gardeners grow buckwheat as a cover crop, but don’t end up harvesting and using the groats. But since you’ve gone through the trouble of growing it, you might as well eat it, too! The sweet, nutty kernels have a favorable nutrient profile, forming a complete protein. Buckwheat is also gluten-free, making it a great alternative grain to use in breads, muffins, and pancakes – or on its own as a cooked grain.

(Technically, buckwheat is not a grain but a seed, or a pseudo-grain, like amaranth or quinoa. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll refer to it as grain.)

Growing Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a remarkably resilient plant. It grows well even in soils that are low in fertility, and requires minimal irrigation. It has few disease or bug problems, attracts beneficial pollinators – and of course, it’s an excellent green manure crop in addition to being edible.

However, you want to time the planting right. Buckwheat prefers cool temperatures, but is frost-tender. That makes it somewhat tricky to figure out an optimal time window for planting buckwheat, which has a sow-to-harvest time of 10-15 weeks. In Northeastern United States, a good time to sow might be in mid-summer. I garden in Zone 7a, in Southern Appalachia, and here the best time to plant buckwheat is around mid-August. The buckwheat gets to grow during the cooler fall weeks, but can still be harvested before the first frost, which here comes in late October.

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