Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The wheat experiment

Hubby and I had a great conversation with a couple over dinner the other night. You know, one of those, 'the world is coming to an end and you'd better have your food storage' kind of conversations. It was fun.

So we got to talking. Would it be possible for a family to grow enough wheat for a year? Is it even possible in this day of large tractors and automated sprinklers for someone to take on the task. We both took it as a challenge. (It worked out nice that way, because what we were about to do - would take all of us.) We embarked on a grand experiment. We decided to plant, grown, and harvest our yearly wheat supply.

But where do we start? How much do we plant? And a hundred other questions popped up. Hubby spent a good amount of time on line and on the phone figuring out the answers. I kind of sat back and waited to see what his commitment level was. I knew this was going to be work.

So after all that, he came up with a formula. 1100 square feet of ground will produce enough wheat for 2 loaves a bread a week for a year. Since we eat upwards of FOUR loaves a bread a week, we would need 2200 square feet of ground.

With tape measures in hand we set off to lay out our fields of gold. Because we already had an abundant crop of weeds we had to do a lot of burning. This helped to kill both the weeds and weed seed making it so much easier to till the ground. If we didn't have a tiller we would have turned the soil with a shovel. (Thank heaven for a tiller!)

We tilled once, spread organic material and tilled again. Our horse, Goldie, is our main source of organic material. The problem with using horse poop is that it is too acidic to use fresh. You have to let it -- what's the right word?? - age before you can use it. It takes two years of - aging - before it is good for plants. Luckily, we had some 'aged' poop and used that. (Side note: I offered to call a dairy farmer in the area and ask for a load of cow manure. Cow manure can be used without aging. However, my hubby refused to haul someone else's crap onto our property. He is such a snob.)

We ended up with two planing areas. The first one is on the side of the house - we call it the east field.

The other one is in the pasture area - we call that the south field. (Photo unavailable at this time.)

Our next hurdle was finding seed. We really wanted hard white wheat. But we couldn't find it anywhere. We tried several seed stores and a few farmer's outlets; but to no avail. Finally, Hubby tracked down this back at the IFA in Nephi.

It's soft white wheat. We'll see how it works out. I guess one of the main differences is that this wheat is not as drought tolerant. So we'll have to water it when it gets real hot in the summer. That gives us a couple weeks to find a long enough hose to reach the south field.

We put the seed in the spreader. Yeah that's my good measuring cup - we'll talk about that later.

Then we walked at around in straight lines to sew the seed. The rule of thumb is one seed for every square inch. Or, 6-7 pounds of wheat for 1100 square feet. We filled it with half the wheat needed and spread it from East to West.

Then we turned it and walked from North to South.

Lastly, we had to rake in the seed. This took a while.

Finally, we are keeping it damp until the seedlings start to sprout. Keep your fingers crossed for us. I'll keep you up-to-date on our progress. Let's hope we can all keep a smile on our face.


No comments: