aking flour from the ground up can be a rewarding and educational experience. Following time honored traditions of sowing, reaping, milling, etc, can give you a sense of history and help you realize what our ancestors had to go through just to make a loaf of bread.
Planting Wheat in Your Own Back Yard
Planting a plot approximately 10 feet by 10 feet will, when all is said and done, yield between 10 and 25 loaves of bread. To begin, find a nice backyard plot and choose the type of wheat you wish to plant. In the United States two varieties are grown, white and red. Red wheat is more common. Red wheat also produces bread with a much more intense flavor. Consider the advantages of growing winter wheat as opposed to spring variety.
Winter wheat can be planted from late-September to mid-October. It is the preferred variety because it tends to be more nutritious than spring wheat, protects the soil in the winter, and has less competition from the weeds in the spring. Try to plant early enough to get a good root system growing before winter dormancy sets in, but not so early that flies and pests become a problem. Spring wheat is planted in early spring and is most commonly found in the northern reaches of the country where the intensely cold winters create problems for winter wheat.
Finding a source for seeds can be a problem. Seed supply houses usually sell in large quantities to farmers and are not geared to individuals wanting to make a small plot in their back yard. The seeds they provide can also be laced with fungicide. Still, this is the best place to begin. You can also find wheat seed at your local natural food stores. The grain in the bins may be planted as well as eaten, just be sure you know whether you are getting winter or spring wheat so that you plant in the proper season.
Try to plant the seed on good rich soil. The ground should be relatively even. This can be done with a rototiller, or more naturally with a shovel and a rake. There are three methods of planting, one is the time honored broadcast method in which 3 ounces or so of seed is "sprinkled" over the garden bed for every 100 square feet. This is about 1 seed for every square inch. Planting density is largely dependent on the richness and moistness of the soil. More wheat per square feet will absorb more nutrients and moisture. Be sure to rake the patch to cover the seed and protect it from hungry birds. Another method, called drilling, creates a hole about every six inches and plants several seeds per hole. The plants come up in a bunch but spread out over the bare area. This method allows for weeding when the plants are young, but is more labor intensive. Similarly, tightpacked rows (about 6 inches apart) can be made in the soil and the wheat seed spread up and down the rows in the manner of beets or carrots.
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