Growing your own wheat

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

I've grown wheat on an extremely small scale (4' x '4 bed) and would like to try growing it this fall in a 400 sq ft plot.
I plan on broadcasting the seeds and raking it in. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
Whats the best way to control weeds?

This message was edited Jul 17, 2012 9:11 AM

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I have never grown wheat. How did your small plot do?

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

It didn't do well. First, I believe the birds ate half the seed. Then this early spring/late winter we had a late hard frost that burned half of what was left to the ground.
The handful of heads that were left were devoured by something (I'm guessing birds)
You'd think that I'd give up but my stubborness refuses to throw in the towel. People have been growing wheat for thousands of years so there must be a way to do it with "some" success.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

You might have better luck growing some of the ancient wheat grains.

Also, Google Masanobu Fukuoka's seed ball preparation. It keeps the seeds from being eaten until they germinate. I think he wrapped them in a clay slurry, but it's been a long time since I read it.

Bentonville, AR

Darius, you amaze me with all of your knowledge. I wish I lived closer to tap into your neverending wisdom. I guess I should be thankful to get it via dg :) you truly are a mentor, at least for me.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Thanks, but the truth is that I've just collected an assortment of bits and bites over the years. (That collection does not include names, birthdays, or dates and phone numbers, to my dismay.)

Temuco, Chile(Zone 9b)

I did try wheat years ago and I did make sure to work up a fine seedbed with a rake, and harrow, I didn't have a rotary tiller, I broadcasted the seed on the soil surface, and then again I used my rake to lightly to cover it.

The time is important, I was living in NSW, Au. then, and in my area we did not have snow so I sowed it mid Autumn in an area that had clover cover crop that I used as a green manure, I did not have lots of weeds.

I did copy this from the information I had at the time about weeds, I tried to find it again but it is not longer available in the Net.
Here it goes:

Weed Control
     The worst problem in raising wheat organically is weed control. Because wheat is planted "solid" rather than in rows, you can't weed it, so without very good management, you can get too many weeds. Chemical farmers spray herbicides to control most weeds in wheat fairly easily.
     Organically, you have to get those weeds by clever rotations. The crop before wheat should always be a row crop that has been cultivated intensively for weed control. That way you at least start off ahead of the weeds. Then, because wheat is sown in Autumnl after most weeds quit growing, it gets even a better jump on weeds; it makes a good stand and is off and growing in the spring, choking out most weeds that try to come up later.
     But don't plant solid-stand wheat in a weedy field. Grief if you do. Better than do that, plant your wheat in rows and cultivate it like the Chinese do, your neighbors may laugh at you, but the Chinese know more about raising food than we yet know.

Crop Rotations
     In your rotation of crops either in the field or in the garden, wheat will (or should) be followed immediately by clover for nitrogen and green manure. The reason it follows immediately is because it's handy to plant the clover in the wheat before the latter starts growing in the spring. The wheat then acts as a "nurse" crop for the alfalfa which comes on to heavy growth after the wheat is harvested. More on that and clover in a later chapter.
     Since corn should be the first crop to follow the clover, the basis of your organic grain rotation will be either wheat, clover, field corn, or wheat, clover, sweet corn. Since it is good to follow corn with another nitrogen-fixing legume, soybeans in the field, or peas, snap beans, or limas in the garden are fine. And wheat following any of these legumes works well too. Potatoes, wheat, clover, back to potatoes is an excellent rotation where potatoes are a main crop. A five-year garden rotation would be: wheat, clover, sweet corn, peas, and beans double-cropped to fall vegetables, tomatoes, then back to wheat. But almost any variation will work well if you maintain the basic wheat-legume-corn rotation unbroken and don't follow two vegetables of the same kind or family in successive years.
I did plant only a small area, about 10 mt by 6. It produce well but I did work hard on the harvest and the cleaning:cutting it, tying the bundles, waiting for then to dry then threshing the bundles. Then you have to winnow the grain ...... Lots of work I decided and in Oz there are so much wheat that I did not try it again. But if I need to, I know I could do it.

Good luck

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

Thanks Cristina,
My problem now will be to try to find a good weed-free bed to try. LOL
I have a plot with dry beans that will probably work.

Temuco, Chile(Zone 9b)

yardener that sound perfect, the ground already have enough Nitrogen for the wheat, With that the seeds will germinate and grow strong and healthy, chocking the weeds.

In case you do not use the biodynamic gardening you can try it, I have been using it for a long time and I'm sure you will be happy with the results you'll get.

Wheat can be sowed on Leaf days.


Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

biodynamic gardening? Did I miss something?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

yardener, I have started doing partial biodynamic gardening, which means I don't make and use all the preparations, nor does everything come from just my "farmette". However, I DO follow planting by the signs as much as I can.

You can find more information here:

Temuco, Chile(Zone 9b)

Thank you Darius, we may have another organic biodynamic gardener. and you don't have to "follow" strictly the mode, the main thing is to be open to the benefits of the planet and enjoy the gardening.

Flowery Branch, GA

I have been thinking of growing some wheat so I can get some non-GMO grain for my chickens. We grew it as a kid, but that was in big fields. Glad to know I can experiment with a small plot. I just emptied out my kitchen-garden raised bed by the house and have some 'ancient' wheat I think I'll try there. I have an old screen door to cover the area with to keep the chickens, which free-range, from scratching it all up. Thanks for the inspiration, Yardener. I'll have to check out the biodynamic gardening. Thanks for the link, darius. I'm toying with the idea of trying aquaponics - growing both fish and using their waste to feed garden produce plants. Has anyone else tried this yet?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I have thought more than once about building a large fish tank in a solar greenhouse and recycling the waste for plants, then back to the fish tank. Only lack of money stops me.

The best information about aquaponics has come from small The New Alchemy Institute, starting their research farm in 1969. I have one (or more) of their books, which I'm sure are out of print. However, if you go to The Green Center, you can download some of their papers.

The Green Center
The Green Center Inc., is a non-profit educational institute that evolved from The New Alchemy Institute. The Green Center is the custodian and distributor of publications of New Alchemy's ecological research conducted from 1971 to 1991.

There is also a lot of good info here:

Laingsburg, MI

Hello, I just found this thread and wondered whether someone could help me. I planted barley with Canadian field peas and raked it in, as was instructed by accompanying literature. There was still a good deal of seed on the surface. It has been two weeks since and a week of rain. Nothing has germinated, but I did notice a tiny green protrusion from many of the barley. Should I re-rake to a deeper depth? What have I done wrong?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sue, wish I had some helpful tips, but I do not. sigh.

I have become more convinced than ever that if we want to grow grains, they should only be ancient grains, esp. in the wheat category. Since US farmers started growing the shorter wheat in the 1950-1970's, the nutritional quality of the wheat has dropped dramatically.

Richmond, TX

I would not rake; it would disturb any roots that are forming. You might pick one of the greening grains up and see if it has tiny roots. You may have a crop after all.

Temuco, Chile(Zone 9b)

Just let it be, you will see soon more green in the field as soon as the sun warm the earth after that good rain for sure you will have a growth soon.

Usually with grain, is not very good / effective to rake over, you may spread some more seeds but not disturbing the grounds.

Colorado County, TX(Zone 8b)

No different than planting a seed plot for deer. We have put out a mix of wheat/oats (50/50) for decades. Disc the area to be planted, broadcast the seed (or use a seed drill) and run either a heavy chain or harrow rake over the area... then pray for rain.

We do 6-8 one acre plots every year.

This message was edited Jun 11, 2013 8:17 PM

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