~ Seed for GRAINS FOR HOME GROWERS ~
It is actually possible to grow your own grain on a very small scale, without too much work - if you grow the right crops. More information on our Alternative Grains Project can be found in our 2002 Newsletter (you can download it from the 'Newsletters' area).
We have added some new Quinoa varieties, these are from our latest trials and are both productive and very pretty.
The amaranth and quinoa are sown and harvested similarly - see the packet and your invoice for full details, as well as the harvest instructions in our reference section.
'Mixed Grain Amaranths'
For the busy gardener, these are pretty good- they make up to 200,000 seed per plant, are very easy to thresh. The seeds don't need grinding - they are so tiny that you just add them to whatever you are cooking. Instructions are included, and there's a illustrated guide on this website in the Library.
This is our own special mixed population bred from our trials - we have been working on this for twelve years. It produces early for us, and gives a good yield of seed that is easily threshed.
Very filling and nutritious, we add it to rice when cooking, it adds both flavour and protein. Simple harvesting instructions supplied.
Start from late April in pots as though tomatoes, & plant out when bigger - they are very robust once six inches tall and romp away even in cool weather.
60cm tall mix. Spectacular red - pink - yellow flowers. High-yielding and early.
Order GrMG - 200 seed £
~ Growing QUINOA as a grain ~
Quinoa is a high-protein grain you can easily grow at home. It is cooked just like rice, and as well as tasting good, it is rich in lysine, giving a good nutritional balance to your meal.
The grain is naturally protected from insects, rodents and birds by a yellow coating that tastes bitter. This is easily removed – by soaking the seed overnight and rinsing a few times in cold water before cooking.
It's no more hassle than soaking dried beans before you use them, and means that you lose less of the crop to the beasties in your garden.
This is a diverse population of different colours all selected for an open flower-shape that sheds water easily and helps grow good seed even in slightly damper climates (like, for example, the west coast of Wales where we are . . .)
Note that at first you might question the name - we certainly did to start with. As it starts to grow, it seems to be just different shades of green. But wait patiently! As the seed ripens, they do indeed go all different colours, making an impressive display.
It does very well for us, reaching about 6 feet tall by the end of July, even in colder years. The plants flower in July/August, and seed is ready in Sept/Oct.
Bred for home gardeners.
Order GrRQ - 1.5 g - lots of tiny seed £
From South America, & has very open seed-heads that help shed the rain. A good choice for the wetter or windier parts of the UK, we find that this is always a heavy producer.
Quinoa seeds are yellow when harvested (see picture) and are soaked in water to remove the coating of saponins before cooking (otherwise they taste 'soapy'). This is why bought seed is white - it's been pre-washed for you. The advantage of this 'soapiness' is that it puts off the birds from eating the seed, so less need for netting or small boys throwing stones!
Both drought and wet tolerant. Instructions for seed collection included but it's pretty simple!
Order GrTQ - 1.5g - lots of tiny seed £
Our Super- Detailed
Quinoa Harvest Instructions:
This may make it sound complicated but it really isn't. We've added these very detailed instructions for those of you who have never tried this sort of thing before.
To collect seed: Once the seed starts to form and the flowerheads start to change colour , you'll notice if you rub the flowerheads with your palms, some seed can be rubbed out easily. It's now time to cut the heads and put somewhere airy to wilt, then beat out over a bowl. Do not leave the seeds too long on the plant or they will germinate in-situ! Different varieties will cross if grown at the same time, but you might not care about that - you can let them cross and you'll end up with your own particular new variety.
We actually hang the cut flowerheads up to dry out a bit for a few days after cutting - it makes the seeds come loose as the plant wilts. You can lay them on a sheet instead, but if lying on a sheet, turn the heads frequently to stop them going mouldy. Good airflow at low temperatures is the key to avoiding mould. Removing leaves and big bits of stem really helps with this too.
If it's all going mouldy or won't dry much, or you get bored of waiting for it to dry, don't worry, just go on to the next step: To actually get the seeds off the heads, we wear rubber gloves and rub the heads between our palms, which knocks out the seeds, although quite a lot of other bits come off too.
Then pass the whole mess through a garden riddle (1/4 or 1/2 inch mesh) to get rid of the big bits. (If you don't have a riddle, pick out the big bits by hand.) Seeds and flowers should fall through the riddle. Either bin or re-rub the big stuff left behind.
Now you should have a pile of seeds in their flower bracts that is a bit dry but still needs drying further. Spread it out in a thin layer on a tea-tray or baking tray, and put somewhere to dry. A quick stir as you pass each day will make sure it all dries well. Once dry the seed can be easily rubbed out of the flowers (gloves again) and then winnowed with 2 buckets.
(PS: Don't know what winnowing is? See 'Threshing and Winnowing' under 'SeedSaving' in the side-bar to the left.)