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Okra and lots more to come! Notice the cut stems on the plant.
This is where previous okra pods were harvested.  I never
thought about how an okra grows until now, but it appears to
continue to grow inch by inch taller and at new inch it yields
a pod. I wonder how it knows when to stop growing?

THE GREAT OKRA EXPERIMENT CONTINUES .  .  .

Last fall, in one of my  expansive moments, I had the brainstorm of giving 10 people four five-gallon buckets, and okra seeds from okra grown in 2021 at the Garland Community Garden.  The people were to keep track of their.yields in 2022 and  then report.  At the time, I  had no idea if  an okra would grow in a five-gallon bucket.  Well, there were no takers for this urban farming experiment.  I guess folks were too busy working two jobs and answering all those spam calls we get these days.  I planted Okra transplants in mid-May of this year (2022).  I've also planted seed and transplants recently for my fall garden; however, this okra planted in mid-May  is still blooming and producing.

I don't work two jobs, but I do spend a lot of time declining spam calls and I'm a standing member in the good intentions club.  Thus, to my dismay, Charlie and I had been harvesting okra pods from our 6 five gallon pots and buckets for about 3 weeks when I realized that I was not keeping track of the pounds.  Then a few days ago, I realized we could count the notches on each of the six pots and get the total number of pods that have been harvested.  Then we could weigh an average sized pod (1 oz) and multiply by the total number of Okra for the total weight in ounces. (Divide that number by 16 for the total number of pounds.). 

Okra growing in an antique five gallon tin can. Thus
far, like all our Okra, this plant is Clemson Spineless
and thus far this season has produced 60 pods, about
four pounds of Okra.


I found that our okra, Clemson Spineless variety, was amazingly consistent with 60 pods per plant so far, and as you can see from the photo above, more to come.  I checked to see the price of Okra today  and Walmart has it for $2.98 for 12 ounces.  To date, we have grown 360 ounces.   Divide that by 12 ounces and you get 30 packages at $2.98 each.  Thus far, we have grown $87,80 worth of Okra (at todays market value).

Okra, If you like it, is a great vegetable to grow in urban areas in Texas.  1. It loves the heat. (although because you are growing in a pot, you need to water it daily and feed it a little compost once a week) 2. It is cheap.  soil; okra seeds (get them from a friend)*. 3. Even if you only have the limited space of a patio or deck you still have room for an Okra Urban garden.  4. Fresh Okra doesn't keep well for long, only a few days; however, it is easily frozen for later use.

The Okra shown in this photo is also from my front yard.
It was not included in the experiment.  It is a smaller variety
than the Clemson Spineless and is red Okra while the
Clemson is green. Oddly this variety was also consistent in
its output too.  So far each pot has yielded 20 pods per plant
with more to come.
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IF YOU HURRY,  YOU CAN HAVE A FALL OKRA URBAN GARDEN!

For best yields, plant okra in the spring season two-to-three weeks after all danger of frost has passed. For a good fall crop, plant at least three months (around the first part of August) before the first fall frost which can be as early as October 31st.

*We will have okra pods at the Garland Community Garden in September when we have our Little Seed Library."

REMEMBER TO DRILL HOLES IN YOUR BUCKET!
Potted plants need good drainage to stay healthy.

 

 

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Aug 3 @ 1:49 pm

 

EDIBLE WEEDS

Sometimes it takes a long time for an idea to manifest into reality.  And so it is with a brainstorm I had several years ago—create a bed filled with edible weeds at the Garland Community Garden.  The idea manifested into reality today but not in a garden bed.  Instead, the vision is scaled down to a garden pot and there is only one pot with one weed at the moment.

Yesterday, while planting beets as part of our fall/winter garden, I noted there were several very healthy Purslane plants in the bed I was preparing for beet planting.  I gently pulled out about five of them and transplanted them into a 2-gallon garden pot.  So far, so good. Today it looks like they survived the trauma of being uprooted.

Purslane (The plant’s scientific name is Portulaca oleracea.  Purslane alsocalled little hogweed, pusley and fatweed.) Purslane is best known to most of the world as a weed, but it is an edible and highly nutritious vegetable that is loaded with all kinds of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. It grows all over the world, including North Texas—in gardens and even sidewalk cracks.

It contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA and EPA. ALA is found in many plants, but EPA is found mostly in animal products (like fatty fish) and algae. Compared to other greens, it is exceptionally high in ALA. According to the NIH Library of Medicine, Purslane contains 5-7 times more ALA than spinach.

This “weed” is also loaded with antioxidants (Vitamins C, E, A, Glutathione, Melatonin). Purslane also is high in important Minerals:  Potassium which helps regulate blood pressure; magnesium which may protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes; and calcium.

According to PubMed Central (a trusted NIH database) Purslane also contains high amounts oxalates which may be an issue for people who tend to develop kidney stones as oxalates can contribute to their formation.  Science Direct report that combining Yoghurt or coconut with Purslane significantly reduces the soluble oxalate content of Purslane leaves from 53% to 10%.

Also, according to another article in the NIH Library of Medicine: “Portulaca oleracea possesses a wide spectrum of pharmacological properties such as neuroprotective, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcerogenic, and anticancer activities.”

PS:  IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW TO PREPARE PURSLANE-- in addition to washing it off and popping it into your mouth, there are all kinds of recipes for Purslane on the Internet.  Just Google "Purslane Recipes".  I did and got back About 1,920,000 results  

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Fried Insects are already available as street food in Germany 
By Wilhelm Thomas Fiege / insektenwirtschaft.de - Own work
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65265722

There's been a strange push lately to get people to eat bugs. Bill Gates has talked about it many times on social media, and many news outlets have attempted to convince people that it's completely normal to munch on crickets.  Nicole Kidman is among the latest in the attempt to normalize eating bugs. She sat down for a segment with Vanity Fair in which she was served a four-course meal of bugs, many of which were still alive. [By the way, eating live bugs is not recommended as you could get a parasite.  All the experts I read advised to cook the bugs thoroughly.]

First let’s address the conspiracy theories surrounding this. Conspiracy theories abound in today’s world—in fact, so much so that we have conspiracy theories about concept of conspiracy theories. Some say those who label other people’s opinions “conspiracy theories” are propagandists whose goal it is to discredit the truth for their personal gain. I prefer instead to call what some might label as “conspiracy theory” merely an opinion that some, often those in power, disagree with. In fact, over the past 10 years many stories, once labeled “conspiracy theory” by the media have been proven to be true.

It is no surprise that conspiracy theories abound concerning the issue of the very real push in the media to normalize the idea of bugs for food in our western culture.  By the way, this push by the media and the Establishment is very real. You can verify for yourself by searching on the Internet.  I found examples of it that go back as far as 2012—ten years ago.  When I searched “push to normalize eating bugs”, I got 5,620,000 results. Some people are saying, for example, that the rich will be forcing the poor to eat. insects while they (the rich) eat prime rib. If you look at the price of the few insect food products on the market today, you can easily see the fallacy of that. Some rich folks may not even be able to afford this cuisine, much less the poor.  For example, a 5 oz. bag of Chirps Cricket Protein chips sells for $17.99.   At Walmart you can purchase ten 1oz packages of Lays classic potato chips for $4.99.  Ten ounces of a snack for $4.99 or a 5oz snack for $17.99?   The market for this new cuisine is most definitely the rich.


1. EATING INSECTS IS NORMAL IN OTHER CULTURES—2 BILLION HUMAN BEINGS EAT INSECTS EVERY DAY

First of all, according to the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates, every day about one third of the Earth's population, or more than 2 billion people, eat insects.

 

2.  THERE IS A GREATER AVAILABILITY OF INSECTS TO ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE OF EDIBLE PROTEIN

Estimates of numbers of edible insect species consumed globally range from 1,000 to 2,000. These species include 235 butterflies and moths, 344 beetles, 313 ants, bees and wasps, 239 grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches, 39 termites, and 20 dragonflies, as well as cicadas. 

 

3. EATING INSECTS INSTEAD OF MEAT COULD GREATLY HELP TO SAVE OUR PLANET FROM ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION.

Agriculture is the top source of worldwide deforestation (40%), and among the top commodity-drivers of deforestation, beef holds the first place. Overall, beef is responsible for 36% of all agriculture-linked forest-replacement. It is estimated that for each pound of beef produced, 200 square feet of rainforest are destroyed,

Cows produce 100x the Greenhouse gas emissions of crickets. Cows eat 10 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of meat. Crickets only eat 1.7 pounds.

Insects are far more environmentally sustainable to raise and harvest.  For example, one pound of cricket protein and be produced with just one gallon of water, while the same amount of protein can be made with about 2000 gallons of water from beef. 

Approximately one third of the world’s cereal production is fed to animals. Think about the huge impact it would have if most of that was used for feeding people, instead. Also, insects have less waste: 80 percent of the body is considered edible compared to 40 percent for beef. Because of all this, insects tend to have a better “feed to food” conversion efficiency ratio than livestock. There are many other benefits to be gained for the planet and humanity for choosing insects as your choice of protein. 

 

4. INSECTS ARE MORE PROTEIN EFFICIENT THAN BEEF OR OTHER MEAT

Farm-raised crickets, for example, contain double the amount of protein in chicken, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.

 

INDUSTRIALIZATION OF INSECTS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION IS STILL IN ITS INFANCY

Checks and balances need to be established to ensure native species are not over-harvested, thus upsetting a natural balance that has taken millions of years to achieve.

Also, eating insects is not for everyone as eating bugs could trigger allergic reactions in some people. According to several sources, those with an allergy to crab, lobster or shrimp should steer clear of foods containing insects. 

But things are moving forward.  In May of 2021, a European Union panel voted to approve the sale of an insect-based food for humans for the first time in the union’s history. The French company Agronutris had put in the application to sell dried yellow mealworm, a maggot-like organism “ said to taste a lot like peanuts”  when dried; with EU regulatory approval, the company hopes to sell the mealworm as a flour-like powder.

One of the early efforts in the USA has been funded by Mark Cuban.  The product is called Chirps chips. The chips are a line of high-protein snacks made from cricket flour. The other ingredients include corn, beans, and chia seed.

 Chips made with flour milled from crickets priced at $17.99 fir five ounces.

 

CONCLUSION AND SPECULATIONS

If you ate the bugs that showed up in your garden, there would be no need for pesticides* (and as a gardener, think of the satisfaction that might come with eating them—revenge, not to mention the last word with them).  However, I’m not advocating eating raw bugs. Applying high heat, such as baking or boiling, is the only way to ensure there are no parasites on the insects.

I doubt that I will ever be the person who pops a whole chocolate grasshopper into her mouth.  That is far too close to the source for my comfort.  I will likely be the coward who eats food products such as Chirps Chips which is made with cricket flour [provided they bring their prices down from the ionosphere.]  Still and yet, this is food that has been highly processed, so it comes with all the same negatives as any processed food.

Setting aside my mistrust of our government, the media and celebrities such as Bill Gates and Nicole Kidman (both of whom are cheerleaders for insect cuisine) and neither of whom I trust; and regardless how disgusting and repugnant the idea of eating insects is to me, I’ve decided that eating insects instead of steaks and pork chops is a worthy undertaking.  [Although I likely won’t start doing this tomorrow.]

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*Note if you are an avid gardener who visits the garden at least once a day, there is no need for pesticides--just kill them with your bare hands and don't forget to put a notch in your belt..

 

 

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Jul 26 @ 2:28 pm
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Libraries are great places where knowledge is stored and shared with communities.  In the past few years the concept of library has been expanded.  We now have free little libraries all over most of our cities. People build them and put them up in their yard. I know of  at least three right here in Garland.    Typically, they look like the photo above.  However, the one we have at the Garland Community Garden is unique.  It was donated by the folks in the nearby Flamingo neighborhood. It was crafted from a metal box that once dispensed newspapers. The concept is a 24/7 library right in your neighborhood where you can come and get books and also leave books that you have enjoyed. One of the principles of the Little Free Library is that by providing greater, more equitable book access in neighborhoods worldwide, we can strengthen communities and influence literacy outcomes.  Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota.Their mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.  There are over 150,000 little free libraries all over the world.

BOOKS ARE GOOD TO SHARE AND HERE ARE THREE LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES THAT SHARE OTHER THINGS:

1.  SEED LIBRARY

Audrey Barbakoff and other members of her community wanted a place for people to share and donate vegetable, flower and herb seeds.  Barbakoff who works as a librarian on Bainbridge Island, Washington,  thought that the public library was the perfect place to house a seed library.  In 2014 the group and the library staff teamed up to build a seed shed right behind the Bainbridge Branch Library.  Residents bring their seeds to the library and the staff organize, label and store them in the shed where people are free to take what they need.  According to Audrey, the seed library is sustainable in all ways because it encourages people to grow locally and connect with what they eat.  It's socially sustainable because people are coming together to pool resources.  Borrowing something is also economically sustainable. 

 

2.  LITTLE FREE FOOD PANTRIES

Darla Bradish, a property manager in Bremerton, Washington heard about the Little Free Library movement and imagined a similar concept, but with food.  It's hard for some seniors to get to food banks so why not make food available in neighborhoods she thought.  She got her program, 'Kitsap Neighborhood Little Free Pantries" by her county public health department She then created a Go Fund Me account and a Facebook page to solicit donations and volunteers.  The success of her project led to the local corrections department offering to build her more pantry boxes.

 

3. TOOL LIBRARIES

Liz Matthews loves taking on do it yourself home improvement projects but doesn't like buying tools and only using them once. She turned to her neighbors and decided that everyone could save a lot of time and money if they shared tools.  She created a Facebook group where 400 of her neighbors exchange tools such as drills, weed whackers, pressure washers and more.  "Not only have I found every tool I've ever needed, but I've also been able to share with others and meet some new lifelong friends," she says.  "It encourages safety and pride in our 'hood, and that's what this is really all about."

 

I think I will build a seed library for the Garland Community Garden this fall. 

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100+ Temperatures and Thinking Fall Garden?

Yep!  I am!

All the garden books I read tell North Texas gardeners to start planting seeds for your fall garden now.

A week ago I planted cantaloupe, Kombucha squash and spaghetti squash seeds.  I also bought some seeds for butternut squash.

Although I like to eat them, I gave up trying to grow yellow and other summer squash types because the squash bugs get them before they are even fully mature. Summer squash is characterized as being soft-skinned, making it more tender and moist overall and likely more attractive to pests. In contrast, winter squash is considered to be more hard-shelled, making it ideal for storing throughout the cold months (hence why it's called winter squash).

Kombucha, a small round squash, about the size of a cantaloupe, is delicious and my favorite.  It has the deep orange color of a pumpkin but tastes closer to a combination of a pumpkin and a sweet potato.  Like most winter squash, its rind is hard. Kombucha is also hard to find in the grocery store and tends to be pricey.  Usually you can only find them in the expensives stores and only around Thanksgiving.  Spaghetti and Butternut squash also belong to the category of winter squash.  This squash seems to be more resistant to insects than the summer squash, however, it tends to like cooler weather and that presents a challenge.  I planted it a week ago at the same time I planted the cantaloupe and spaghetti squash seeds but it took 4 days longer to germinate.  The Spaghetti squash and cantaloupe germinated in only 3 days.

Above are the Kombucha seedlings.  I didn't know what to expect as these seeds were from 2019.from a squash I had grown from Baker Creek seeds. but they germinated just fine--almost every seed I planted.  Whenever you can, it is best to use seeds from healthy plants that were grown in the area where you live because those plants have a proven track reord for being compatible with your climate.

Spaghetti squash already has seedlings that have the beginning of their true leaves.  I'll dig them out one by one with a spoon and transplant to individual containers that I'll put in trays for easier management--transferring them from early morning sun (until about 11 am) and evening from 6 PM to dark. until late August when I'll transplant them into the garden.

Above is the cantaloupe.  I'll transfer them to the garden the first of August as they are more heat tolerant.

BABYING. YOUR PLANTS DURING THE HEAT

Ideally in 100+ heat most vegetable plants need to be watered twice a day--in the early morning and evening. Tender new plants and seedlings need to be protected through the hottest part of the day with a shade covering.  For small tomato plants it' s easy:  Put a tomato cage over the plant and cut up an old sheet to drape over the cage from about 11 AM to 5PM daily.  Use large safety pins or clothes pins to attach the cloth to the tomato cage.

Above is the set-up for my three pots of seedlings;  Four tomato cages support a twin bed size sheet (one on each side of the two end pots).  I use clothes pins to attach the sheet to the top of the cages.  You want to make sure the cloth is at least a foot to 18 inches above the plants so as to ensure good air circulation.  You don't want to create a hot box for the plants.

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If you want to put transplants in your garden now, two of your safest bets for survival are okra, cantaloupe, and peppers.

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STEALING IS STEALING

Whether from a Grocery Store or a Community Garden

“Community” in the Garden refers to the community of the people who garden there--the ones who actually grow and take care of the plants--not the general public at large. Even members of the garden do not harvest from the plots of others.

The Garland Community Garden is there for the general public to enjoy and learn from observation--a peaceful and lovely place to visit.  It is not there for the public to harvest the produce grown by the hard work of others.

The photo below is of a curly leaf Kale plant at the Garland Community Garden. Two days ago, it was a full and healthy plant. When kale is harvested, the gardener takes no more than 20% of the leaves from the bottom layer of the plant.  The thief who chopped the leaves off this plant took about 90% of all its leaves.  This puts the plant in severe stress and it likely will not survive.  Even if it does, it will never be as healthy or productive as it once was.  Curly leafed kale, if well-cared for can last for two years and produce lots of kale for many meals.  This kale plant was only 6 months old.  It was not the only kale plant that was stolen from.  Another plant had about 50% of its leaves stolen and yet a third kale plant had about 30% of its leaves stolen.

As a result of this severe theft, we have decided to install surveillance cameras in the garden. Any videos of theft in action will be published for all to see--including the thieves’ friends and possible employers.  The video will be identified for what it is--a theft in action. 

Yes, food is expensive. Yes, there are many among us who are poor.  We have food banks in our community to assist the poor and down on their luck such as the Good Samaritans of Garland--an organization that we donate 50% of our produce to.  The Garland Community Garden is not set up to serve as a “come and pick our produce”.  It is set up to serve as peaceful place to visit and also as a demonstration garden to show the public plants that grow well in our area.  We are not set up for production for the public consumption.  Those who come and harvest from our garden, as did the kale thief are vandals who destroy the beauty of the garden.

 

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Perhaps if we put more emphasis on working together and sharing instead of competition, we might all be better off.

In addition, we might want to rethink our current corporate agriculture system.  I think about that more these days when I shop at the grocery store and see the soaring prices of food.

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We have many versions of  Saint Fiacre, the Patron Saint of Gardeners--people who do good for our Garland Community Garden and for our community.  Some, like the countless citizens who leave fertilizer, plants, tools and other garden goodies at the garden, we may never know.   We just show up at the garden and lo and behold--presents that we can use to make the garden better have been left in our absence.


This morning when Jane Stroud delivered 23 one-gallon bags of greens from the Garden to Good Samaritans of Garland, she noticed in the book where people record their donations that just before us someone had donated 81 pounds in the name of Loving Garland Green.  We have no idea who this person is, but one of the volunteers at Good Sam’s said he is a man who donates regularly as Loving Garland Green.

 

TO OUR UNKNOWN SAINT FIACRE

THANK YOU. We appreciate you. Good Sam’s appreciates you and many people in our community appreciate you and what you are doing.  We will respect your apparent desire for anonymity.  Until you choose to reveal yourself, we will call you “Saint Fiacre”.

 

SPEAKING OF THE PATRON SAINTS THAT WE DO KNOW, TWO OF THEM SHOWED UP LAST SATURDAY AND CAME BEARING GIFTS OF PLANTS AND THE SERVICE OF THEIR LABOR:  Rich Resser and Alicia Carrillo.

Rich Resser and Alicia Carrillo

In addition to 34 tomato plants, 13 Jalapeno pepper plants, about 30 watermelon plant, Rich tilled up five beds and Alicia helped me plant the many plants they brought.

 

EVEN MORE SAINTS!

 

Pat Patel pulling weeds in his plot.  Pat, a former engineer, helps keep our faucets in good working order.

Many Members of Loving Garland Green also qualify as members of the garden sainthood.  For example, Nancy Seaberg donated 8 large healthy eggplants--now happily rooted at the Garland Community Garden.  Pat Patel just this morning volunteered to repair our leaky faucet. 

It takes a lot of saints to keep a garden going and even more volunteer saints at the Good Samaritans of Garland and other people in our community who donate to keep the hungry in our community fed.

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PLANT EXCHANGE AND GARDEN CHAT

 GALAND COMMUNITY GARDEN

4022 NAAMAN School Road (Brand and Naaman School Road

SATURDAY MAY 7 - 9AM TO  NOON
[If it rains, Sunday 1 to 4PM
 

I meet the most interesting people at the Garland Community Garden and they often inspire me undertake projects  I might not have otherwise done. Today  was one of those days.  Rich Resser stopped by the Garden today. Rich, like me, is a Garland resident and a gardener.

Rich and his girlfriend have a greenhouse where they grow orchids and other plants such as  aloe vera that they sell to local nurseries. I’m really looking forward to talking more with Rich on Saturday. After he left the garden today, I thought of so many nosey questions.  For example, do you think it would be possible for someone to make a living in Garland selling produce out of a greenhouse in their backyard?       

Rich has 34 tomato plants (a mix of cherry tomatoes and Beefsteak) to give away on Saturday as well as some watermelon plants that come with an interesting story.  I have about 50 luffa plants to share and also some lemon balm plants.  I’m sure other members of Loving Garland Green have plants to share too. Children are always welcome at the garden.  On Saturday it they want to perhaps they can plant some of Rich’s tomatoes in our area for children.

If you have ever grown wheat, I especially hope that you will come.  I would love to talk with you as I am planting a small field of winter wheat at the garden this fall.  If you want to learn more about this project, read my previous blog. It will be fun to watch it grow and follow the complete process for making it into flour.

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NOTES ABOUT LEMON BALM
I’ll bring some plants from my home too.  We have it growing all over the garden.  In our area it grows very well and is drought tolerant.

It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic). Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings. Today, lemon balm is often combined with other calming, soothing herbs, such as valerian, chamomile, and hops, to promote relaxation. It is also used in creams to treat cold sores (oral herpes).

Native to Europe, lemon balm is grown all over the world.  The plant grows up to 2 feet high, sometimes higher if not maintained. In the spring and summer, clusters of small, light-yellow flowers grow where the leaves meet the stem. If not carefully controlled, lemon balm can quickly become invasive in the garden. Often, people mistakenly think that lemon balm is invasive due to its roots, like its cousins peppermint and spearmint, but in fact it’s the seeds of the lemon balm plant that cause this herb to suddenly take over a garden. Removing the flowers of the plant as soon as they appear will make your lemon balm far less invasive.

 

 

 

RECIPE:  Lemon Balm Pesto

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1.              Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

2.              Add salt and pepper to taste.

3.              Store in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

 

ENJOY THE PICTURES FOR NOW.
THEN COME ON SATURDAY TO SEE THE REAL THING AND MAYBE GET SOME FREE PLANTS!

Rich Resser in front of the Medicine Wheel at the Garland Community Garden

ORCHIDS  IN RICH'S GREENHOUSE

 

 

 

 

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Apr 29 @ 7:13 am

Now, more than ever, is the time for urbanites to grow some of the food they eat. . . and to even consider growing unconventional crops normally reserved for farmers such as wheat.

It is ironic and sad to consider all the potential we have within the boundaries of all our cities in the USA that goes to waste.  Theoretically, we could feed every person in our city on the food we could grow in our parks and our yards.  Yet many people in urban areas go hungry. We need to get better organized for humanity.

As the billionaire astrophysicist and entrepreneur, David Friedberg, said in a widely-circulated video, the entirety of the planet's food supply operates on only a 90-day cycle which constantly replenishes. With people consuming produce made and exported from that previous cycle, any delay or obstruction to the current or next cycle greatly impacts the amount of food and commodities supplied to populations. In short, "humans run out of food in 90 days".

To put the situation into perspective, the spring planting season for wheat began weeks ago, at the end of March and beginning of April. Due to the war in Ukraine, the breadbasket for Europe, there has reportedly not been an adequate amount of planting being undertaken, spelling disaster for the summer of 2022 and beyond.

When approximately 30 per cent of the world's total wheat supply – and 15 per cent of the world's total calories consumed – is cut off from export and the seriousness of the situation begins to properly set in within the coming months, the number of those stuck in food insecurity and potential starvation is predicted to enter the billions.

Agricultural setbacks and monopolies are not just seen in the US, but throughout most of the world where four corporations possess control of over 50 per cent of the world's seed supply – and, therefore, the world's food supply.

Yes, you can grow wheat in your yard.

GROWING WHEAT

NOTE:  This article is adapted from The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan AND an article that appeared in a 2009 issue of Mother Earth.

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How long does it take to grow wheat? Typically, spring wheat takes a minimum of 90 days to reach full maturity, but most farmers wait for the 100-day mark to ensure the plant has gotten enough sunlight. Most wheat is a cool-season crop. Winter wheat should be planted 6-8 weeks before the first fall frost. Spring wheat can be planted once the ground is ready to work in early spring. This can tolerate heat better, but still should be able to develop before it reaches scorching temperatures.

According to some sources for Winter Wheat which is planted in the fall, usually between October and December, and grows over the winter to be harvested in the spring or early summer. Typically, it takes about seven to eight months to reach maturity and it creates pretty golden contrast in spring gardens.

If you try, you will discover wheat is easy to grow almost anywhere in the United States, even as a wide-row crop in your garden. One gardener in Vermont attests to having planted 30 pounds of winter wheat on one-eighth of an acre and harvesting 250 pounds of grain in July.

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 Among other benefits, it allows you to get away from the commercial process that grows a perfectly good grain, then scrapes off the bran, peels out the germ, bleaches the flour, and sells all those things back to you separately.

If you try, you will discover wheat is easy to grow almost anywhere in the United States, even as a wide-row crop in your garden. One gardener in Vermont attests to having planted 30 pounds of winter wheat on one-eighth of an acre and harvesting 250 pounds of grain in July. On a somewhat smaller scale, even if you have a front yard that’s 20 feet by 50 feet, you could plant 6 pounds of wheat and harvest nearly 50 pounds of grain.

1. CHOOSE THE TYPE OF WHEAT YOU WILL GROW

WINTER WHEAT AND SPRING WHEAT

After you’ve decided how much wheat to plant, you’ll need to decide which type to plant. It’s easy to get confused about types of wheat. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested from mid-May in the South to late July in the North. Spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Both spring and winter wheat are further divided into soft wheat (lacking a high gluten content and used primarily for pastries and crackers), hard wheat (with a high gluten content and used for breads), and durum wheat (used for pasta). The variety you select will depend on where you live. Check with your local cooperative extension agent to learn which varieties are best for your region.

2. PREPARE SOIL AND PLANT

Plant winter wheat in fall to allow for six to eight weeks of growth before the soil freezes. This allows time for good root development. If the wheat is planted too early, it may smother itself the following spring and it could be vulnerable to some late-summer insects that won’t be an issue in the cooler fall weather. If winter wheat is planted too late, it will not overwinter well.

Spring wheat should be planted as early as the ground can be worked in spring. Do the initial plowing in the fall, then till and sow in the spring. To ensure an evenly distributed crop, figure out the amount of seed you’ll need, divide it into two piles, and broadcast one part in one direction, such as from east to west. Then broadcast the remainder from north to south. A cyclone crank seeder will do an even job, but broadcasting by hand is fine for a small plot. You also can plant it in rows like other crops.

Cover the seed by rototilling or raking it in to a depth of 2 to 2 1/2 inches for winter wheat and 1 to 1 1/2 inches for spring wheat. For best results, roll or otherwise firm the bed to ensure good seed-soil contact.

3. HARVEST THE GRAIN

3.1Testing for when its ready to harvest.

As you admire your wheat stand, you’ll notice in midsummer (later for spring wheat) that the color of the stalks turns from green to yellow or brown. The heads, heavy with grain, tip toward the earth. This means it’s time to test the grain. Choose a head, pick out a few grains, and pop them into your mouth. If they are soft and doughy, the grain is not yet ready. Keep testing. One day the grains will be firm and crunchy, and it will be time to harvest.

3.2 Cutting the wheat

At harvest, how should you cut the wheat? If you have a small enough plot, you’ll just snip the heads of wheat off the stems. It goes quickly if your wheat field is no larger than about 6 feet wide by 25 feet long. 

 Using a scythe. If you like the old-time way of doing things and are going to harvest a larger amount of grain, you might use a scythe and cradle. The cradle is a series of long wooden fingers mounted above the scythe blade. The scythe cuts the wheat, and then the cradle carries the cut wheat to the end of each swing and deposits it in a neat pile, stacked with all the heads grouped together. You could cut with the scythe alone, but you would spend a lot of time picking up the cut wheat and arranging it for easier handling.

Harvesting with a sickle. Grab and cut. Hold a handful of wheat in your left hand and swing the sickle with your right to cut the plants at nearly ground level. It’s possible to kneel or crouch in various positions to avoid getting too tired. As you cut handfuls, lay them in small piles with all the heads pointed in the same direction.

3.3 Binding the wheat

Binding sheaves. The next step is to bind the grain into sheaves, each about 12 to 14 inches in circumference — a bunch you can hold comfortably in your hands. Bind the same day you cut the wheat. It’s nice to have two people taking turns cutting and binding. You can bind with cord or baler’s twine or even with some of the wheat stems, twisting them in a way that holds the bundle firm.

 

4. CURE THE GRAIN

Curing the grain. Stack sheaves upright in a well-ventilated, dry location safe from grain-eating animals. Our ancestors stacked sheaves to make shocks in the field, but with small quantities, it’s easy to bring the sheaves in out of the weather. The grain has been cured when it is hard, shatters easily, and cannot be dented with your thumbnail.

 

5. THRESH THE GRAIN

Threshing. Separate the straw and chaff from it. You can go about this in any number of ways. One method is flailing. A flail consists of one piece of wood about 3 feet long — the handle — attached with a leather thong to a shorter piece about 2 feet long. The shorter piece is flung at the heads of grain repeatedly, shattering a few heads each time. If you are using this method, you can expect to produce about 3 pounds of wheat in 20 to 25 minutes. That’s slow work. Also, there’s a trick to learning to swing the tail without rapping yourself on the head.

Another way is to beat the individual sheaves against the inside of a large, clean trash can. In two hours a thresher can produce a can full of wheat, but with a lot of chaff and even solid heads in it. This is faster than flailing, but produces more debris that has to be separated from the wheat.

 

6. WINNOW THE GRAIN

Winnowing. The usual method for winnowing is pouring the grain from one container to another, letting either the wind or the breeze from an electric fan push the lighter chaff out of the grain. Repeat the process a few times to get the grain as chaff-free as possible.

 

7. STORE THE GRAIN

The Best Ways to Store Wheat

The way you store grain depends on how much you’re dealing with. Storing it properly means protecting it from heat, light, and moisture, as well as from rats, mice, and insects. You can keep a small amount of grain in plastic bags in the freezer practically forever, but it takes more effort to store larger amounts.

The general recommendation is to store hard winter or spring wheat with less than a 10 percent moisture content — a moisture level that is actually difficult to attain without additional drying (see below). Five-gallon metal or plastic buckets with friction lids are ideal for storing all grains. One hundred pounds of grain can be stored in three of these containers. (Garbage cans are not good for storage because making them bug-proof is difficult.)

These cans prevent insects from getting into the grain, but you must take another step to eliminate any eggs or larvae already in the grain. A simple method is to heat the grain in the oven for 30 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which also will help reduce the moisture content. If you’re not sure about the accuracy of your oven’s thermostat, check it with an oven thermometer: temperatures higher than 140 degrees may damage the grain.

 

8. GRIND THE GRAIN

Some books suggest using a blender to grind the grain, but that doesn’t work well. You won’t be able to make nice, fine flour — only a coarse meal with particles of uneven size. At first, buying an inexpensive, hand-cranked mill sounds right and romantic — back to nature all the way! But how much flour are you going to be grinding? You’d have to grind all afternoon to get enough flour for six loaves of bread, and that’s apt to discourage you from baking at all after the first few tries. Using an electric flour mill is a better way to grind large quantities. When you’re selecting a mill, ask the following questions:

8.1 Select a Mill

Will it handle the amount of flour you expect to grind in a reasonable amount of time?

Does it grind without overheating the grain?

Can it be adjusted to grind different degrees of coarseness?

Is it easy to use and clean?

Will replacement parts be available if you need them?

Is it manufactured by a reputable company that will honor the warranty?

When grinding grain, avoid the temptation to grind large amounts for future use. Grind what you need for perhaps a week, and refrigerate the unused portion in an airtight container. Whole grains can be stored for months without loss of taste or nutrition, but this is not true of whole grain flour.

 

Additional Sources for growing wheat;


https://www.land.com/owning/habitat/winter-wheat/

https://www.epicgardening.com/growing-wheat/#:~:text=Wheat%20grows%20best%20in%20full,square%20foot%20can%20be%20done.