I’m not sure why but growing cereal crops in your backyard always sounds so ‘wrong’. Perhaps we are too used to scenes of combine harvesters moving across acres of golden wheat, when we may be better off contemplating how farmers in Japan still grow rice in the suburbs (this case in outer Kyoto).
So really there is no reason not to give cereal growing a try. Our thinking is that if your have space in your yard to grow potatoes you could try growing cereals as well or instead. According to an article on growing grains in he current issue of Organic Gardener magazine (Sept-Oct 2011) you need a 10 x15 metre plot to grow enough wheat to be self sufficient for a year (at 2kgs flour per week).
A few years back we grew some wheat. To be honest it was not a great success. We were probably too inconsistent with the watering and it was during the drought. Indeed our total output was probably enough to made a cake or a loaf of bread. However that hasn’t stopped TB from exploring further options with growing rice. Now before you get overly agitated about excess water use what we are growing is a ‘dry land’ strain of rice. The seed was easily obtained by buying a bag of organic brown rice from the local supermarket. Said bag of rice also noted that it was not grown with flood irrigation so we think we have made a reasonable choice. Another option is to grow paddy style rice in an old bathtub.
The rice grains didn’t take too long to sprout on their bed of wet paper towel.
And while our transplant method is clearly unsuitable for larger scale plantings,
at least the grains have continued to sprout.
The biggest drawback to growing rice in Canberra is, of course, the temperature. We are just not in the right climatic zone for this plant, not that that will stop us trying. TB expects to grow most of the crop in pots in the polyhouse and we will try some in the garden as well.
Our most regular grain crop is corn. Most years we grow sweet corn – Golden Bantam to eat fresh and to save some as dried corn for later use. We also grow popping corn, Blue Mini and Strawberry pop corn, which are quite amazing in colour.
Sadly when these varieties are popped they look just like any other popcorn. I’ve just planted some seeds of both Golden Bantam sweetcorn and also some Blue Mini popcorn to get us underway for this year.