Island Grains

How to Grow Grains

(On a Small Scale)

With input from: Dan Jason, Robert Giardino, Tom Henry, Mike Doehnel, Helen Reid, and Gene Logsdon (via his excellent book, Small-Scale Grain Raising).

Grain is practically the easiest thing you can grow: "if you can grow grass, you can grow grain," says Gene Logsdon. The most difficult part is usually the threshing (the separation of the edible grain seed from the rest of the plant), since small-scale growers don't produce enough to justify investing in a commercial threshing machine.

We will continue to revise and add to this page as our own knowledge increases: we hope to provide a central resource for anyone interested in backyard grain growing. If you have a question that is not answered on this website, please post it below and we will try to find the information.


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  1. Hi,

    Love your web-site. You have been very generous in sharing your knowledge. I’m a green horn who would like to give wheat growing a try.

    A few quick questions:

    How many seed packages would one need (ex. from Salt Spring seeds) to plant 1100 sq feet of red fife wheat? Is this the same number of packages for other wheat varieties?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Michelle Harris

    • Hi Michelle,

      I think I’ve found your answer … Gene Logsdon’s Small-Scale Grain Raising says that 100 lbs of wheat seed will plant an acre (page 261 of the 2nd edition). 1,100 sq.ft. is roughly 1/40 of an acre, so you would need 2.5lbs to plant 1,100 sq.ft.

      Salt Spring Seeds sells seed packets with 1 oz (28g) of grain seed …. so if 16 packets (16 oz) = 1lb, you’ll need 40 packets to have 2.5 lbs of wheat seed.

      As for whether the math works for other wheat varieties — I assume so. The books I’ve read don’t differentiate among the varieties.

      Hope that helps! Brock started with 1 packet of Salt Spring Seeds’ faust barley years ago, and grew that out very quickly into 10lbs or more last year. So if you have the patience, a few starter packs can go a long way.

      Thank you for asking your question! Good luck growing this season,
      Heather

      • Michelle,
        How did the planting go?
        This fall I had two packets of Red Lammas winter wheat to seed in the garden, about 1 fluid oz. each packet.
        I didn’t really know how much area they would cover. I figured one or two rows about 24 feet long.
        I carefully placed 3 to 4 seeds every 4 or 5 inches apart, and then trenched another row 10 inches away.
        I ended up with four rows and by that point I was less about the zen and more about getting rid of seed into the dirt. Doubling back and adding extra here and there.
        So I agree with Heather, 2.5 lbs will seed 1100 square feet, but so will about 8 ounces.

        Regards,
        Lawrence

  2. Most likely a stupid question but would you think it at all possible to grow in doors? like herbs? I am new to this whole thing and have no clue at all.

    • Hi Dale,
      good question! I think it’s doable. Why don’t you try it, and let us know how it goes?
      Red Fife wheat and rye are probably too tall for indoor growing (5-9 feet), but buckwheat, oats or other wheat varieties would be an interesting experiment.
      Quinoa likes heat and is pretty …. although it can grow to 5-6 feet too….
      Happy experimenting,
      Heather


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