Garden

21 articles in category Garden / Subscribe

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We moved to Central Texas in the fall of 2011, on the heels of one of the worst droughts this state has ever seen. Coming from the Midwest, it was like being transported to another planet. Everything I thought I knew about gardening – like avoiding those spots in our old yard that were too wet – went out the window as we crossed from Kansas to Oklahoma and finally into Texas.

Since then we have scoured the internet and several of our favorite seed magazines for drought and heat tolerant crops. This summer we’ve received more rain and milder temperatures than the two previous summers, but I don’t expect that to be the case every summer. So, in order to create sustainable food production, we’re looking to plant things every year that can tolerate the conditions already existing in our area.

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Which is why we’ve grown blue speckled tepary beans every year now… and I’m impressed.

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One thing we have done a lot of in the garden is test patches. We’ve committed ourselves to large plantings of foods that we know work well here – cow peas, sweet potatoes, greens, etc. But we’re always hesitant to take up a lot of space with something we’ve never tried before.

Instead, we’ve thrown out seeds for different things to see how they handle the heat, drought, and clay soil. Some things fall flat on their face and others have surprised us.

Seed Grains

This year we planted three different types of grain, well some call them seed grains as they are not of the grass family. The first, millet, was intentional. Stewart threw some out into the pallet garden and we had a couple of heads come up. It was everyday millet that we’d purchased for food and I’m guessing that’s why we had a low germination rate.

The other two grains were buckwheat and amaranth. These were actually a part of a larger perennial insectary mix. They sure have helped with attracting beneficial insects and both the buckwheat and amaranth grew really well. I’m told you can eat the grains and the green from both the buckwheat and the amaranth. Has anyone else heard this?

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Easy Threshing

The millet was of particular interest to us because it has a short growing season, likes the heat, and the grain itself comes out of the rest of the plant fairly easily. The buckwheat I have cracked between my teeth to remove the hull, but I’m thinking our Country Living Grain Mill might be able to crack it. I haven’t attempted to harvest the amaranth yet, but from what I can tell the seeds come out of the head fairly easily.

A grain that threshes easily is one of our interests as we’d like to use grain for both human and animal consumption where needed. I’ve worked with all of these grains in the kitchen previously, so any of them would be a welcome addition to our harvest basket.

We’ll see how things go next year. Perhaps buckwheat in the spring or fall and millet or amaranth through the summer? In the meantime, I think I need to get my hands on one of these books:

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 Have you grown grain on any scale on your homestead? Please share in the comments!