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A grain that is easy to grow and easy to process/harvest

 
pollinator
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Hello,

As spring is almost there, I am planning the garden, but it feels like I'm saying this in every post.

I have setup a few bio-intensive beds, and there is one where one half is winter wheat, and the other half currently is onions, garlic, carrots and some other stuff. When that other half is harvested, possibly in mid-april, I want to plant more carbon crops there, but ideally they should be easy to harvest without equipment of any kind (and I'm not considering wheat to be easy to harvest), and not need to be babysitted when sown.

What I mean, is that rice seems to require to be planted in pots and then transplanted.

Wheat need to be somewhat processed before being usable, and I'd like to avoid that.

The grains that I have available to sow are:
  • Amaranth
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Millet
  • Sunflower
  • Sorghos


  • Does anyone have any experience on growing these, and one to recommend ? Ideally, I can sow it without much effort (no transplanting) and harvest it, process it without too much effort. If you happen to know a companion plant to add in there, it would be even better.

    As far as I know, rice need to be transplanted, and sunflower might need to too.
     
    gardener
    Posts: 500
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    There are grains for every climate, altitude, number of growing days, soil type, sunshine, rainfall quantity and pattern. Please tell us more about your ecosystem Mike. So far without knowing anything, I can say one thing with certainty: that you can sprout all those grains/seeds you mentioned in a jar!
     
    Mike Lafay
    pollinator
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    Woops. I live in a 8b climate. Soil is mostly clay.
     
    Amy Gardener
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    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/World_Hardiness_Zones.png
    My high altitude, sandy desert, 7b experience won't be much help to you Mike. However, all the places noted on the map in orange are in zone 8. You'll get great regional advice from people near you and guidance worldwide in the zone 8 areas at your latitude and altitude if your super specific with the details of your land. Best of luck with your spring garden!
     
    gardener
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    is there a reason corn isn’t on your list? it might be one of the easiest grains to deal with.

    i can tell you that growing amaranth is super easy but winnowing the grain can be pretty tricky.
     
    Mike Lafay
    pollinator
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    I have the best reason possible for not having corn there: I already have a spot planned for it ! But since I have those other seed packs, I want to use them before the seeds die. Since I'm planning so much for the garden this year, I want to stick to "easy" grain.
     
    pollinator
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    I have grown millet, quinoa, and sunflower in a zone a little cooler than you, and they can all be direct sown. However, they all take quite a bit of processing to make them fit for human consumption. You can mechanize all of it with a little bit of mechanical inclination, and even something as simple as a bike-powered thresher will speed things up quite a bit. The easiest grain I have done is probably buckwheat. The grains have a husk, but it can be sifted out after grinding with a burr mill. I suspect an impact mill would pulverize it, but have not tried it.

    I have done some experiments in years past with grains, but got discouraged by how much work it is relative to the cost of just buying organic grain. I am trying a new approach this year: I am going to harvest triticale and feed it directly to chickens without processing. If you go through a field and just cut the grain heads off, it shrinks down pretty well. Then you can go back through and cut the straw if you want it, or just let it return to the soil as heavy mulch.
     
    gardener
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    not sure what you`re using it for, but you should be able to do sunflowers and sorghum easily, they can be direct sown (if you can keep the birds from eating the seeds- putting some straw or mulch over is what I do). Sorghum you just whack the crap out of it to get the seeds, it makes good mulch and even better animal fodder. Sunflowers, again animal fodder and seeds.
    Amaranth, quinoa and millet should also grow for you in zone 8 but for human use you`re probably going to want to hull them (unless you use them for sprouting or something) but animals wouldn't care.
     
    pollinator
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    It probably won't like your heat but rye is very easy, easy to grow and easy to thresh, to cook it just boil the threshed grains.
     
    pollinator
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    If wheat is too labour intensive for you, it seems like all the plants you mentioned would be disqualified as well.

    A lot of the ones you list have big seed heads, so you might consider them easier to harvest than wheat, but threshing amd processing is more troublesome. Quinoa and amaranth are hard to separate from the chaff. Quinoa needs to be washed to get the saponins off. Rice and most millet need to be hulled before eating. Pearl millet doesn't need hulling, but it doesn't thresh as well other grains I've grown. Sunflowers need to be shelled. Maybe sorghum is easy, but I haven't grown it.

    I also think rye is the easiest I can think of because it threshes so cleanly, but the effort involved in harvesting is going to be the same as wheat. I find it pretty easy to just walk along, grabbing handfuls of stems, cutting with a knife or sickle, and dropping the heads into a bin, though. Any heads shorter than a comfortable grabbing height don't get harvested.

    Once the heads are harvested, you can put them in a pillowcase and just thwack them on a wall a bit to separate the seeds from the heads.  For larger amounts I've also folded the rye in a sheet and hit the bundle with a whippy stick. You don't have to hit hard.  Then winnow. The empty heads can be scooped off the top of the grain and most of the chaff is so light you barely need a breeze to blow it away.

    I found the types of barley and wheat I've grown so far don't thresh as easily as rye and the chaff is heavier so doesn't blow away so effortlessly.

    I'd say pearl millet is the tastiest grain, though. Maybe worth growing just for that.
     
    gardener & hugelmaster
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    Have you considered buckwheat?
     
    Jan White
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    Supposedly buckwheat is prone to lodging in soils high in nitrogen. My soil is highly deficient in nitrogen and my buckwheat has all fallen over three years in a row. I don't know if anyone else has that problem, but it might be something to be prepared for if you try it.
     
    pollinator
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    I tried to harvest some wild oat, and I learned that you can't do it without proper tools.
    A mill was required to separate the grain from the capsule, but I have no good mill for this task.

    I wonder if toasting/roasting the whole grains before processing could help somehow. In the oven? A pan?
     
    gardener
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    I live in a very cold climate, (not polar, interior at 6000 feet) and I have just one thing to add.

    Years ago I noticed sunflowers germinate much earlier than the seed packet would have you believe.

    Next to an old concrete sidewalk or down in the crevices between wood chip mulch, they germinate AND survive subsequent snows.

    My best theory is that the mulch and concrete provide enough protection… similar protection could be devised with rocks and logs, and protected with a light covering of straw.

    If I direct sow later, the direct down seeds grow, but don’t catch up, flowering much later than the “feral” ones.

    My guess is that we can take advantage of this if we need early sunflower bloom, or need to lengthen the growing season for a particular crop.

    With the feral germination style, you probably don’t get the same survival rate as later plantings.  And if I have spent money on the seeds, I want the higher success rate, soooo, the first year, I use bought or rare seed to produce as much seed as I can.  When I have so much seed I don’t need every seed to produce, I switch to feral germination.  

    I consider that I am changing what “weed seeds” inhabit my soil, or that I am adding preferred species to my latent seed bank.

    If shelling sunflower seeds isn’t practical, I feed the seeds to the chickens, who turn them into eggs…. I just cut the seed heads right before the wild birds take more than I want to share, then dole them out to the chickens in winter.

    They can also be germinated in trays as in
    fodder systems, thus increasing nutrient density for humans as well as our livestock.

    Sunflower seeds and the seed heads are good fodder for goats too.  Mine prefer them green and immature, or mature and in the shell, but removed from the seed head.

    When I am culling flowers because I want different size or shape or color, the flowers I remove are goat favorites
     
    gardener
    Posts: 764
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    How big are the beds?  What about trying a small amount of each of the seeds you have?  

    I like to do a lot of trials. I find three benefits:

    Which plants grow best in my conditions
    Which plants I like best (whether that is taste or just harvesting)
    And sometimes I can propagate a new crop of seed in the process

    But as far as giving a plug for any one of those...

    I'm a fan of amaranth for many reasons. The greens are great, the seeds are nice, and the whole plant makes excellent compost. It's a dynamic accumulator of multiple nutrients.  I've collected the greens for years, blanched and froze them.  It's not simple to harvest the grain, but it's multi-uses fit so well into permaculture and my life that I love it.

    As for a good companion crop, cowpeas are a decent one for many crops, and it's been studied with amaranth and found to increase certain nutrients. Austrian winter pea has been studied with amaranth, as well, and increases yield.  It depends on your location - I'm in the desert SW and cowpeas grow like weeds here. I grow Austrian winter pea in the winter, cowpea in the summer.

    Amaranth is also very beautiful.

    There is a wonderful thread by R. Ranson on amaranth here, including a great video on how you harvest seed:
    All about amaranth including harvesting it

    My second favorite on your list are sunflowers, if you are in a place where they can dry thoroughly.  Food value-wise, they are hard to beat. They might be the easiest to harvest on your list.  Depends if you count having to de-hull them or not.

     
    Posts: 146
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    Depends what you want if for. If animal feed, sunflowers are easy, no reason to transplant (probably wouldn't work actually) and only need 70 days. But I have found no way to crack them efficiently (if anyone knows a method, please tell me! I BUY sunflower seeds for human consumption but give the ones I grow to the chickens). Sorghum also is very easy (After planting you have to weed a time or two and the seedlings look a lot like grass, but there is a subtle difference and once they get past a few inches they will grow vigorously in about any soil (clay is fine, that's what I've got, it looks like corn until it flowers--on top, no ears. The seedheads are quite beautiful as they move from green through gold to a deep red. I've grown the syrup kind--which, practically speaking is only worth doing if you have access to a mill. But even they put out a nice seed plume on top, and I've mostly given them to the chickens. No need to pluck the seeds, the chickens can do it; but I mostly have, so I could store them in a smaller space. I've also ground them into a coarse flour using a cheap Corona mill--this is gluten free for those who care, and isn't bad in pancakes (I mixed it with wheat flour).
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    Some thoughts on hulling sunflower seeds:

    I think there are “decorticators”.  Not something I would own or utilize, but in thinking about what mechanical action might crack the hulls….

    I do have a hand crank kind of “mill”.  Maybe it’s called a corona mill, I don’t know.  It has a hopper that feeds seeds into the space between two round plates.  The plates revolve, or maybe one is stationary and the other revolves.  The space between the plates is adjustable.  Because there are grooves in the plates, and the sunflower seeds are flatter than they are round, I can imagine them getting caught in the grooves, then cracked as the plate revolves.

    Clearly I haven’t done this, but it is worth a try!  

    Even if only some of the kernels could be easily separated from the hulls, the humans could have the “whole” kernels, and the chickens would separate out the smaller or broken bits, and the pieces stuck in the shell… they would be GLAD to do it, if they could keep what they found😁😉

    I do love my chicken partners
     
    pollinator
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    I found out that 'Sepp Holzer grain' is an easy grain to grow, to harvest (small amounts) and to process and cook. In fact it's a variety of rye.
     
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    Corn, corn, corn.  That's my experience with growing multiple grains over many years as part of a year-round diet for my household in western WA.  Tried rice, quinoa, barley, spelt, rye, amaranth, buckwheat, sunflowers, oats...  I still grow small quantities of most of those, but no grain beats corn for sheer calories per hour of work.  Purple hull-less barley was also a good one, and one I could fall-sow, which is a good tool for my garden planning.  Sounds like you have your corn plans squared away for now, but to keep in mind.

    Multiple varieties of flint corn (favorites: Saskatoon White for its awesome earliness and sweet flavor, Cascade Ruby-Gold for its work ethic and color). Flour corn: Painted Mountain, mostly because I run farm programs for kids and adults, and they LOVE harvesting colorful corn.  Painted Mountain makes decent cornbread but I wouldn't list it as on of my culinary staples.
    Popcorn: Dakota Black or Glass Gem.  To my surprise Early Pink, despite being listed as a shorter season corn, has never done well here.  It might be the hot summer we just had, but my trial of Glass Gem was very successful.  It's also a colorful one, so I get the farm program mileage out of it too. (Hey kids, I've got a fence for you to whitewash!)

    I'm able to grow enough corn in big enough plots that I can save seed at least in a "if seed companies stop working" kind of way, even if I'm not purposely maintaining pure varieties.  One of the drawbacks of corn is the inbreeding depression if you're saving from a small plot.

    I read a book on corn where the author pointed out that corn was developed by plant breeders with no metal tools or draft animals, so it's well suited to growing and processing by hand.  I concur. My wheel hoe and I can grow multiple five-gallon buckets full of corn, aided by the ridiculous amounts of manure we have at Hawthorn Farm. Net calorie gain.

    In the winter goat pen grows a few rows Skagit Blue (reportedly) perennial wheat, planted April 2021.  So far so good; it stands up to grazing pressure and then can put up seed heads when I move the goats out of there in the spring.  It made some seed heads the first year I planted it but I think it would rather be fall-sown.  Makes excellent biscuits, and gotta love anything I can perennialize.  It might give corn a run for its money, but only because of the perennial factor, and because the goats fertilize it all winter without me having to do anything.

    I could never get home-grown quinoa to taste as good as store-bought, no matter how much rinsing I did or boiling in changes of water.  The advantage of quinoa was that bugs never touched it in storage.  And neither did we. I start both quinoa and amaranth in soil blocks and transplant them to help me keep track of them and not weed them by accident. Amaranth popped in a hot dry skillet and then maple syrup drizzled over it to make a rice krispie-like confection... Mmm, it IS a lot of work but sweet snack foods are a real treasure.
     
    gardener & author
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    Thekla McDaniels wrote:I live in a very cold climate, (not polar, interior at 6000 feet) and I have just one thing to add.

    Years ago I noticed sunflowers germinate much earlier than the seed packet would have you believe.

    Next to an old concrete sidewalk or down in the crevices between wood chip mulch, they germinate AND survive subsequent snows.

    My best theory is that the mulch and concrete provide enough protection… similar protection could be devised with rocks and logs, and protected with a light covering of straw.

    If I direct sow later, the direct down seeds grow, but don’t catch up, flowering much later than the “feral” ones.

    My guess is that we can take advantage of this if we need early sunflower bloom, or need to lengthen the growing season for a particular crop.

    With the feral germination style, you probably don’t get the same survival rate as later plantings.  And if I have spent money on the seeds, I want the higher success rate, soooo, the first year, I use bought or rare seed to produce as much seed as I can.  When I have so much seed I don’t need every seed to produce, I switch to feral germination.  

    I consider that I am changing what “weed seeds” inhabit my soil, or that I am adding preferred species to my latent seed bank.

    If shelling sunflower seeds isn’t practical, I feed the seeds to the chickens, who turn them into eggs…. I just cut the seed heads right before the wild birds take more than I want to share, then dole them out to the chickens in winter.

    They can also be germinated in trays as in
    fodder systems, thus increasing nutrient density for humans as well as our livestock.

    Sunflower seeds and the seed heads are good fodder for goats too.  Mine prefer them green and immature, or mature and in the shell, but removed from the seed head.

    When I am culling flowers because I want different size or shape or color, the flowers I remove are goat favorites




    I had similar results with sunflowers this year!

    I used to always plant them once frost had passed, and then I recently read somewhere that they can be started much earlier, so I just broadcast some in with some wheat and parsnip seed 2 months earlier than what I’d usually do, and it came up and is going well.

    I am in zone 8b I think, also clay soil.

    Hull-less oats seem to be going well here so far. Some people have trouble with birds eating it, but that’s not an issue at my place. I direct sowed this as early as I could get it in, next year I’ll try even earlier. Khorasan was going well sown in mid-spring until some wildlife ate it, I’d like to get this in a bit earlier next year I think as well. I was keen to try hull-less barley too, but it was getting too late in this season, so I’ll try next year.

    Buckwheat I direct sowed this year as a catch crop for chicken fodder or green manure, but a farm kind of near here grows this and quinoa commercially. Both these crops they are harvesting fairly late in the autumn compared to the other grains, I’m not sure if rain can be an issue or not.
     
    pollinator
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    Jan White wrote:Supposedly buckwheat is prone to lodging in soils high in nitrogen. My soil is highly deficient in nitrogen and my buckwheat has all fallen over three years in a row. I don't know if anyone else has that problem, but it might be something to be prepared for if you try it.



    I'm in a sandbox, zone 4b. I have not had the lodging problem you mentioned. However, I tried to do clover after it and it never really 'took'. I suspect allelopathy. The field in bloom was spectacular and my bees made an abundant crop of dark rich honey. I didn't have the right tools to harvest them but I got enough to plant another year. It would be easy, if foraging by animals is the goal to just let them loose over the mowed plot.
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    Alexia Allen wrote:

    a few rows Skagit Blue (reportedly) perennial wheat, planted April 2021.  So far so good; it stands up to grazing pressure and then can put up seed heads when I move the goats out of there in the spring.  It made some seed heads the first year I planted it. .




    Alexia, this is one of the most exciting things I have heard of in a long time!

    I’ve just done a few searches for seed, can’t find it for sale.

    I am wildly curious to know where I can get some.
     
    Mike Lafay
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    Well thanks everyone for your replies. I've decided to go for amaranth, since it seems that most grains require some processing (except corn which is much easier).

    I have a few season of experience with gardening in general, but have grown grains only twice: wheat last year, corn this year. So far, I came to a similar conclusion: just buying the grain or the flour is much, much easier than growing it for human consumption. If chicken and other animal have no issue with unprocessed grain, well they could be used as feed without much effort and still provide a decent amount of composting materiel.

    For now, I want in a few years to grow almost all of my food, but I'm ready to make a few compromise for the most annoying stuff. If buying 10kg of grains for 25 bucks mean I can save a dozen day of hard work, then so be it (as long as said grain is GMO free, organic, etc). But maybe growing a lot of grain to then turn it into fresh eggs and delicious chickens would be much less work, and provide more. From what I know, grain is absolutely not essential to live. But it can help makes nice things, like cakes, pasta, pie, etc.
     
    Kim Goodwin
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    Mike Lafay wrote:
    For now, I want in a few years to grow almost all of my food, but I'm ready to make a few compromise for the most annoying stuff. If buying 10kg of grains for 25 bucks mean I can save a dozen day of hard work, then so be it (as long as said grain is GMO free, organic, etc). But maybe growing a lot of grain to then turn it into fresh eggs and delicious chickens would be much less work, and provide more. From what I know, grain is absolutely not essential to live. But it can help makes nice things, like cakes, pasta, pie, etc.



    I applaud and share the goal!

    I've also found that buying grain for eating is amazingly cost effective, especially once you try growing and harvesting and cleaning and storing it yourself.  That really makes one appreciate the work that goes into it, and how critical the local, small European mills once were for communities. (Referring to the ones that ground your grain for you...)

    With amaranth and chickens, I've been reading about this for awhile in order to figure out what chicken feed I could most easily grow.  Most research says that chickens can't utilize the raw grain.  It has to be heated to destroy antinutrients. The leaves, dried are used with less issue, but still as a small part of the diet.  I didn't see any studies showing using raw leaves, which I'm more interested in.

    Some sources say quail can be fed the raw grain, but in this study where they found even 7% of amaranth in the diet negatively affected quail egg production. They recommend keeping it at only 4% of the diet for Japanese quail.

    Using amaranth in poultry diets  In this paper, they say quail can eat it without issue, but that's not what the studies below say... the ones below are where my note above on quail come from.

    The affect of amaranth seed on Japanese quail egg production

    The effect of amaranth seed added to the standard diet upon selected meat quality traits in the quail


    I like feeding with free choice as much as possible - meaning making sure an animal has free choice to a wide variety of individual foods and minerals,  so can use their own instincts to decide what they need.  But that does take more work because you have to pay attention to keeping a high level of variety available for them, so they don't get desperate and eat things they don't really want to eat, or eat as much of.

    With loose grain and free-range (or partially free-range) birds, I have found that a lot of the stuff they didn't want to eat gets knocked on the ground and sprouts.  I wonder if sometimes that sprouting can help - like if the chicken or duck can then eat the sprouted grain without issues. But I haven't seen studies on how well this works - it's more an observation I've made from keeping birds. I'd be curious if anyone knows if sprouting solves the amaranth antinutrient problem versus heat-treating.  But I suppose amaranth grain could be cooked up in a porridge, eat what you like, and feed the rest to the birds.
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    A few years back I was growing broom corn- a type of sorghum I think.  I saved some seed, but the extra I fed to the chickens.  Seems like the grain in commercial chicken scratch (which I don’t buy ) includes sorghum.

    I wonder how I would be able to tell if the chickens were not utilizing the amaranth they ate while foraging.
     
    pollinator
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    We’ve grown wheat and sunflower.  Harvested wheat by hand, by cutting off seed heads after they turned golden and dropped indicating ripeness.  Grew in a patch where I planted Jerusalem Artichokes before planting wheat.  Did a light hay mulch over entire patch to cover wheat seeds.  The wheat ripened as the sunchokes were getting about 8 inches high, and after I harvested, left those wheat stalks still standing, they fell over and helped mulch the sunchokes.  Did great.  Dried in paper grocery bags in the house, still haven’t threshed it.  Need a good small manual thresher for the tiny amount we have.  I know you can rub between hands, while wearing leather gloves, or beat with a flail the way some rural people in Portugal still do it, but I just haven’t gotten the knack of doing that.  The sunflowers made a huge crop, growing much larger heads than they are supposed to, but then, we actively keep microbes alive and add lots of minerals to soil and use worm castings and a little bit of aerated compost sprayed on initially before planting an area.  All was well until they started ripening, and deer consumed the entire 1/4 acre over 3 nights.  We managed to get some, and I hung them on the enclosed back porch from the clothesline to dry completely,  some molded so they were composted.  The rest are hard to get off the head as that dries and becomes sharp, so you can’t do it with bare hands.  I’ve heard you can use a corona mill to shell them, but haven’t tried it yet.  Hull less  buckwheat is easy, grows in poorer soil, but have to harvest a few every day because it does not ripen evenly.  I use that to make lasagna noodles with no other flour.  

    Dent corn  is great for making cornbread, but deer like it too.  I save every bit of it, dry the cornsilk for tea, dry the husks and the cobs after shelling off the grain, for fire kindling.  I cut off leaves after the ears are mature, and dry for livestock fodder, for winter forage.  This is at 2300 feet elevation, Appalachian mountains and we get a lot of rain and very high humidity here and cool nights, even in summer.  

    Wish we could grow millet, but without a thresher would be impossible to winnow.  Made some killer pancakes yesterday with leftover cooked millet, half cottage cheese, eggs, roll into other flour to dry out enough to cook by sautéing in coconut oil.  
     
    pollinator
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    Faye Streiff wrote:  Need a good small manual thresher for the tiny amount we have.  




    Quick and easy threshing method for tiny amounts:

    You'll need a piece of cloth, the sturdier the better. It needs to be at least 8 inches wide and 3 feet long, although 1-foot by 5-feet would probably be better.

    Lay the cloth flat. Arrange the stuff you're threshing in a narrow (3inch or less) row lengthwise along the center, leaving 1 foot of space at each end of the cloth.

    Fold the cloth in half lengthwise. Starting at the fold, roll the cloth into a long, narrow tube, trapping the grainheads securely so they can't fall out.

    Now you need something smooth and pipe-shaped. Up to you what that is, but it will need to be fixed securely in place. It can be vertical or horizontal, doesn't matter. The diameter can be anywhere from 1 inch to 7 inches, although I find 2-3 inches to be a comfortable size.

    Hold the cloth so that one end is on either side of the pipe, and pull toward you. Use a sawing motion to pull alternating ends of the cloth, making sure that all the grainheads are involved. The idea is that brittle things, like the dry material the grainheads are made of, don't bend well. Rounded things, like the seeds, will roll with the bend instead of breaking. So, by forcing them to bend around a tight curve, over and over, the brittle stuff shatters and the seeds stay intact.

    This method works great for tiny amounts, but the cloth does wear out fast, so it's best for when you want to taste the grain first before deciding on more equipment.

    (I never know if I'm describing things accurately enough, so please ask if something's not clear.)
     
    Faye Streiff
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    That is such a great idea, will try it right away.  Thankyou for this invaluable information.
     
    Jan White
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    Faye Streiff wrote:

    Wish we could grow millet, but without a thresher would be impossible to winnow.    



    Faye, I've grown small amounts of pearl millet a couple times and it winnows just fine on a breezy day. I threshed it by shuffle dancing around on it in a bin. Some of the grain doesn't release well from the husk, but I think that's a problem that can be remedied by a few generations of seed selection. I'm working on it. The grain with husks can still be ground into flour just fine.

    Pearl millet is so tasty, I really hope more people try it out!
     
    Faye Streiff
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    Jan White wrote:

    Faye Streiff wrote:

    Wish we could grow millet, but without a thresher would be impossible to winnow.    



    Faye, I've grown small amounts of pearl millet a couple times and it winnows just fine on a breezy day. I threshed it by shuffle dancing around on it in a bin. Some of the grain doesn't release well from the husk, but I think that's a problem that can be remedied by a few generations of seed selection. I'm working on it. The grain with husks can still be ground into flour just fine.

    Pearl millet is so tasty, I really hope more people try it out!



    Jan,
    Thankyou for that information.  I can’t wait to try it.  Millet is one of our favorite grains.  
     
    pioneer
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    there is hull less barley.  bare barley

    I had birds eat my oil sunflowers one year.  so changing sunflowers for eating.
     
    Posts: 195
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    You could try corn and stick to nixtamalizing it as they have done for centuries to produce traditional flatbreads (Johnny cakes, tortillas, hoe cakes) and of course grits/polenta, cornmeal...

    I am sort of in this same dilemma and I think growing field corn is my choice in extreme Florida heat. Amaranth, it grows where it wants at this point in the garden, I mostly keep it for the leaves which in China are used as "spinach". the grain is definitely a hassle and I swear rodents around here love it more than anything they've ever had.

    I am just about to place a seed order which includes "Red Aztec spinach" which I think is going to be a winner, it is one of the first domesticated crops around, loves heat and should be very easy to grow. The seed is suitable for gruel and bread it says. I am hoping to naturalize it all around so I don't have to tend to it and always have a supply. Mexicans deep fry the flower buds it says as well.
     
    master steward
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    I was going to answer the question with corn on the cob though since you have these:

    Mike said, "The grains that I have available to sow are:
    Amaranth
    Quinoa
    Rice
    Millet
    Sunflower
    Sorghos



    Why not grow some of eat then let the forum know which was the easiest?
     
    Jeff Steez
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    Here's another thing that surprised me if you want something to enhance what else you grow... SESAME!

    I swear I planted a small sesame seed and it seemed like it grew a foot a day here in Florida and I didn't water it specifically once. The only thing in my entire garden I didn't have to water. It grew like a weed, it's a huge bush now basically 5-6 feet tall and just started making seed pods. The leaves smell amazing and can be used as well, it would be a great addition to flavor the breads or grains/pseudograins you choose.

    Other grains I have in my bins... Durum (which turns into semolina flour for pasta), you could grow beans for grinding into flour, lots of popular recipes are made of black bean flour these days, I also have teff whose seeds are microscopic. They eat the grain a lot in Africa, here the often feed the grass/hay part to horses, it's very nice.
     
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    I watched a wonderful video on the subject and the authority recommended buying a small amount of each that you’re interested in and just seeing what does well. At the end of the season, harvest and use all you can and save seeds for planting. His way was to just plant the grains together. One of the very thoughtful questions was about cross pollination affecting the end result and the guy was completely relaxed about it. He said that you weren’t required to have a name or a pedigree for something you’re growing to eat and that it will change over time and selection anyway. In this way you find out what you like to eat and what you can manage for your location. I’m not sure I would do so many all together but the take home for me was that the only requirement for me is if we like it.
     
    Posts: 9
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    I saw the original post.  I'm also in zone 8b with clay soil, though in Texas, so it's a lot hotter.  It is mid-August 2022, and this summer we have had temperatures of 100-106F  (38-41C) every day for the past two months and no rain.  Amaranth and sunflowers work even in this weather (but of course we planted them earlier).   We planted sorghum last year and it did well also.  We planted it early in the spring and gave it lots of extra water for the first few weeks.

    Here in most of eastern North America we have Lamb's Quarters chenopodium album), a native plant considered a weed, but it grows without any intervention and is both good for its greens and its grain.  The greens are comparable to spinach.  It is a close relative of Quinoa (chenopodium quinoa) and north american indigenous cultures actually used it as one of the staples in their diet.   All of that makes me think that quinoa would do ok, though perhaps it likes cooler summers as it's from the Andes.  Both Lamb's Quarters and Quinoa are related closely to Amaranth.

    Our corn burned up even though we watered daily.

    What's the video that Lexie Smith watched?
     
    gardener
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    Wheat need to be somewhat processed before being usable, and I'd like to avoid that.


    Now that you will be planning the winter garden reconsider the wheat which is a winter crop in your growing zone.  Try the wheat berries often sold in bulk for human food.  These are generally selected for ease of processing.  In my area soft white winter wheat is sold for animal feed and when it ripens threshes out with little effort.  My practice is to feed chickens whole grains in there movable pen through the garden and then pull or cut the resulting grain stalks and let them do the threshing to feed themselves.
     
    Lexie Smith
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    I’m not certain if this is the one but there are several different ones on the subject that might help you find answers. I think this one comes up on the 24th of this month. I have no affiliation with the owner or the guest, I’m just looking for the same answers as you.
    https://www.urbanfarm.org/event/grains-in-your-gardens-webinar/
     
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    Corn is so divergent in its many specialty types that planting three (or more!) varieties isn't redundant...


    https://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/painted-mountain-organic-flour-corn-680
     
    Mike Lafay
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    Jeff Steez wrote:You could try corn and stick to nixtamalizing it as they have done for centuries to produce traditional flatbreads (Johnny cakes, tortillas, hoe cakes) and of course grits/polenta, cornmeal...

    I am sort of in this same dilemma and I think growing field corn is my choice in extreme Florida heat. Amaranth, it grows where it wants at this point in the garden, I mostly keep it for the leaves which in China are used as "spinach". the grain is definitely a hassle and I swear rodents around here love it more than anything they've ever had.

    I am just about to place a seed order which includes "Red Aztec spinach" which I think is going to be a winner, it is one of the first domesticated crops around, loves heat and should be very easy to grow. The seed is suitable for gruel and bread it says. I am hoping to naturalize it all around so I don't have to tend to it and always have a supply. Mexicans deep fry the flower buds it says as well.



    I guess you only read the original post and are coming from the daily-ish: the reason I have not mentioned corn is the best one as mentioned in the replies: because it's already in the garden ! The "flowers" are starting to appear too.

    However I'm glad I'm not the only one who plan to try nixtamlization. As I have amaranths growing, I'll do it the traditional way: using ashes of their leaves. I'm growing grain amaranth though, so maybe it's not the best one for that purpose, but this way every part of the plant will be used.

    Anne Miller wrote:I was going to answer the question with corn on the cob though since you have these:

    Mike said, "The grains that I have available to sow are:
    Amaranth
    Quinoa
    Rice
    Millet
    Sunflower
    Sorghos



    Why not grow some of eat then let the forum know which was the easiest?



    Why not ? Because it's mid-summer already ! More seriously, I have three of those growing in the garden, as some late decision. The amaranths are getting pretty, the corn is flowering, and the sunflower are starting to form their flower. Next season, as I'm going to do bio-intensive more, I'll need to grow more carbon plants and so I'll probably try rye and barley too. Wheat will probably be there, the grains I have gives big stalks which are perfect for composting. I might try rice, sorghos, quinoa and millet, but it will depend on the grain already in the garden. Beside, I will try to use a few medicinal plants as carbon plant, as they gives quite a bit of biomass (milk thistle is one of those).

    Jeff Steez wrote:Here's another thing that surprised me if you want something to enhance what else you grow... SESAME!

    I swear I planted a small sesame seed and it seemed like it grew a foot a day here in Florida and I didn't water it specifically once. The only thing in my entire garden I didn't have to water. It grew like a weed, it's a huge bush now basically 5-6 feet tall and just started making seed pods. The leaves smell amazing and can be used as well, it would be a great addition to flavor the breads or grains/pseudograins you choose.

    Other grains I have in my bins... Durum (which turns into semolina flour for pasta), you could grow beans for grinding into flour, lots of popular recipes are made of black bean flour these days, I also have teff whose seeds are microscopic. They eat the grain a lot in Africa, here the often feed the grass/hay part to horses, it's very nice.



    I swear the day I have a thousand acres, it will still not be enough space. It seems like an awesome plant to try. From the information I'm finding, it seems that they have difficulty getting to seed in my climate, but that's not going to stop me. Beans are not grain so out of scope of the thread, but they might be interesting to try as flour. I knew about teff but never grew it, and I don't have seeds right now. Maybe one day, but it seems that are thousand kind of grain (without necessarily counting all the varieties...).

    Lexie Smith wrote:I watched a wonderful video on the subject and the authority recommended buying a small amount of each that you’re interested in and just seeing what does well. At the end of the season, harvest and use all you can and save seeds for planting. His way was to just plant the grains together. One of the very thoughtful questions was about cross pollination affecting the end result and the guy was completely relaxed about it. He said that you weren’t required to have a name or a pedigree for something you’re growing to eat and that it will change over time and selection anyway. In this way you find out what you like to eat and what you can manage for your location. I’m not sure I would do so many all together but the take home for me was that the only requirement for me is if we like it.



    I guess I'll try this the day I have a much bigger garden, as to see quickly what grow best and where.

    Howard Hawhee wrote:I saw the original post.  I'm also in zone 8b with clay soil, though in Texas, so it's a lot hotter.  It is mid-August 2022, and this summer we have had temperatures of 100-106F  (38-41C) every day for the past two months and no rain.  Amaranth and sunflowers work even in this weather (but of course we planted them earlier).   We planted sorghum last year and it did well also.  We planted it early in the spring and gave it lots of extra water for the first few weeks.

    Here in most of eastern North America we have Lamb's Quarters chenopodium album), a native plant considered a weed, but it grows without any intervention and is both good for its greens and its grain.  The greens are comparable to spinach.  It is a close relative of Quinoa (chenopodium quinoa) and north american indigenous cultures actually used it as one of the staples in their diet.   All of that makes me think that quinoa would do ok, though perhaps it likes cooler summers as it's from the Andes.  Both Lamb's Quarters and Quinoa are related closely to Amaranth.

    Our corn burned up even though we watered daily.

    What's the video that Lexie Smith watched?



    We have temperatures in this range in France too this summer; but we do have some rain and lower temperatures. As far as I know sorghum is from Africa, so it should handle the heat easily as most of their native grain.

    Hans Quistorff wrote:

    Wheat need to be somewhat processed before being usable, and I'd like to avoid that.


    Now that you will be planning the winter garden reconsider the wheat which is a winter crop in your growing zone.  Try the wheat berries often sold in bulk for human food.  These are generally selected for ease of processing.  In my area soft white winter wheat is sold for animal feed and when it ripens threshes out with little effort.  My practice is to feed chickens whole grains in there movable pen through the garden and then pull or cut the resulting grain stalks and let them do the threshing to feed themselves.



    Wheat will be there for the winter. Honestly I think I'm just going to accept the fact that it takes some work to process. I'll also try a few other winter grains, like barley and rye.

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