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Growing Wheat in My Own Backyard

July 13, 2009

I’ve been thinking about it since January, and I’m still mulling how to make it work on my property, but I’d like to try growing wheat. I won’t pretend that I could even begin to serve my family’s grain needs on a small, suburban plot of land, but I’d like to give it a go, just to see what it’s like. I’ll call it a novelty crop; it’s something to keep me entertained during the winter.

The Northeast is not known for its prolific grain harvest, but I was heartened when I found this article from the Boston Globe about the resurgence of grain farming in the Northeast. The idea is starting to catch on.

What seems harder, though, is finding basic information on the Internet about growing wheat. There is a glut of technical farming information for high-yield operations, but a dearth of info on things like when to plant and when to harvest. I did find a few blogs, which are helpful.

What I’ve gathered so far is that I can plant hard red winter wheat around September, and harvest in June. At first I thought I had the perfect solution to a winter cover crop, until I realized that lots of things have to get started in the ground before June. So where will I put the wheat? I considered taking a local community plot for the winter, but I would run into the same problem: people want to plant before June.

Normally I would tear up the yard and put in a new growing area, but my husband and I are still at odds over the lawn. He is right on one count: I should plan my growing areas better. And since I’m approaching wheat as a novelty, I wouldn’t call it great planning.

For now, my best solution is to use half of The Suburban Farm–the new half–where the watermelons and sunflowers are growing. It’s a small section, maybe 8×10′, but I’m sure I can get a nice harvest of wheat berries, which is all I really want.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2009 12:52 pm

    I’ll be interested in seeing how it goes! Good luck!

  2. July 14, 2009 6:11 pm

    Such an interesting idea. I have never thought about growing grains. May have to give it more thought!

  3. July 18, 2009 10:06 am

    I think grain is usually grown in the US where water is more scarce. We have such an abundance of rain that it is more profitable to grow fruit and vegetables. Combine that with the high cost of land in the NE and it is not financially feasible to grow grain. Grain only for a short while became profitable because of the huge spike in grain prices.

    I always dream about growing my own grain. I did grow a very small (think tiny) patch of wheat once about 20 years ago just for kicks. I’m thinking a good summer crop would be some kind(s) of dried bean. It would have to be a bush bean (which is good if you have a large area) because you need something that matures fast. Grains and beans are a good pair, both nutritionally and in the garden.

  4. September 11, 2009 8:14 pm

    I’m curious about winter wheat. We have sown several three of our twelve raised bed sections with a winter cover crop consisting of barley, peas and crimson clover. I’m interested in the bean discussion since I’m aware that I could stick some beans in to let them get started (break through), then harvest the grain and lay the stalks down around the beans as compost (Fukuoka method). It would be a no-till method and if correct, a nitrogen fixing gift to the soil. Thoughts anyone ? reply to bdchowell@hotmail.com… thanks !

  5. September 11, 2009 8:15 pm

    Oops… should have mentioned we’re in Eugene, OR. Part of the lower Willamette valley, which experiences a lot of cloud cover, rain and mild temperatures for five months of the year…

  6. martin freeman permalink
    February 23, 2011 11:24 am

    Hi
    I grow a small patch of winter wheat and a patch of hulless barley in my backyard. I have a rotation that starts with grain being planted in early Oct. which gets harvested in mid June followed by a dry bean which is harvested in late Sept, which is followed by garlic in Oct. This keeps the beds busy and requires additions of compost but works really well. A nice winter time meal of beans and barley with some buttered whole wheat bread is awesome. You might be surprised at the amounts of grain that can come from a small bed.

  7. Bill Bryan permalink
    March 31, 2011 12:35 am

    I’ve been wanting to try this for years now. I think a front yard full of “amber waves of grain” rippling in the wind would look great, but I’m pretty sure my HOA would disagree ;-) . We have a good-sized backyard though, so I think I’m going to give it a shot.

  8. Chandra Marski permalink
    June 13, 2011 12:28 pm

    I live in a house on 3 acres in Central Oklahoma. Our whole neighborhood used to be a farm. I can’t get the wheat to STOP growing in our yard! (I’m allergic.) I wish we could trade. lol

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