small scale grain growing

sallymoleFebruary 23, 2003

I'm interested in putting in a grain garden, about 25 x 30 feet, with six 5'x25' rows -- wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, flax. I'm director of a small historical museum, and I find that kids don't know what grains are or where they come from. Who knows where to buy the seed in small quantities. Has anyone grown these grains in small quantities? Do you know of any good books about it?

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The easiest way to buy wheat, rye, and corn - if you don't care about knowing the variety - is in small quantities from the health food store or co-op supplier. I don't know whether food-grade barley will grow out, I havn't tried it - or flax either. Oats of course, you have to get whole in the husk, a dairy farmer who raises his own oats will have that.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2003 at 8:21AM
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hengal(z5 / IN)

Sallymole -

I bought some small quantities of different grains this year from Territorial Seed Co. I didn't want a huge amount either to start with as I am planting them for use in my crafts. Check out their website

    Bookmark   February 24, 2003 at 8:41AM
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Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)

I know a family in Louisiana that has a half acre of wheat (mostly for historic interest). Contact any Mormon church (also know as the Church of Latter Day Saints) for info on seed sources. They do this regularly, I think. I have been thinking about doing something like this a lot lately. What if terrorists pollute our nation's wheat crop? I'm not paranoid or anything, but I think it's just a good idea to be prepared. A disease could wipe out the crop. What would we do for bread? I THINK the Dept of Homeland Security would do us all a good service if they revived the concept of "Victory Gardens" from WWI. Okay, no one is going to like this idea because it means WORK. Those of us who love gardening are the only ones who'll do it, and everyone else will gripe. And probably come steal our food crops. -- Marie

    Bookmark   February 25, 2003 at 4:50PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

I grow out about a dozen mostly traditional grains with a few modern cultivars for comparison. I plant enough for seed saving purposes, some for swapping, and sometimes to eat.

Can you find out what grain varieties were grown during your specific historical period? Some may still be available in various conservation projects. Be sure to select corn varieties adapted to your day length and length of growing season. Check with Amerind tribal resources from Quebec and northern New England.

Bountiful Gardens in northern California also offers grain seed for sale and features rarer grains (mostly barleys and wheats) and features varieties conserved by the KUSA Research Seed Foundation of Ojai, CA.

I can send you small quantities of grains that do well for me in this part of the world (semiarid nearly subtropical).
My varieties might not be suited to your bioregion. But if you just want your students and visitors to see growing grains, most will serve. I recommend starting the seed in flats a month before the ground thaws and then transplant out (6 inches apart in rows 12-14 inches apart for most small grains.) Anyway, email me if you are interested. Most grains are fall-planted but some can put out a crop with early spring plantings.

Marie, those were Liberty Gardens in WW I, Victory Gardens in WWII. I remember growing English peas, beets and yellow wax beans during the later years of the second war.

Marie, sorry to read the note of panic in your post. If some of our grains were infected, we would purchase grain from world markets, just as most countries do now. Given our national wealth, we shouldn't have much problem competing for available grains. Also, many of us do not have the climate, land and expertise to grow enough grains to meet our family needs, much less make the flour for breads we are used to eating. Can't remember seeing a gristmill in my location either. Better that we should grow other vegetables and fruit.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 7:21PM
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nettle(z8 Vancouver BC)

check out salt spring seeds (google it), they are fabulous for all kinds of grains, beans, and other heritage crops. or how about contacting seed savers or seeds of diversity, to obtain seed but also historical info on the seed and its use, harvest methods, etc...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2003 at 1:26AM
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GO to the feed store and see if they sell whole grain or buy some wheat or oat staw theres always some grain left on the seed heads.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2003 at 6:53AM
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My husband purchased 900lbs. of wheat last summer. He froze it for a week, bought galvanized trash cans, plastic liners from US plastics, and oxygen absorbers. He let the wheat dry out COMPLETELY after he took it out of the freezer, sealed it with a food saver sealer, and put 2 layers of duct tape (handy stuff aint it?) all around the lid. It's sitting on patio blocks in our basement; he's worried about India/Pakistan and N. Korea. Fallout knows no boundaries. He's planning on doing the same to corn this fall (much cheaper). Wheat went for $6.00 for 50 lbs.; and corn should go no higher than $4.oo a bag. He's planted buckwheat and oats; second crop of buckwheat he intends to harvest. First crop for green manure. He's trying to talk me into bucketing up beans and rice; I told him I'll let him use up basement space in the northwest room but he's on his own. Since then, he has bucketed (with mylar from Waltons's feed) 60 lbs. of salt, l20 lbs. of pancake mix (only add water to it), and 4 buckets of soap @ 75 bars a bucket. Whatever makes him happy--but it HAS to fit ONLY in that one room. For Christmas he bought us all shake flashlight each that don't use batteries, heavy-duty sleeping bags, and 4 8lb. heavy duty water containers from WalMart. I think this is addictive; his buddies are converting and I'm not altogether too popular with their wives....

    Bookmark   April 14, 2003 at 2:08PM
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paul98037(WA7Puget Sound)

Okay, I have buckwheat. How do I hull buckwheat.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 3:55PM
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Bountiful Gardens has hulless oats and barley if anyone is interested in susenance gardening. Would be a good place to get small amt. of grains.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 12:18PM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

Gene Logsdon once wrote a book on growing small grains in garden quantities. It's out of print now but copies can be found. Recommended.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 8:17AM
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cherig22(MO 6a/6b)

If you are interested, I have some Hopi Blue Corn that I can send you. It may not be of the time period but it might be nice for them to see blue corn, lol. Email me if you want some.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 7:09PM
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Marie & Marshall -- We do not have to worry about foreign terrorists polluting our seeds. Monsanto and other American industrial agriculture corporations are already doing it, with their genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If they succeed in their grand plan it will eventually be illegal for anyone to grow food with saved seeds. It already is illegal for some crops in certain states. Monsanto has even developed a killer gene which they call the "Terminator gene". This gene modification causes the modified seeds to be incapable of growth in the next season. The result is that farmers, and ultimately we gardeners, will be forced to buy new seed in each season. If you do not believe this could be happening, just Google on "Monsanto's killer gene".

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 9:09PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Monsantos killer gene only affects plants it is in. It is a way for them to prevent there GM crops from escaping. I am actually really glad you pointed it out, it actually erases the last of my concern about monsanto. Now you cannot accidentally grow monsanto crops, if a monsanto crop is planted near yours you will have reduced seed viability, but you will not have any more issues with accidentally growing a GMO and stepping on monsanto's rights.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 9:30PM
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Gene Logdon's book on small scale grain growing is available now on Its been reprinted because of the interest in small scale farming and gardening. If you want to garden or have a small farm (i.e. 30'X100' space for grain that will feed your family for a year) you've got to get the book for your library reference section.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:14AM
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This is an old post, but there may still be some interest in it, seeing where the prices have gone on the commodities market and the fall of the dollar. Many seed companies in addition to those listed offer small quatities of grains--Johnny's and Peaceful Valley ( both offer a number of varieties. As usual, Brendan was wrong about Monsanto--the Terminator gene has shown some ability to spread by pollen, making seeds in adjacent or nearby fields sterile. He is right when he implies that they will probably sue you for "stealing" their genetic property. The government is trying to control the food supply, so don't expect assistance from them in being self-sufficient. That is the last thing they really want, despite what is on or whatever the website is now. Good luck on you grain projects, and try some unusual grain like Amaranth, Quinoa, and Spelt.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 1:49PM
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On the topic of small scale grain growing, can someone tell me how many square feet I would expect to use when broadcasting hulless oats and wheat? On a whim I decided to grow some this year and I realized I'm not sure how much room they are going to require.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 8:29PM
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sorry, I should have specified that I purchased 2 oz. of each hulless oats & spring wheat.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 8:42PM
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