Learning how to grow wheat is not as difficult as many would-be grain growers think. And a plot of about 20 by 50 feet (6 by 15 m) should provide plenty for the entire year for a typical family of four.
There are two types of wheat: winter wheat which has higher yields and spring wheat which is easier to grow in drier regions. Instructions for growing each is included below…
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Both winter and spring wheat require full sun and prefer growing temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees F (21 to 24 C). Each should also be watered sparingly, as water can lead to numerous diseases.
To plant either kind of wheat, broadcast seeds over a seed-ready bed (well-composted, well-drained, proper temperatures, good moisture, etc.) - about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of wheat seeds for a 20 by 50 foot (6 by 15 m) plot – then cover seeds with a couple inches (5 cm) of soil by raking or tilling. Finally, spread a few inches of straw mulch over your seeds.
The timing of your planting is critical and will differ for each type of wheat…
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Wheat doesn’t require too much work after planting.
You’ll need to water spring wheat if your area goes through a dry spell, but winter wheat may not need to be watered at all. When you do water, don’t overdo it.
Wheat is also a dominant grower, meaning that it will likely crowd out any weeds that come along.
You’ll know wheat harvest time is close when your wheat stalks start to turn brown and the grain heads begin to bend over.
Test them by pinching a grain head between your fingers or teeth. If the grain heads are firm but have a little give, they’re ready. If they’re still soft, they need more time. Check them daily after the initial signs appear.
To harvest your wheat, it’s easiest when donning your grim reaper costume…well, at least the scythe, anyway. Using your scythe or a sickle, chop the stalks off at the base, stack them grain-seeds-facing-up and leave them outside for a couple of weeks in a covered area to dry. The kernels are ready when they crunch between your teeth.
Now it’s time to separate the seeds from the stalks, also called ‘threshing’. To do so, simply lay down a sheet on a hard surface, lay out the stalks on the sheet and start beating the you-know-what out of the seed heads with whatever you’d like. A shovel or rubber hose will do the trick.
You can also bundle the stalks up so that the open end of the sheet is around the bottom of the stalks’ stems. Then slam the seed heads onto the ground repeatedly until all of the grains come loose.
When you’ve got your seeds separated, it’s time to remove any excess ‘non-seed’ parts, also called ‘winnowing’. To winnow your seeds, pour them from one bucket to another in front of a fan. Spare parts will blow away while the seeds fall from bucket to bucket.
Store wheat in a cool, dry and dark place, preferably in a sealed container to keep the bugs out. Ideally, put your seeds in a sealable container, then elevate off of the floor with boards to allow adequate air circulation.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Wheat. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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