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Permies likes plants and the farmer likes Sepp Holzer's perennial grain permies
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Sepp Holzer's perennial grain

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
In the videos, it is called "russian corn".

In the second year, it gets to be about eight feet tall.  It sounds like it tastes like rye.  The straw is very useful and they eat bread made from the grain daily.

I asked about getting the seed. 

It sounds like he gets lots of grief if he tries to sell seed. 

However, if you visit his farm, you are welcome to harvest whatever you see.  And it is probably illegal to transport that seed outside of the country.


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Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
There is a perennial rye grain, so I wonder if that is what it is --
Secale montanum.

Here is a bit of info:  http://www.psrseed.com/perennialgrains.html

Paul, do you have a scientific name for it?

Sue
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
yeah even the DNR plant fields and fields of perennial rye in the fields around our area to try to keep the deer from starving in the winter time..i plan to put some in an area this year that was razed last year due to some construction..it is beautiful..a pale blue green


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I'll try to find out the scientific name.  Although Sepp's story about this grain makes it seem like a scientific name might not be available. 

It was sold to him as something for feeding wild game. 
Heidi Bohan
Author


Joined: Feb 14, 2008
Posts: 20
Location: Snoqualmie Valley, Western Washington
    
    5
I am going to forward some of these notes to my permie buddy in Austria, Wolfgang, who was greatly inspired by sepp holzer years ago. I first learned about Sepp through Wolfgang translating his book for me, so it was great to meet this man finally. I hope that all who are reading Paul's notes here realize that a lot has been lost in translation, and the heavy critique I just read on other threads was tough to hear, especially when I read these posts and the knowledge level. I know David Holgren was also greatly impressed during his visit there a few years ago. Sepp is someone to listen to... we don't get many who are the real deal.

Wolf and Beth are coming back to American in the next year, and I will ask if he can track down this particular rye seed. I'm big on grain so that was already on my radar. Maybe he can go to Sepps place to get it, not sure how hard that would be. I'm planning a trip to Austria in the future as well. He gets seed through... I got some from them last go round.

I'll keep you in mind Paul.


Heidi Bohan, Ethnobotanist, educator, author- People of Cascadia, Starflower Native Plant ID Cards; Skills based mentorship programs
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I think the doubt is from lack of details. 

Sue
                                    


Joined: Dec 10, 2007
Posts: 8
Is it really a perennial though?
Or just an Einkorn -long straw wheat?

The John Innes centre maintains a collection of 1000's of cereals.
They are available for 'research' purposes in m2 quantities.

Regards,
N
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It is a winter rye.  But, I suspect that it has been bred by Sepp to extra tough, extra tall, and extra productive.

                            


Joined: May 01, 2009
Posts: 20
Location: Pittsburgh PA
I assumed it was a Russian wheat -- I figured "corn" in British English means "wheat" or whatever grain is most common to an area. I wouldn't know the difference between odd strains of wheat and rye from the video though.
Tim JFowler


Joined: Oct 16, 2008
Posts: 5
Location: New Mexico
Sepp's "Russian Corn" could be Intermediate Wheatgrass (Agropyron intermedium) or a relative.

"Intermediate wheatgrass is a sod-forming, cool-season, perennial grass native to central Europe, the Balkans and Asia Minor. It was introduced into the United States from the Maikop region of Russian in 1932."

There is quite a lot of information online, esp. from agricultural college studies.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1990/v1-143.html

FWIW,
Tim


- Cool. Practical. Sustainable. EcoDaddyo.com
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Per Josef Holzer (Sepp's son):  "it´s a variety of secale cereale
(a local kind from russia)"

bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
hi all. i'm a newbie here and from eastern Washington state. i have read Sepp's book 'The Rebel Farmer' and thoroughly enjoyed it.  we have 40 acres here and are slowly adapting his methods. i was very interested in his perennial grain also and tried to find out and acquire some seed, but to no avail.

Susan Monroe wrote:
There is a perennial rye grain, so I wonder if that is what it is --
Secale montanum.

Here is a bit of info:  http://www.psrseed.com/perennialgrains.html

Paul, do you have a scientific name for it?

Sue


in rereading the info about Mountaineer Perennial Rye that sue posted, it says "Secale montanum or wild rye is now transformed into a grain plant similar to Secale cereale.", which sounds like it's very similar to sepp's, as what paulw just posted.

we planted 75 plus Mountaineer Perennial Rye plants, we started in March last year in the greenhouse in flats, in April or beginning of May. we also planted Ezeer Perennial Wheat. the wheat produced an abundance of grain. the rye produced empty seed pods. ( i just found out that you're supposed to plant this perennial rye in July or August.)

this year, the second year, out of the 75 plus plants i planted, only 6 or 7 of the wheat returned, Ezeer perennial wheat coming back this spring...looked very different from first year...

http://www.imageuploads.net/ims/pic.php?u=27615PDlUo&i=172185

http://www.imageuploads.net/ims/pic.php?u=27615PDlUo&i=172186

and all of 75 plus rye plants returned....

http://www.imageuploads.net/ims/pic.php?u=27615PDlUo&i=167819

the rye put on a grand show and i started harvesting when the heads became quite dry....

http://www.imageuploads.net/ims/pic.php?u=27615PDlUo&i=172167

http://www.imageuploads.net/ims/pic.php?u=27615PDlUo&i=172168

it sort of looks like the grain in sepp's photos in his book, i think. over ten feet tall. we had a small amount of Ergot too this year, from the rain we had early in the season i think. still studying these perennial grains.

Brenda Groth wrote:
yeah even the DNR plant fields and fields of perennial rye in the fields around our area to try to keep the deer from starving in the winter time..i plan to put some in an area this year that was razed last year due to some construction..it is beautiful..a pale blue green


brenda, i am curious as to what variety of perennial rye they are using?
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
well i just found a great recipe for bread that you store in the frig (see cooking thread on Artisan bread in 5 min a day...I have a vitamix which grinds flour and would love to grow my own grains next year..this year i just didn't have time to get that going..but want to get it going next year..

perennial rye is a common thing in our area..i can go harvest it in the wild as the DNR plants rye fields for the deer and other wildlife..but i want it on our own property..also would like to try growing some other grains..and also harvest some of the wild plants that can be used for grain that grow around here..like cattails..etc..that grow wild on our property.

would be nice if we actually could get a start of his seed here in the us..but if not..i really would like to begin a grain harvest program on our property..grains is one of the few things i do not grow here at the moment.
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
that's what we are doing, growing grains for flour for bread and such brenda. i have a hand grinder that works well, especially when the power's out!

so what the DNR are planting must be a 'wild' perennial rye?

cattails grow naturally here. we haven't tried all the parts yest, but we enjoy the cucumber flavor of the early stems.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Where did you get the "Mountaineer Perennial Rye"?

Have you eaten any of the grain yet?  I'm guessing that the chickens think it is great stuff?

bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
paul, i bought the Mountaineer Perennial Rye here last year...

www.psrseed.com/

they ran out and are supposed to have more of it this coming season. if they don't, i have some i can share with you from this year's crop.

i haven't cleaned it yet, so neither we, nor the critters have tasted it. the kernals are nice and plump.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I would think the chickens would need only a stalk clipping and they could take care of getting the food out of the hull.  Have you tried that?

bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
no paul, we are without chickens and our ducks won't be here till spring. Thelma and Louise, our semi-pygmy goats like it! 

i forgot to mention before that as well as using the rye for flour and baking, it is also great for sprouting.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
Bunkie, i would like a small small start of some of the seed sometime before spring (is that when you plant it) if you could spare some..maybe a teaspoon full, i can get my own seed after that.
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
sure thing brenda. PM me your snail mail address.

i did plant it in spring, but found out that was wrong. it is supposed to be planted in July or August. the breeder, Tim Peters told me he was very surprized when i had seed heads form when planting that early. they formed, but there was no seed in them!
                              


Joined: May 24, 2009
Posts: 12
Bunkie,

Any chance I could get some seed from you as well?  (I'll pm my address to you, if that is a possibility).
thanks,
Chuck
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
sure thing cestin! am returning your PM.

brenda, pm me your mailing address if you still want some.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2245
Location: FL
    
  61
I'm looking for a way to thresh grains, red wheat in particular.  Anyone have a device or link?

Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
I have been spreading perennial rye for a while now.  I usually buy like 10 pounds when I buy horse feed (at the feed and seed of course) and the chickens do like it very much...but at a buck and a half a pound I try to make sure they plenty of sunflower, milo and such so hopefully some seed will survive to grow more seed.
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Figuring out how to grow perennial grains in an unplowed field is one of the greatest challenges for a permaculturist.  When I first saw Fukuoka's rice/barley fields in the early 1970's I was truly amazed.  I didn't know it was possible to grow grain in an unplowed field.  Sadly, few others have been able to figure out how to do it since.  Bill Mollison didn't even mention growing grain in Permaculture One because he knew of no way to do it without plowing. 

There is a group of farmers in the Corvallis area, notably Harry McCormack of Sunbow Farm and some of his local friends, who are working to solve this poser.  They are working with various cereal grains and beans.  So far they have had some success with triticale, which is a cross of wheat and rye.  I'll keep you posted.

Please check out our permaculture design course for February in Western Washington.  www.sahalepermaculture.com


onestrawrevolution.com
There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write poetry or compose a song -- Masanobu Fukuoka
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
Ken Peavey wrote:
I'm looking for a way to thresh grains, red wheat in particular.  Anyone have a device or link?



here's some ideas from Tim Peters...

Cleaning Wheat

Writen by Tim Peters
Here are my suggestions for those of you who are growing grain but have no combine or small thresher per se.
For a thresher you can use/do the following with good relative efficiency.

METHOD 1
1. several large tarps. (i use the cheap plastic ones).
2. A large box fan. 3. A Leaf rake. 4. A 2x2 up to 3x3 square of hardware cloth (screen) of the right size, mounted on a wood frame, to let the seed thru quickly but keep back most/all the bigger untreshed head/pieces.
5. A good wheelbarrow. 6. Some 5 gal. buckets. 7. A rubber tired vehicle, like a car or truck. 8. A slab of cement, like a driveway or garage floor.

Harvest by hand, using your arm to bunch and one hand to grasp the head bunch (don't gather all that stalk material), and the other hand holding the rose/hand pruner/clipper to massively cut off the heads (below the hand that is grasping them just below the head).
Then drop them into your 35 gal plastic garbage can which you are dragging long, ...and repeat.

Dump heads on a tarp that is placed on the slab of cement (or very smooth ground). Perhaps put another tarp over the top. Drive your vehicle wheel over the pile, back and forth across the pile. Pull off tarp. Rake off onto top tarp the untreshed heads. Lift tarp sides to pile remaining, pour into bucket, set box fan on wheelbarrow handles, turn on high, stand on side and pour grain threshings into barrow in front of fan (on the barrow angled front side to create a deflected non damaging fall for seed), repeat, use a dustpan and dust broom to get back into bucket. put sceen over barrow, pour on as much seed as is sane, move the screen side to side vigourously across the top of barrow, throw residue back onto tarp for further thresh... repeat until satisfied with seed cleaning. Use a cookie sheet and tweezers to remove anything else from the batch, later.

METHOD 2
There are some old fashioned leaf shredders that can be made to run at low speeds and blades can be rubbered, i have one... exceeding useful and very quickly cleaned between varieties... I will get you all pictures I hope in the next couple of months, if I can get back across the country to where they are. ....this is used on the tarp with cloth drappery at base to keep it from spitting the seeds across the countryside... rest of procedure is as above... very quick once you get the hang of it. TAKE GREAT CARE TO KEEP SEEDS OF ONE VARIETY FROM HAVING ANOTHER VARIETY FLY INTO THEM... THIS IS EASIER BY FAR THAN TRYING TO CLEAN UP A VARIETY LATER, BELIEVE ME.

HAND THRESH METHOD
you can use a rough block of wood and a rubber mat to rub loose the seed of single head selections.

...hope these methods I developed help you
Tim Peters, seed and research

http://alanbishop.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=corn&action=display&thread=2184
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Thanks for this great information!  Please keep us informed of anything more on this...and photos if possible.
Pat Maas


Joined: May 08, 2008
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
Bunkie,

Any chance I could get some seed from you as well?
Thank you


My method for planting grain without plowing
Rake the area being planted, enough to "rough"  the surface, spread seed, scatter a layer of straw on top and water well.

I use this in alleys between rows of orchard trees that are 20'w and 140' long.
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Sounds great, Pat.  Any chance of fitting in a n-fixing groundcover like low growing clover in there?  The trees would love it.  With the roots of the grain to go along you'd be making compost right under the surface.
Pat Maas


Joined: May 08, 2008
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
Hi Larry,
    Will be adding some clover this year, likely the big red as like it in my tea and the price for flowers has gone through the roof. Will be working with different legumes to find what works best. I try very hard to consider all aspects of trying something new to help the land.  What looks like it should, doesn't always. Also have to consider my little furry underground buddies that love clover!
    Have sheet mulched much of the orchard alleys, but when starting only had a few goats so it took years, even with much scrounging materials locally. Have 5 left to do and those will be planted with legumes and grain. Everything else will be planted with crops that have shown to do well with no till here.
    Have already accepted may have to do what was done with the corn patch. Years of repeated and deep mulching with a mix of local wood shavings or mulch/  leaves, hay stubble and the cleaning from the barn. About a 1/4 acre and am working on it now. Corn and squash have done increasingly well here and the earth worms love it.
    It's just been a matter of having what was needed to do the work.
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
Pat Maas wrote:
Bunkie,

Any chance I could get some seed from you as well?
Thank you........


sure thing pat. PM me your mailing address...
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
i didn't want to start another thread on perennials, but thought this article was interesting. it's what they're doing in Kansas to create more perennial plants. i love the way they're going about it...not genetically engineered. i like this guy's thinking too...why plant something every year, when you could plant only once?! there's a good video in the link too showing pics of annual plant roots and perennial plant roots. this is why i'm experimenting with perennial grains. amazing....

From Annuals to Perennials
http://www.permacultureusa.org/2009/12/19/from-annuals-to-perennials/#more-1553

Permaculture is all about mimicking natural systems – patterning our agriculture and other critical human needs on the symbiotic processes we observe all around us. If you compare nature’s methods we see that stable natural plant systems are polycultures, and perennial, whereas our modern industrial agriculture is the exact opposite – largely being monocultures and annuals.

But, imagine if the annual crops we rely on the most, grains and pulses, could be made to grow perennially instead. No end/beginning of year ploughing, no annual replanting, etc. It would save enormous amounts of time and energy on cultivation and planting, and allow soils to remain undisturbed for longer, with immense benefits to soil life, structure, organic matter and carbon content.

The video below highlights this out-of-the-box permaculture thinking. The Land Institute in Kansas has been working solidly on engineering annuals into perennials (by way of natural plant breeding – not by gene gun). They take ancient wild, perennial varieties of grains, and cross them with their modern annual counterparts, and repeat, and repeat, until they end up with a harvestable product from a plant that doesn’t have to be resown every year. Or at least that’s the aim. This is still a work in progress, but their purpose is "to develop an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops".

The implications/benefits of this are hard to exaggerate – both in terms of energy/time expenditure for farmers, but also in terms of the health/structure of soil that doesn’t have to be cultivated nearly so often and the potential biodiversity (stability) that could be achieved with mixes of these polycultures.

With populations growing, the gap between nature’s way, and ‘our’ way, needs closing. We must find ways to eat that don’t undermine the very resources of soil, water and air that that eating depends on. This is the kind of ‘genetic engineering’ that I can endorse, and is the kind of research for the public good that should be aided by all governments that give a hoot about the future.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15261
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Ken Peavey wrote:
I'm looking for a way to thresh grains, red wheat in particular.  Anyone have a device or link?



Ken, that is an excellent question for a new thread in the homesteading forum.

                              


Joined: Mar 17, 2010
Posts: 1
Does anyone know where Tim Peter's seeds can now be obtained?

The link above (http://www.psrseed.com/perennialgrains.html) appears to be dead, with a message of "Peters Seed is Canceled."
bunkie weir


Joined: Nov 05, 2009
Posts: 109
Location: eastern washington
    
    1
not sure what's going on with Peters Seed. i just wrote them.

i sent you a PM f00b3r with tim's email addy.
                              


Joined: Jun 07, 2011
Posts: 10
Hi I was just wondering how you guys are doing growing your perennial grains. is there any chance I could buy a small amount of seed to try to grow?
Michael Newby


Joined: Apr 06, 2011
Posts: 165
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
    
    9
Has there been any further progress with the perennial grains?  I am very interested in these as I grow my farmstead, but I am having a hard time finding a good source for seeds.

I did find and interesting article at http://www.primalseeds.org/OTHERSTUFF/new/grain.htm -

at the bottom is the list of perennial grains, of which the Agrotriticum sounds most promising to me.


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Chris Holcombe


Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Zone 7a Philadelphia
I'm not sure if it has been mentioned yet but I found this site that has a lot of ancient grains:  http://www.ancientcerealgrains.org/seedandliteraturecatalog.html
Andrew Ray


Joined: Sep 25, 2011
Posts: 131
Location: Slovakia
Most likely the reason Sepp would be reluctant to sell seeds is that, in the EU, to sell seed that is not a registered variety is a crime.  In fact, to even give someone such seed is a crime, but I guess you can't do much if they just happen to pick it off some plants on your farm!

Its really quite insane!
                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
There is a company in England - http://www.realseeds.co.uk/   that gets around this by charging everyone a penny to belong to their club. Apparently then they are allowed to sell seed to "clubmembers" as I got some seed from them this year.That was the first time I had heard of such a thing as not being allowed to sell seed that wasn't a "registered variety". Isn't freedom a wonderful thing?

Maybe someone could find out if that was also possible for Sepp, and if so, if he was interested in following up with that.

Btw, it's now even more important than ever to support heritage seeds.. one of the largest seed companies in the world  (Vilmorin) with multiple subsidiaries has said that as of 2012 they will be stocking and selling GMO seed.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
 
subject: Sepp Holzer's perennial grain
 
cast iron skillet 49er

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