Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Adventures in Grainland, part one

Certain things catch your eye,
But pursue only those
that capture your heart.
-old Native American saying

organic heirloom seed packets from Bakercreek

We are embarking on a collaborative effort with our neighbor of villa sobrante to grow some larger crops of heirloom grains.  How to prepare the soil was the first question to come up since we wanted to prepare several 5' x 20' beds and didn't want to break our backs double digging in the process.  So we have had a few sessions working on the beds, mowing the waist high grass, tilling the soil with a rototiller, spreading horse manure over the beds, watering heavily, and then letting it sit for a few days. We went back to turn the manure under and found that the soil looks really good.  Using a rototiller is something new for us since we have thus far prepared our beds by hand, either double digging or sheet mulching, it's definitely a big experiment.  We ended up planting quinoa, red, green, and orange amaranth, black beans, and chickpeas in one area. Nearby we will plant sweet and popping corn.  I was extremely excited at the prospect of growing sorghum for pressing and making syrup but that quickly faded when I found out it takes 50 gallons of pressed juice from the stalks to make 5 gallons of syrup (100 plants make only 6.5 gallons of juice).  Anyhow we may try growing the grain sorghum which has a much higher yield. 

three smaller beds freshly double dug for black beans and chickpeas

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