There are a variety of benefits that can be derived from consuming a variety of whole grains on a regular basis. In addition to the protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that are inherently found in grains, eating these foods regularly can even reduce your risk of a multitude of health ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, to name just a few.
While you can certainly purchase organic or natural whole grains from a variety of sources, such as the Co-operative Food and farmer’s markets, if you really want to have control over what types of grains you consume and you want to save money, or if you simply prefer getting your hands dirty and gardening every chance that you get, you can grow your own. Continue reading for a few tips to get you started.
No Matter What Grain You Choose…
Regardless of what grain you choose to grow, the planting process is surprisingly simple. Just start by working the soil into a great seedbed that is ready to support plant life. Spread your preferred seeds by hand or, to make things easier and distribute the seeds more evenly, use a crank-type seeder tool.
Next, get the seeds to fall into the first 2 inches of soil. Do so by raking the soil gently, making sure you are moving the seeds down into the dirt. Finally, to maintain adequate moisture levels and to keep out weeds, add a layer of loose straw mulch at a depth of about 2 to 4 inches.
To grow specific types of grains, follow the tips below.
No article on growing grains would be complete without mentioning wheat. After all, it is the most popular and most widely used grain, used to make breads and what is known as seitan, which is a delicious and versatile mock-meat that is popular amongst vegetarians and vegans.
To begin, make sure your soil has a pH of 6.4. Plant your spring wheat at the start of the growing season, as it will be ripe and ready by the middle or latter part of the summer. On the other hand, if you are growing winter wheat, plant the seeds in the autumn. The wheat will grow but remain green up until the early part of the winter. Then it will go dormant until it emerges once more in the spring before you can enjoy harvesting it around June.
Of all the cereal grains out there, oats are the lowest in carbohydrates and the highest in protein, making them perfect for breakfast and for snacks. Make sure your soil is well-drained and fertile and that you are going to be able to provide your oats with plenty of moisture. Oats also rely upon a cool climate to grow their best.
Generally, it is a good idea to plant oats in the early part of spring. Plant roughly 2 or 3 lbs of seeds for every 1,000 square foot of growing space for the best results.
Yet another hugely versatile and delicious grain is rice, which is also packed with protein. You will need to start by soaking your rice seeds for a full 24 hours. Then plant the seeds in flats containing mucky, moist soil about one month prior to the last frost of the season.
To set up your raised garden beds in preparation for your rice, you should use organic soil and thick mulch that is also organic. Next, push the mulch to the side and transplant your rice on 9-inch centres. Then make sure you water your rice at least once or twice a week, giving it a good 1 to 1.5 inches of water, including from rain. Also be sure you continue giving the plant plenty of water once you start seeing it flower, but once the grain begins to harden, you should cut back on the amount of water provided.
These are just three of the many popular grains that you can grow in your own garden, provided that you have the space and the resources to do so. What you will find is that, with the consistent reserve of healthy grains, you’ll be able to create healthier meals for your whole family.
If you could grow or you do grow your own grains which would/do you grow and why. I would love to know!