Island Grains
19Mar/110

Is it better to plant in the fall or in the spring?

If you plant in the fall, the grain will get a head-start before the chilly winter hits. This may result in a stronger plant and therefore a better yield at harvest time (approx. 20%). You also might be able to harvest a few weeks earlier (e.g. July/August instead of August/September).

IMPORTANT: Note that some cereal grains simply won't survive cold winter temperatures (e.g. oats, quinoa, amaranth), so must be planted in the spring.

19Mar/110

Are grain plants edible?

It's common to make juice from wheat grass (ideally around 14 days after germination), and the young leaves of amaranth and quinoa are both delicious and nutritious (calcium and iron). When the leaves get older, steam them to make them more palatable.

Filed under: amaranth, quinoa, wheat No Comments
19Mar/111

When should I harvest my grains?

Barley: late June, early July.

Wheat: August (fall-sown wheat and Kamut can usually be harvested in early August). To thresh, the seed kernels should be hard enough that you can't make an indent with your fingernail: if the grain is too soft, let it dry out in a greenhouse or a dry, hot place until it's ready.

Rye: July for fall-sown rye. We haven't tried planting rye in the spring for harvest so don't know how long it would take to mature.

Oats: July.

Flax: early August. Shake the stalks and you'll hear the seeds "jingle" in their spherical seedpods.

Buckwheat: late September.

Amaranth: "when the birds start pecking at your amaranth plants, it's time to harvest," says Dan Jason (i.e. late September). If you leave the seed on the plant too long, they will harden and it will be extremely difficult to thresh. Shake or rub the seed heads to loosen the seed into a bucket, then dry the seeds indoor on trays for at least one week. When they are rock hard, they are ready to thresh.

Quinoa: September/October. Feel the seed heads: if the seeds feel like hard balls, they're ready to harvest.

19Mar/110

How do I harvest grain?

For most grains, you can do it with scissors or pruning shears and a bucket: simply cut the seed head off the plant and put it in the bucket. Scythes and sickles work well too.

To thresh, the seed kernels should be hard enough that you can't make an indent with your fingernail: if the grain is too soft, let it dry out in a greenhouse or a dry, hot place until it's ready.

Amaranth: shake or rub the seed heads to loosen the seed into a bucket, then dry the seeds indoor on trays for at least one week. When the seeds are rock hard, they are ready to thresh.

Quinoa: cut the seed heads off and put them in a bucket or lie them on a tarp somewhere warm and dry until you get around to threshing them.