Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

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Johnny Oxygen's picture
Johnny Oxygen
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Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

I hesitated to even post this question because it might be too ridiculous. I was thinking about planting some grains in my backyard and then milling them. Is that worth the trouble or do you need really large tracts to make it worth while? My yard is rather small 50' x 50' roughly. Should I try it? If so what type of wheat should I plant? Any other grain suggestions?

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

hmm You might want to read the book, "Small Scale Grain Raising" by Gene Logsdon.   It has tables and charts of space required and yields of different crops.  I'm not sure it would be worth it when you can buy grains  now and store them.  That plot might be better used for fresh veggies and a small, moveable hoop for winter greens.  You could always grow grains on 1/2 of it just to check it out.  Corn has the highest yields I think but maybe Robie the farmer will chime in here.

I grew corn for corn meal a couple years ago and the crows pulled up all of the beautiful little 2" shoots.  I would go out every morning and replant them before they died and they would be uprooted and lying on the ground the next morning.  The next year I tried wheat and just before it was ready (of course), deer came and ate it all one night.  A history book I read recently of Dover, VT described farmers shooting at crows and searching and destroying their nests and eggs because of this.  Add electric fencing and a .22 to your farm equipment list.

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

JO -

You might want to try and contact LogansRun via PM.  I think he planted soybeans a year ago.  He might be able to tell you how he did and give you an idea of what yield to expect based on the size of your planting area.

I'm with M.E. on the storage alternative.  If your goal is to have wheat on hand to mill into flour later (if needed), then long term storage might a better approach.  I think it was SafeWrite who said something along the lines of "If you can buy it now for less than you can grow it, you should buy it."

Your 50' x 50' yard very likely has enough sunny space to get a Square Foot Garden up and running too.  Good luck, keep us posted.

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

I have always wondered about this myself. I would suspect that in a survival situation, one might get more calories per square foot with potatoes than grains, but I really have no experience on this subject. I did find a Suburban Farming Blog with a few entries on growing a test plot of wheat:

http://suburbanfarmonline.com/2009/07/13/growing-wheat-in-my-own-backyard/

http://suburbanfarmonline.com/2010/09/24/growing-your-own-wheat-part-1/

I'll keep looking for more info....Jeff

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Well my interest in it is really about how-to-do-it in case that need should arise. I'm just looking to aquire the skill and knowledge. And of course chicks only dig guys with skills.

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

More links with info on the subject:

http://www.breadinfo.com/flour.shtml

http://waldeneffect.org/blog/Grain_varieties_suitable_to_the_backyard/

http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Harvesting__44___threshing__44___winnow...

http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Growing_grains_for_homemade_livestock_f...

http://www.islandgrains.com/

The podcast Deconstructing Dinner out of Canada has a 10 part series called the Local Grain Revolution. This podcast was discontinued a few days ago, so it might be a good idea to subscribe to it in iTunes soon and/or download the archives before they disappear, if you find the content interesting.

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

 about 70 bushel per acre here . ...   depends on your soil , the rain fall etc. Varies from Year to year .   The wheat is coming up good now .  We like a few good snows on it .

  Winter wheat and spring wheat  will be different . You want winter wheat for bread baking .

  FM

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

WoW!

Great responses so far.

Thanks to everyone.

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

JO,

In general, grains do not provide balanced amino acids.  Depending on where you live, beans (especially soy) are good protein sources.  When the Inca food bins were opened, 4 staples were found.  Corn, beans, Amaranthus, and Chenopodium.  The latter  2 are botanically closely related.  Rodale et al have done a fair amount of work on Amaranthus because it is a weed (easy to grow) and has an exceptional blend of amino acids (almost as good as eggs).

When I think of growing alternate crops in an area, I check out the weeds and see if they are or can be domesticated.  The downside is that they have tiny seeds.

Nate

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Being first and formost a poor and reluctant typist, i'll second the Gene Logsdon book on small grain. We grow 60-180acres of small grain/year

and the back yard is a great place for veggies(grAIN is a wasate of space,however its what made yopu a community). Hook up with a "farmer" for grain in any amount worth(combining/threshing) consideration. I'ld talk all night on the phone to anyone interested, but can neither typenor desire too.

 

robie i read all yawl and love what i've learned,but an't communicate by this typing cra9, a brave soul should come and live with us a few weeks, its a hoot and very validating

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Found this on YouTube:

That wheat flour on the supermarket shelf is looking cheaper and cheaper, lol.

 

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

I have been trying this, and with some success.  The best results that I've had has been inside an old aviary because the feral birds (mostly sparrows) have eaten too much of the grain when it's out in the open.  

The yield can be much higher (per sq metre) than an open paddock because I am able to add some fertiliser (organic... chicken manure, minerals and seaweed solution) and water when there is a lack of rain.

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

 Honestly , I would not plant back yard wheat until I absolutely had to .    It is $18  for 50# bags at places such as this www.farmerdirectfood.com    It is easy to store ...  You could buy a lifetime of it !   Save a little if you think you might  possibly need it to plant later .    Remember it doubles when ground  and will go far if you are cooking it as cream of wheat .   People who are not used to eating whole wheat will really take some used to eating it and many will really have to be hungry . Buy Store bought flour to mix with it for a while first . I think  White flour can store a very long time because all the good oil and things that will go ransid ,are already removed .  Buy both red and white winter wheat ...work with both .

  Robie , do you farm all160 acres with your team of horses ?       

 Back to the wheat  there are just  to many things that  could go wrong  do not let your stash get low before ordering or bartering for more .

 FM

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

JO,

I did soy beans last autumn and they did very well.  It was on a plot about 40' by 60' and I was able to produce approx. 90#'s of the beans.  Don't know if that's good or bad, but it was good for me!  The only issue that I had was that the deer wanted into the fenced area so badly that they damaged some of the fencing.  So it was a push as far as cost is concerned.  The advantage was that it left a nice cover on the soil and instilled Nitrogen into it as well for the spring planting.  I planted string beans on it this spring and now have nothing there other than ash from the firing of the dead plants and straw.  Will be planting corn there this spring.  

Wheat is something I'd like to try as well.  Actually, I'd like to try everything just to know how to grow it when I NEED the items.  If you're willing to give up the plot for a planting, go for it!  Let us know how it goes.

 

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

FM,

 

We farm 465 acres, of which i play with horses on the "organic land around the house". The remaining land is full commodity production with all the inputs neccessary to keep the big green JD man happy. We do,however, milk a couple by hand each morn. We lead an enchanted existence(Joy-the emotion arising from the awareness of ones enchantment). Come visit

 

The Robinsons

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

FM

Are yawl all hard red winter? Our commodity wheat is. However, I've had fair success with soft white(a wet spring will cause a stem sprout and then its ensiled)planted as winter wheat. makes an easy loaf,the weavils love it(means it good for us too)

 

robie, I'ld love a miller in our area that could de-hull oats and barley,could feed alot of folk enmass. 

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Johnny's Seeds in Maine has hullless oats.  I  bought 1 lb.  and will hand sew them in February here in central Texas.  Would have sewn some in mid November but we are in a drought at this time.  The only negative that I have read about is that they tend to lodge.  Lodging  happens when the stalks get too tall and become blown over or "lodged" by the wind.  Sometimes if a crop is down you can put metal tines or fingerlike extensions on the header to lift the plant up off the ground.  That can work if your land is level and not too rocky or if a driving rain/hail has not plastered then to the ground.  If they make here, I expect to have to hand harvest them.  These might work in an urban area!

cowgap

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Johnny's Seeds in Maine has hullless oats.  I  bought 1 lb.  and will hand sew them in February here in central Texas.  Would have sewn some in mid November but we are in a drought at this time.  The only negative that I have read about is that they tend to lodge.  Lodging  happens when the stalks get too tall and become blown over or "lodged" by the wind.  Sometimes if a crop is down you can put metal tines or fingerlike extensions on the header to lift the plant up off the ground.  That can work if your land is level and not too rocky or if a driving rain/hail has not plastered then to the ground.  If they make here, I expect to have to hand harvest them.  These might work in an urban area!

cowgap

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

Tried hulless oats and the birds ate'em , it was an amazing sight.

 

robie, wish you the best with'em 

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?
Full Moon wrote:

 It is $18  for 50# bags at places such as this www.farmerdirectfood.com   It is easy to store ... You could buy a lifetime of it ! 

That link did not work.  I assume this is the correct site.   www.farmerdirectfoods.com

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

My wife has been grinding wheat and making bread for our family for close to 30 years –with the same Bosch mixer and stone mill grinder.  Compared to white or "whole wheat" store bought bread it is much more flavorful, filling and only slightly heavier.  With the right mill/grind(er) and the right recipe, there is no getting used to it.  Fresh out of the oven with a little butter and honey it is like desert.  Toasting it for breakfast adds to the rich nutty flavor.  Her recipe is quite short but there is a lot of noise generated with the grinding, mixing, kneading, and slamming the dough to consolidate it.   

We have stored wheat for years at a time.  I prefer to buy hard red winter wheat in 5 gallon buckets but it is OK when packed in double plastic bags. Bags take less room and are cheaper but more susceptible to varmints. 

I have never grown wheat to harvest but late this fall I seeded winter wheat mixed with annual rye as a cover crop to hold the soil on my newly dug ponds. The rye and wheat has established quickly and the orchard grass will take over this spring. 

I have purchased most baking wheat from www.wheatmontana.com. I would also consider www.waltonfeed.com

My opinion: growing wheat is a worthwhile skill to acquire but for now I would buy wheat for storage and grow higher value crops in small garden plots.

Regards, Darrel

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

  Robie , totally hard red winter wheat  grown here .   I do order hard white wheat  for some of the breads.   Had the most yummy Walnut bread  today !    Personally  only have 100 acres in the family .. it is mostly prairie hay and alfalfa  for the cattle . (less work , more money that way )  I have a Large garden and  small  fruit orchard .... I planted Almond and Pecan last year too.     My team are Shetlands  grand champion even ,  very cute for getting around with and easy for this gal  to handle .  I was very disappointed when the mare threw a spade hoof  filly that paddles out . and of course the grandsons think she is the most wonderful thing so she will be ridden until she is buried here.   The other horses ( Morgans and paints )  we use for workin cattle , riding trails, and having fun . Watch extreme cowboy competition sometime they have a blast doing this at local gatherings  .  It is sad to say  that the horses  are trained for harness but we have not  the equipment  to pull . My grandfather always had a team  workin .    Most farms here  are good size  1- 2000  acres , so  even the Amish are using small tractors. ( We are not partial to any name brand here )  My place is bordered by CRP and historical park  so no chemicals in my water or anywhere close by . At one time this area  had a farm every quarter section and a school house every two miles .  This place was originally bought for $1800 in 1919 .  Think how much money that was back Then !   I paid $15,000.  for it fifteen years ago . but we have had to put  double that back into it over the years .  Our taxes are $400 a year .. I feel very blessed .

  Every kind  of  grain is raised within very short  distance, milo, oats , corn , barley , soybeans ...     the Coop will  twice clean the grain for a  very small fee . You have to wait  between harvest to get it done but it is worth the wait .   I like to soak the grain in whey   then grind it . I also like warm milk in the bread dough ... makes a very nice loaf  but the family is spoiled and really like the breads  hot out of the oven with real butter .  Day Old bread  makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches and french toast  .  So Very Sad ... most the farmers wives here buy bread in the store paying over $3 for a twenty-five cent loaf of bread .  Well maybe a little more if you add an egg and milk .My boys get up and grind their wheat fresh for their cream of wheat breakfast . They  like the hand grinder not my electric one  I think because of the texture .

 The daughter milks 120 head of holstein  just down the road  but I go a little further to get organic from the Amish (Swiss holstein mix ) .  This is a preference and I will stay closer to home if the gas gets to high .  I pick up 15 gallons a week so it makes it worth the 20 mile drive  for now  and  i do not have to get up at the crack of dawn for milkin  . I  do have a holstein heifer   but she was a twin to a bull  so not good for much more than hamburger , jerky and such .  I have just this year started reading the Small farm Journal and The Draft Horse Primer  again and will be looking to get equipment . My son-in-law is a farrier & trainer  so he will be keeping  us in good shape.     If all else fails there is equipment in the museum  they will surely loan out if needed . 

 In the end if nothing is found to make fuel ,this land will all go back to the deer and  buffalo  . A few farmers still have some around ,  even crossed it into beefalo , One of my 4-H kids is raising Elk for his project .   We have some in the freezer .. I do not understand why it tastes better than deer but it does .

 Do you put up straw-bales ?   We helped a family build a straw-bale house and it is so toasty warm ... R value 40  .  Think if you went large squares !    There are some  a little further west that are over 200 years old .   This is a totally renewable resource  for building material .  They go up in such a hurry too.   I dream of a warm straw-bale  barn  with the Hot  water piped in from our wood stove ... Then  I might consider milking again .   - 20 windchill    No Way !  I am to soft . Feeding bucket calves  at 10 AM is bad enough .    Well  this dream is in the back of my mind along with that root cellar and Ice house .

 I laughed when you invited strangers to your place ... No farmers daughters , huh ?    I am way more careful now days because one of mine has married a fellow from town ... He loves us anyway  and his kids are out here every minute I let them .

 I would  so  love to come out your way but since we retired from the Air Force 15 years ago  I do not go more than a 100 miles from home ... By choice . Funny thing is my husband only goes 6 miles into town to get on the train  to run it up the rail then 6 miles back home .. don't suppose we are using up all the resources . We are very happy down on the farm  listening to the meadowlark  and Whippoorwill . Hope to stay here until we are buried up on the hill or if Jesus comes for us  before that day .   Each to their own .

  Weird thing the other day I got a letter in the mail  Govt. wanting to know about my swine operation  .. what in the heck !    Two little pigs that eat the left over garden and spoiled milk  is a hog operation ? Well the season is ended and they now fill a freezer .

   Sorry I am  getting sidetracked  and  not being informative here ... just wanted to encourage you to keep on .. You will have many you can help feed .    I am  not good with talking $$$$  but  Love to talk to those who know Gee from Haw and like the smell of dirt and leather .

  Well I have a batch of soap on the stove and cayenne tincture to bottle up  ,. I realize that you do not like typing I never learned how either  but I am sure to have a question or two when I do get ready to purchase    that sidebar mower and rake  . My girl friend at the bank and I get a chuckle because we are the only gals that can get excited over a mower bought at an auction.  She has Mules and Loves them . 

 FM

 FM

 

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

http://www.farmerdirectfoods.com/     It worked for me .

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

I would not think it would be worth the effort to grow wheat on a lot that is 50 x 50.  Wouldn't squash, corn and beans be more productive?  I have tried to grow a grain crop, and on my small acreage with a lack of farm tools, it is just to intensive for me.  One doesn't get much 'grain' from such a small plot.

  The most prolific and easy to store crops for me are always the squashes.  Also stuff like asparagus and raspberries, that come up every year with little work involved.  I made 50+ pints of raspberry jam this year, not to mention I sold berries!   You can get a LOT of veggies out of 50 x 50, and it will fill you up more than a bucket of wheat, which is about what you get from that amount of land, in my personal experience.  I have an acre in veggies....I buy grains....but I DO grow sunflowers for my chickens, and have done popcorn for fun.  Sunflowers may be something to consider?

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Re: Growing Wheat in an Urban Area?

"civility?" a product of grain.  no its, "civilization" a product of grain. Its either grain or meat for sufficient protein to keep community alive and better if both.("Beer" a product of civil grain production)

 

robie :-) 

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