Gardening · Homesteading · Preserving · Urban Homesteading

Growing Wheat

So a story came out of a simple request from Walker. A certain little 6-year-old, this Spring, saw us transferring 25 pound bags of Soft White Wheat berries and wanted to know….could he plant them in his garden bed, and would they grow? Well, I had no clue. So we told him he could have any that fell on the floor. And off he went….

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Spring arrived. The little seeds sent up shoots, which then grew grass like. And then one day in early summer, it showed the first hint of wheat.

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And then it opened up.

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We ignored it, let it do its thing. A few bugs showed up, but lady bugs came and munched on them. The wheat grew in random bursts.

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Alistaire guarding the wheat and checking it out.

Now then, with it actually growing, I started searching how does one know when to harvest it? Turns out wheat is about the simplest thing to grow. It likes sad soil. It is OK without a ton of water. It likes heat. Harvest when it starts to turn tawny gold.

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Since we didn’t have a lot of plants, we just pulled them up by hand, rather than cutting. I processed them on the deck table, and using loppers cut off about 2/3 of the stalks. Then I left them in a dry/shady area on the table to dry out, for about a week. After that, I put them in a new brown paper bag and left them upside down inside for another week.

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Then I rolled the bag down tightly and started shaking it, even whacking it. Most of the wheat berries came out on their own.

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The ones that didn’t, I used my fingers to pull off the stalks, put in the bag and shook more. This separated the chaff (the covering) off of the wheat berries.

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To remove the chaff, place it all in a bowl and go outside. Using the breeze, your lungs, or in our case, a small fan run off the solar panels, use a gentle breeze to blow the chaff away. I picked up handfuls of the wheat and dropped it into the bowl, as the breeze blew it away. If I had more wheat, I would have used 2 bowls, and poured back and forth.

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Once done, we had wheat berries! I left them covered with a paper towel to dry out before storing in a glass mason jar. Store wheat tightly sealed, in a dark and dry area. For long-term storage, vacuum sealing, or storing in a freezer is optimum. We will be replanting the seed in a few weeks though, so I am not as concerned.

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This led to more thoughts…and to the big beds we want to put more in the ground. Fall crops, to build the soil. A little Wheat Growing 101 and more Wheat Growing became a huge help. In a few weeks from now, as I mentioned, we will be sowing one of our beds with wheat, and letting it winter over. Come spring, we will have wheat growing. Also another great post on it.

And I’ll add: 1 wheat berry planted, that grows, can produce 40 to 70, or more, depending on the environment. So just a few planted yields many! Walker’s experiment has led me to realize there is a place for wheat, even in urban gardens and homesteads.

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