Friday, May 14, 2010

The beginning of a wheat patch

For years I've wanted to try growing wheat. This oh-so-elemental grain seemed to me like the last frontier of self-sufficiency and homesteading projects. After all, how many people do you know grow their own wheat?

Northern Idaho is wheat country. Wheat is grown everywhere around us. So why not on our farm?

I wanted to try growing hard red winter wheat, used for making bread. Winter wheat is planted in October, after the danger has passed from predation by the Hessian fly. It overwinters in a dormant stage, then comes up in the spring and ripens in summer.

And I had the perfect place to grow an experimental field of wheat. We have a small (about one-acre) fenced pasture just in front of our house that is roughly triangular in shape. We call this pasture, cleverly, the "triangle pasture." While we sometimes use it for the cattle, mostly it stands empty. What better place to try growing grain?

But the ground is hard as iron and needed to be plowed and disked and cultivated. We needed to kill off the weeds and grass and prepare the bed for planting. Trouble was, we didn't have the equipment to tear up the tough prairie sod. We have a two-bottom plow which would work for the initial tear-up, but it would take hours (possibly days) and we just never seemed to get around to it.

Well, enter our neighbor D. He has this ginormous tractor and he had borrowed an equally ginormous disker from another neighbor, and was engaged in disking his acreage so he could seed it in grass hay for his horses. I asked if he could come and disk up our triangular pasture, which he did this afternoon.

Before. There's an island of debris in the center which D. will have to work around.

First pass.


Obviously this is just the first step. D. will let the disked sod dry a day or two, then come do it again (before he has to return the disker to the neighbor). Then periodically during the summer, we can use our own smaller disker to keep killing weeds as they grow and to further cultivate the dirt. The earliest I can buy two bushels of treated seed wheat is August, and I'll plant in October. Stand by for updates.


  1. This is so great. Blessings as you plant and harvest! And may I be so annoying as to ask... where do you plan on nabbing your seed?

    A fan from Survival blog- Brin

  2. In fact, we just bought our seed wheat two days ago from a local farm supply business. I don't mean they supply regular folks - they supply serious farmers. The seed wheat differs from regular wheat in that it's treated with a fungicide to ensure maximum protection while growing. It's a hard red winter wheat (Paladin variety) and it's resistant to the Hessian fly and nonhybrid to boot. We've had a wet spell in the last couple days and so haven't been able to plant it, but hopefully we can do so tomorrow. We'll just be scattering it by hand the old-fashioned way. No worries, I'll post pictures on the blog (smile).

    - Patrice