Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Learning How to Grow My Daily Bread

In my book “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook” I talk a lot about both the successes and the failures I have experienced while trying to grow food. I’ve experienced lots of both and the failures are really, really important. In fact I think my gardening failures have provided me with the best learning experiences. For a few years I was “garlic challenged” and my crop of garlic never amounted to much. Then I clued in that I need to plant it in the fall and “bam!”, I’ve never looked back. In fact this year our 4,000 heads of garlic are one of the best crops we’ve ever had.

For years my raspberries have languished and never amounted to much. This year everything just clicked and I swear Michelle filled up half of our 10 cu. Ft. freezer with frozen raspberries. I was “over the moon” about them. Every time Michelle brought in another quart or two to freeze it was a little personal lift to make my day.

For a few years now I have been very grain “challenged”. We base a lot of our diet on bread and so learning to grow wheat has been a priority. I’ve had success with oats but wheat has been elusive. I would plant it in the spring and it just never seemed to ripen in time. I noticed though that if I left it over the winter it would start up early the next season and end up forming a proper head. So last fall I cleared two big areas of the garden and seeded “winter wheat”. Wheat is a grass and this means it was in the ground and could germinate in the cool wet soil it likes. Snow covered it during the winter, and then once the snow was gone it greened up and took off.

It’s been just a joy to watch. It grew quickly and vigorously and formed amazing heads. Over the summer the wheat has been maturing and turning a wonderful deep golden brown. Pictures of grain fields are iconic as are images of grain heads on everything from beer labels to bread bags. But until you actually have a patch of your own lush brown wheat you can’t imagine how wonderful it is. Since mine was grown organically the wheat “field” has lots of weeds in it. For a while the wheat was the highest thing growing in the patch, but now some of the weeds have won out. But that’s okay because it was time to start harvesting so the weeds will be gone soon anyway.

Read More at Mother Earth News Learning How to Grow My Daily Bread

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