Small Scale Grain Growing Update Jan 2013

Small Scale Grain Growing polyculture

Spelt, Bean, and Clover Polyculture

Small Scale Grain Growing is an integral part of my vegetable and grain polyculture experiment, which featured in an article in Permaculture Magazine. I have described what I’m trying to achieve in earlier posts, and on my Sustainable Grains, and Vegetable/Grains pages, but I wanted to show some pictures of my current research. That’s especially true as the last time that I posted an update was at the end of October (2012). This was a post about some of my Research, as opposed to the work itself. I will address that now.

The analysis that I did when I looked at different methods of Small Scale Grain Growing suggested that a spacing of 12 inches (30cm) between plants was going to be close to the optimum. So I pre germinated Spelt and Cereal Rye by soaking, and then placing on wet kitchen roll. The germinated grains were then individually sown into modules. Once they had started to grow, I sprinkled Wild White Clover seed onto each module. I wanted to keep the clover tight to the individual grain seedlings, so that when I planted them out, it would make it easier to hoe between the rows. The picture above shows the clover seedlings around the base of a single Spelt seedling. I then soaked and germinated Broad (Fava) Beans, grew them in the same modules, and planted them out into the polyculture. The picture below shows some of the beds.

Small Scale Grain Growing 11

Grain Polyculture Beds

The polyculture bed in the foreground shows the grid layout, with the grains planted at 12 inch spacings, and the beans planted into the gaps. I have planted the beans in the same rows as the grains, in order to make weed control, and hoeing easier. if you look across the four closest beds it easy to see the different types of grains. The bed on the left is Spelt, next is Cereal Rye. These were planted out reasonably early. The next two beds are of Wheat. The seed for these beds arrived late, and so the seedlings were planted out in October. This is later than I would have liked. The results are clear to see. The grains in the later planted beds have not grown as well. I will get a better feel for how the Wheat compares with the Spelt next year, when they can be planted out at the same time.

Wheat Seedlings grown in a Polyculture

Wheat and Bean Polyculture

What isn’t so clear from the earlier picture is the damage done to the bean seedlings. These have been dug up and eaten, probably by rats. The line of beans on the right side of the growing bed has been particularly badly damaged. Sadly, rats are just one of the hazards with growing grains on a small scale.

Wheat Seedlings Small Scale

Growing Wheat on a Small Scale

The last picture shows one of the last beds to be planted. The germination rate of the Wheat was so good that I had too many seedlings. I decided to plant some of the wheat beds at 12 inches between the rows, and 6 inches within the row. This will help with my long term, Small Scale Grain Growing Experiment, as it will allow me to get an early idea of whether the wider spacing is more productive.

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