Autumn Planted Grains

Autumn Planted Grains

The grains we have in our collection come from a wide range of sources, some have been grown in NZ biodynamically for many many years by expert commercial growers (Milmore Downs), others came via KUSA (curators of ancient grains) in the USA many years ago when we imported a small heritage grain collection. Others have come from grain/seed enthusiasts in this land… Peter from Chantal Organic Wholesalers and David Musgrave of Flax Seed oil fame. 

Grains, just like vegetables and fruit, have over the past 60 years been grown and selected by the multinationals for industrial agriculture systems. One of the results of this has been a huge drop in nutrition. (Obviously another reason for this drop in nutrition is the state of the soils they are being grown on).

Just as there have been a few groups and people over the past 30 years or so committed to collecting the old vegetables and fruit trees, there have also been a very few collectors committed to saving our heritage grains. KUSA in the USA exists to do this and checking out their website is very informing. Lorenz is doing a wonderful job.

We are entering a time where there is an urgency to learn to grow our own grains and change  the way we eat so that we can eat what we grow, or what is grown in our own bio-region, with little processing. If grains are to be a part of our diet we must eat the best in order to be eating enough nutrient dense food to keep us healthy.

I have been collecting information from growers and experts around preferred planting times for grains, and essentially it seems that the longer the grain is in the ground the, longer the roots have to live, grow, forage for nutrients, and nourish the plant, the better and bigger your crop will be.

Preferred Planting Times

If you have a temperate or mild Winter then it is best to plant in Autumn, if you have ice and snow then you may need to plant in Spring. Many South Island grain growers plant in Autumn even though it is colder down there in Winter.

Many of you will be best to do some trialling to find the best times for your own climate and situation. Joseph Land chose to plant his rye in the Autumn to avoid the often wet/humid later Summers that could affect the harvesting in his area if the grain was planted in Spring – generally ripening grains prefer low humidity… encouraging most of us to plant in Autumn to avid the humid mid-Summers.

Some grains are more cold tolerant than others, however all those listed in the Autumn catalogue are reasonable cold tolerant. We will have grains coming on line next year that are less cold tolerant, including some very special hulless barley lines.

We find that when growing grains in Bio-Intensive beds it is always best to be prepared for ravaging birds and so we have on hand when planting cloche hoops and bird netting to cover the beds. We have 10m x10m wide knitted netting which can be used to cover up to 4 or 5 x10m beds at once in a block, or later to net fruit trees when the fruit is ripening.

If you plant the grain at required density (all our packets have the correct amount of seed to plant 10sq metres unless other wise stated) then chop in with a rake and cover with netting well you will get a great germination rate so long as the soil is moist until germination.