Garden Wheat in Zone 4/5?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Sedition, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Sedition

    Sedition Well-Known Member

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    May 30, 2003
    Has anybody tried to grow hard winter wheat in zone 4/5? I called my county extension, who told me that this is done in my zone, but not very often. I can’t find a single human being to talk too who has tried this in my neck of the woods.

    I’m interested in a small plot. I’ve got a 30x200 sqft field that I’m putting into sweet corn in the spring. The sweetcorn will harvest in early August, leaving me time for a fall crop. I figure I’ll manure with compost from the chicken coop, and maybe add some additional nitrogen. I hate to plant 2 grasses back to back.

    The wheat will be both for me, and for the critters. What kind of yield can I get off of a small 6,000 sqft area – about 13% of an acre? Any tips or advice?
     
  2. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    South Central Michigan
    We are in zone 5 and have done it. Not sure about the yields.....it varies so much from site to site and how consistent you can broadcast it. We did an acre once and our Amish neighbors do quite a bit some years. We used a shoulder broadcaster to seed it and got a fairly decent stand. Don't know where you are. It needs to be done in late September here and it really does better if you work it in a little, although we have done it several different ways. We have a scythe and cut it by hand and then "thrashed" it out by hand after it dryed. It is, like all hand farming, labor intensive, but we wanted to know that we could do it if we needed to and feel satisfied that we could "subsist" on our little homestead if we needed to. We also have grown grain sorgham, millet and oats and hand harvested them, as well as our open pollinated field corn.
     

  3. Sedition

    Sedition Well-Known Member

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    I’m exactly in the same boat diane. I want to do it by hand myself, if only to know that I can.

    I live on the zone 4/5 line about 15 south of the Des Moines River in Iowa. I’ve read the section on wheat threshing and processing in Carla’s book. We go through a fair amount, as I try to bake most of our own bread, but still only 40 pounds of flour or so a year. We eat more meat, milk and eggs than anything else. I figure that 6,000 sqft out to give me a couple bushels, even after a pinch for the birds. If I get more than I need, I’m sure that the chickens and sheep will be willing to help out. In fact, that’s part of my goal. I’ve got about 3 acres of my land that I can put into fields, and I’d like to grow 100% of my livestock feed. Forage is another matter, but my neighbor has 40 acres of alfalfa right on two sides of my property line, and getting a round bale or two for a half dozen sheep is just a matter of a few dollars and a fresh gooseberry pie.

    Any advice? I’ve never grown cereals beyond sweet corn. One question I have, is that this plot is behind my chicken coop. Are the fowl going to be eating the sprouts? I could always “tractor” the birds out on the edge of the pasture until it gets cold in late October and I need to move ‘em inside.
     
  4. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    South Central Michigan
    Most definately tractor those birds. Nothing finer to them then wonderful, brand new wheat sprouts. In fact, when we do wheat for chickens we sprout it for them as it adds all sorts of vitamins. That is one of the things that the "old timers" did before we all got so modern.

    Something truly wonderful to grow for the chickens is millet. You can cut it with a scythe and dry it then stack it in the barn and pitch it in to the birds in the winter. Give them bedding and scratch both, and high quality scratch at that. Grain sorghum is another nice, easy one to grow that is easy to harvest and stack and then just let them do the "thrashing".

    As my husband and I get older, we are doing less, but still know that we can do it if we need to. It is a very nice feeling. Right now, I am totally enjoying growing some rather extensive flower gardens along with my veggies.
     
  5. Does anyone know where I can buy a small amount of wheat seed to grow, please? I'd like to try planting a few small patches as decorative plantings in the yard, but am unsure of where I can buy it.

    Does a grain mill (feed mill) offer it in small quanitities and is it actual wheat seed or just already cooked grain for animals to eat?

    Thank you!
     
  6. Darren in TN

    Darren in TN Guest

    Unregistered,

    You may be able to get your local coop or feed store to sell (or give) you a handful if they do custom feed mixing and don't just sell it in pre-measured bags like Tractor Supply does. If that doesn't work, call your local health food and organic produce stores. A lot of them sell unground wheat, quinoa, amaranth, barley, etc. by the scoop. The millet and milo from birdseed is pretty when grown, too.

    Good luck,
    Darren
     

  7. Darren,

    Thank you very much! (This is Deb Mc., but there's computer issues this today...) I'll call around to check availability then.

    Thanks again!