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….
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.
And then it opened up.
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
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.
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.
Then I rolled the bag down tightly and started shaking it, even whacking it. Most of the wheat berries came out on their own.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve started a Facebook page for our farm, Never Free Farm. If you enjoy gardening & urban homesteading photos, or you are interested in acquiring rare & unusual plants next spring, come by 🙂