Anyone growing grains on a smaller scale?

I’ve grown and harvested small scale grain in garden areas and I wondered if anyone else uses grains such as rye , corn, soybeans, or wheat in their rotations? Anyone considered sweet sorghum? I was curios if other people grow grains because I formerly did large scale dirt farming so I know all the positive things crops like that do for the soil. Pests do not like rye! If you have a problem garden rotate rye in the mix for a year and the problems dissapear. Soybeans fix nitrogen, corn stocks add a lot of organic material and alleviate nitrogen buildup from over fertilization with chicken manure etc… Harvesting rye or wheat grain is a matter of cutting rye in shocks and beating the grain out or driving over it. Corn just pick the ears and grind it or you can raise the sweet variety for the freezer. Soybeans you can make into all kinds of things from soy milk to tofu etc. or grow endame to eat the beans. Same thing put it in a pile and drive over it. If you use the drive over it method put a tarp on the ground pile them on it and throw a tarp on top. I was taught originally by the old timers to use a pillow case and just modified it to larger scale. I knew an old timer who said they drove the wagon over the grain piles. We dehusked walnuts when I was a kid in the driveway by driving over them. Those old timers were resourceful I can’t remember which one said they backed the model T up a hot manure or compost pile in the winter to make sure it started. I see a lot of people growing a tomato garden every year and wonder how they get away without rotating crops. I was taught you had to rotate crops. Dirt farming can be hard on soil if done incorrectly so terracing, strips of green grass, waterways etc all prevent erosion. I would not use dirt farming next to a stream because although you can raise a ton of grain that way grass or fruit has less erosion to go in the stream. If it’s a flood plain and many are grain may be all that can be raised there.

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I’ve never grown grains, but Thom Leonard, who used to bake for Wheatfields in Lawrence, did grow wheat for a time. Not sure where he is now but he might be close to you, and is a very interesting person to visit with.

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Buckwheat produces a unique, very dark honey which some people find very tasty. Although I think it looks and tastes like used motor oil, others will pay heavily to buy small quantities.
We love edamame, but the deer and rabbits chew it to the ground, so we use it for a trap crop.
I wish I had the area to grow grains, I’m fascinated by it.

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Eric,
we like buckwheat kasha a lot. It is very popular in Russia and former Soviet Union. We usually buy ours in the small store selling Eastern Europe goods. The buckwheat from there is usually produced and packed in Europe and its already dehulled and toasted and ready to cook. I used to buy buckwheat in American stores and it is often sold there raw, not toasted, light-greenish in color. The raw buck wheat just does not taste good. If I toast it myself it does not roast evenly, and then it it does not cook evenly, when some grains are overcooked and the other are still raw and firm. Buckwheat produce very good honey, very dark brown and nice tasting, it also cost a lot to buy it in the store.
I also bought pressed barley in the Asian store, it sort of looks like pressed oatmeal, which is sold everywhere. The pressed barley makes very nice kasha as well. I liked it a lot and will buy more of it.
As long as the crop rotation I tried to grow corn and all my husks were wormy. We probably have a lot of pests for corn in Nebraska since this is the main crop here. The rabbits eat bush beans and adamame beans faster then they can recover and produce any beans. Fava beans and peas worked for me well.

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Cousinfloyd,
That corn shelling always blisters the heck out of my hands. What I did when I was keeping chickens is through the ears in cobs and all to a hammer mill like this one Used Farm Tractors for Sale: Gehl #50 Hammermill On Wheels (2009-10-28) - TractorShed.com ran by pto on my Farmall M. I still have the hammer mill. The old shellers like this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-HAND-CRANK-CORN-SHELLER-/172437672460?hash=item282616120c:g:SucAAOSw6DtYSWfV leave that section by my thumb raw by the time I shelled enough for 60 hens. That hammer mill turned me white as a ghost from dust though by the end of the day so I ground the corn in cold weather this time of the year so it would last until spring. I stored it in trash cans beside the chicken houses a long with the wheat. I fed chickens wheat mixed with that corn throughout the winter. If I was raising corn for the pigs we called them shucking pigs and fed corn to them on the ear. Corn sure keeps better on the ear in the corn crib than anywhere else. Ergot is some bad stuff, they claim the Salem witch trials were largely influenced by ergot but who knows. Since the person hallucinates (if they don’t die) they think everyone is a witch apparently The Salem Journal: The Aftermath.

Hmm, looked into the details of toasting the buckwheat. The so called green buckwheat, the raw one, is supposed to be better and more nutritious, but it cooks longer and it makes the kind of the goo mass when cooks. The commercially available brown buckwheat is the most popular, because it cooks very fast (you can add cold or hot water to it and wait a couple of hours and it will be ready to eat) and it will be crumbly after cooking. The brown buckwheat is made by treating the green one with the high pressure and temperature commercially. The toasting in the oven helps with the taste, but still the toasted buckwheat will cook into the goo. Never tried any buckwheat noodles, sounds interesting.

Interesting, Antmary. I wonder how a “high pressure” toaster oven would work. I don’t even understand what high pressure toasting would mean in theory, let alone how such a machine might actually work. It sounds like kasha is a very traditional food, though, so there must be traditional, old-fashioned ways to make it. I haven’t yet figured out any small-scale appropriate means of dehulling the grain yet, but I’m pretty sure there’s a way.

I have considered trying buckwheat as a cover crop, or maybe trying other crops like clover, or vetch. But like a lot of things, I get intensely interested in something for a while and then move on to other things. I’m kinda easily distracted. But I might again look into cover crops, as winter is upon us.

As a food, we have had buckwheat, I prefer the toasted version, which I guess is kasha. While my wife doesn’t care much for it, I do on occasion. I usually make it for breakfast, adding stevia (sweetener) and some kind of fat, either butter or coconut oil. I know some folks eat it later in the day with their supper, but I prefer it in the morning. It is very hearty and nutritious, and it’s gluten free, for those who might have such concerns. Here is a common brand of it, I’ve bought it at health food stores, and it might even be in the health food section of some better grocery stores:

http://www.vitacost.com/arrowhead-mills-organic-buckwheat-groats-24-oz

My wife has also made buckwheat based pancakes, they come out looking darker than regular pancakes, and are more dense.The ones we have bought (Bob’s Red Mill) are not gluten free. They are OK, I like them every once in a while, but she doesn’t like them that much. Here is some nutritional info on buckwheat:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11

I have grown some grain- rye,wheat, buckwheat, oats, and also quinoa, amaranth.
I like the naked hull varieties of oat and buckwheat, makes processing to flour much easier.
Watching all the bees and other pollinators working the buckwheat bloom is a pleasure for me in late summer, so I always grow a bit somewhere on the property.

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Jesse, I’m curious about how you use the grains you grow. Have you taken them all to the table?

Is quinoa hard to grow? Hard to process?

I’ve thought about growing amaranth. I think it would probably grow well for me. I bought 5 lbs to try over a year ago and still haven’t used it up. I tried popping it, but that didn’t really work. Maybe fresh homegrown grain would pop better. What do you (or anyone else) do with it?

What do you do with your oats? Do you have a roller?

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Quinoa was low yielding and somewhat prone to mold as the seeds ripened, I gather it is better adapted to a drier climate with a longer season. Amaranth did well here, and it is relatively easy to process, no hull to worry about just need to separate the grain from chaff by winnowing, I do it by pouring from one container to another it on a windy day. Makes a decent cooked grain, flour, even a dye (I grow one red type).
Oats grown here I haven’t used as a food, more as cover crop/green manure. Some straw and milky-stage seed heads are harvested for tea.

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Jesse,
The red dye amaranth that has small black seeds is ok for greens that I grew but not good for grain. I wanted to grow the grain type but none of what I tried grew here. I’m glad to here you had some luck with it. I like the grain I had in the health store but it wouldn’t sprout. Who’s your source for seed.

http://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/amaranth/

Golden Giant produced nice eating grain abundantly. Watch out for them lodging, theynget tippy when they ripen. I agree that the Hopi Red Dye variety doesn’t make a good one-grain dish, but fun for adding some color when you just add a bit. For microgreens and young greens they are good, too. All the varieties are striking in appearance, quite ornamental.

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@clarkinks we are experimenting with some heritage grains. Mostly wheats: spelt, turkey red, einkorn and emmer. This is a trial which we are participating in, with a Colorado heritage grain group. If some of these thrive here, we will be increasing the seed and planting a small area in them for harvest. I am also trying to obtain some perennial rye which produces grain and trialing that here. Let you know how these turn out next summer (although the turkey red has grown very well this fall). As I recall, turkey red used to be grown quite widely in Kansas years ago.

I have grown commercial winter red wheat here in previous years, it did well, and we harvested and threshed it by hand but it was only 1/20th of an acre. Again a test plot. Not that hard to do. Our land is too small and hilly for mechanized harvest, so that will likely limit how much we can grow. However I have read that prior to the midwest becoming the “bread basket” of the country (eg prior to the railroads), it was common for most people to grow a few thousand sq ft of wheat for their family use. If they could do it back then certainly should work now as well.

@Antmary the eastern european recipe for buckwheat usually pan roasts it to a light-medium brown in a dry pan. Cool a bit, add a beaten egg (or more depending upon quantity), stir to coat the buckwheat and heat a bit while stirring to cook/set the egg coating. A slow roast might help even things out. (And I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they hand picked thru the grains taking out the gree and less ripe ones.) Then add choice of liquid cover and simmer til done (like rice). Don’t add too much liquid or cook too long. The egg helps keep the grains separate. You’re after just a thin coat on the grain, not an omelet. But perhaps you already know all this…

Buckwheat is a great “grain” (not really a grain a broadleaf plant seed related to rhubarb). High in protein and vits/minerals. I personally like it mixed with mashed potatoes and sauteed onions. The early greens of the plant are also edible, and good in salads. Unfortunately the deer here REALLY like buckwheat. I can’t grow it except in a protected area.

@cousinfloyd I do have a grain roller, it fits the motor and hand crank base of the grain mill I have. (its called the “Family Grain Mill”). It produces flakes really, like the wheat or other flaked grains you can buy in the health food stores. It works with oats, but does not produce a thin oatmeal type flake (that commercial stuff has been steamed and partially cooked), but a flake like the other grains it makes. It does a good job of making flaked grain, but if you were expecting commercial rolled oats for oatmeal you’d be disappointed. Although one can certainly cook the oat flakes it makes for oatmeal, they are a bit more like steel cut oats.

Have you considered canola as an oil seed crop?

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Sounds like a great project @Steve333. I have considered growing soybeans or peanuts as oil seeds but since most canola is gmo I had not considered growing it. I’m not aware of a good non gmo seed source. I like to grow open pollinated seeds so I can save them and use them the next year. This is an oil press I was considering https://www.amazon.com/NutriChef-Digital-Electronic-Press-Stainless/dp/B014VYF50U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481432326&sr=8-1&keywords=oil+press

Thank you @Steve333, I’ll try your recipe with buckwheat soon. I’ll also read that the green buckwheat is good for sprouting and eating it that way. I would probably try growing it in the garden even if it’s only for bees next summer.

Clark, if you were to grow for oil, high oleic sunflower or high oleic safflower are best bets health wise. These varieties replace the mostly polyunsaturated fats with mostly monounsaturated, yielding a fat spectrum similar to olive oil. Poly- is very inflammatory. Refined safflower oil also has a very high smoke point, second only to refined avocado oil. It is good to saute’ things over a live flame without worrying about toxins.

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Thanks glib sunflowers grow great here in Kansas as you can imagine since it is our state flower. Would probably be a great way to go!

What about flax? Flaxseed oil is supposed to be very good for you.

And if it is feasible to grow it and sell some, you might be able to make some money. The prices for flaxseed oil are quite high.

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VSOP,
That’s a great idea! Flax does have a lot of oil in it I will need to check on growing it.