Growing Wheat in the Burbs

This past spring I decided to grow wheat. It was pretty easy and fun.
Why would I want to grow wheat? I did it for a few reasons: One, I just can’t help myself from being different and decided I would grow outside of the box. Two, I think it’s important that we know where our food comes from and how it’s grown. It was a fun learning experience. 
I started this project in very early spring when we were still having light frosts. I purchased a pound of these seeds. Like standard practice (yuck), I first started by tilling my 18X4 ft area. (no more tilling for me!) Then I purchased a truck load of compost to the three beds I was building. I made my little rows, dropped in the seeds, and covered with about half an inch of soil. Then I watered about once a week and spent a lot of time pulling weeds. Clearly, it wasn’t enough by the bottom right photo. It died by itself at the end of summer (not by me not watering). I decided it was time to harvest when the birds were going crazy for it.  Instead of pulling out the wheat, I cut it at bottom. This way, the roots will decompose to become food and I returned the straw to the garden as mulch. By this time, I was learning a few things about permaculture and natural gardening. I ended up with about 30 gallons of seed without hulling it. You can bet it was too much work for me to hull it. I’m not sure I would have gotten one cup of flour.

I don’t think I will ever look at a piece of bread the same again. It really put things into perspective just how much wheat is necessary to grow for just a loaf. 

That was last spring, and this year is the year of the forest garden build. The point of the story is I’m growing it again this year. Of course, not in the same way. This year I’m growing it for mulch and seed storage. It’s growing among the fruit trees and annuals. 
My conclusion of it all was that it’s not a productive crop to grow grain in general for food. Does this make grains unsustainable? Just a thought running through my head…

credits & resources: photos from Jamie at A CITY GIRL //  growing wheat research: this video & this video // Valerie Herrmann

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