The Results of My Great Wheat Growing Experiment

| 8/23/2010 11:02:01 AM

Tags: organic, gardening, wheat, energy, Cam Mather,

By Cam Mather

We focus a big part of our diet on wheat-related products, like breads and pastas. In fact I could be a bread-a-tarian. I love bread. Thank goodness that whole “low carb diet” fad blew over when the originator died of a heart attack, because I watched it unfold while stuffing myself with veggies, bread at every meal, pasta, cookies, crackers, and every carb I could get my hands on and I haven’t gained a pound in 10 years.

So this year I decided to take it to the next level, and put my money where my carb-devouring mouth was and grow my own wheat. How hard could it be? In “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook” I suggest that one of the neat things about vegetable gardening is that every year you can try something new. A few years ago we tried growing peanuts, last year we grew sweet potatoes and this year it was time to try some wheat. I had grown oats before and they were easy.

I grew winter wheat, and so I broadcast-seeded by hand last fall. I spread the seeds over an area of about 25 ft. x 35 ft. or about 900 square feet. In the photo the light green area behind where Michelle is cutting garlic scapes is the wheat patch. I garden organically so by the spring there were weeds in it. I tried to eradicate them by leaning in where I could or treading carefully, but eventually I ended up with a fairly high number of weeds.

Just after I finished harvesting all of my garlic, around the third week of July, I started harvesting the wheat. At first I attempted to cut it with a hand sickle which I must not have sharpened properly because it did not cut well. I don’t have a scythe because of my “don’t spend any money, work with what you have” mantra, and so the best tool I had was a good set of garden clippers. They worked well as long as I cut on my knees which was okay since I have my fabulous new gardening pants with the knee pads built in.

Cam Mather
9/8/2010 12:44:43 PM

Thanks. I'll look for an older variety this fall. And we have a food processor so I'll try that too! Thanks. Cam

Sarah Hill
9/3/2010 8:03:19 PM

I don't know what variety you grew; but the properties of many modern varieies, which make them ideal for mechanised operations make them a real pain to thresh by hand. If you plan to grow wheat again, you might want to look at older varieties, and do some research on their properties. the downside is that easier hand threshing can equal greater seed loss in harvest. Although I noted you said you harvested a little too late, I dfidn't spot how long and in what manner you left the wheat to cure - curing can have quite an impact on how well it threshes. A food processor can be ued to grind small amounts of wheat - enough to make a loaf or two at a time.

christina rottinger
9/1/2010 8:11:31 AM

Please post next year's wheat adventure- would be very interested in what improvements you come up with and whatever you run into along the way! Thanks for the update- was looking forward to it.

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