The Great Wheat Harvest: The Final Chapter

Epic. I tell ya. Epic.

Failure that is.

Is there any chance you missed my tale of wheat growing? Here’s the posts in their sequential order. Whoa big word.

1. Planting the Wheat

2. Wheat Week 1

3. The Waiting Game

4. Cutting the Wheat

And now for 5. “The Great Wheat Harvest”

“Great” here being more sarcastic than reality. Yes folks its true…I really, um…how do I put this? Hmmm…Kinda stink at growing wheat apparently? Or maybe it’s the fact that I did everything by hand. Quite literally. I cut the dang wheat with hedge trimmers ok? You can laugh at me, it’s ok. Shake your head if you must.

Let me walk you through what I did to harvest these lovely little grains of happy goodness.

Step 1: Take children’s bed sheet and spread it on the ground.

Step 2: Cut a bundle of wheat off of the rope that it has been hanging on in the garage drying for the last few weeks.

Step 3: Take wheat bundle to sheet and start banging it on the sheet as hard as possible.

Step 4: Try not to feel self conscious while doing this while you are standing on a hot pink bed sheet in polka dot rain boots and the neighbors are out.

Step 5: Realize your wheat banging is not producing much results. Opt to watch a YouTube video on how to do this “threshing” correctly.

Step 6: Set the wheat on the sheet and start hitting it with a stick…until your husband invents a much more highly dangerous tool called a “flail”. Yes, it’s really as dangerous as it sounds. Hide yo kids.

Step 7: Realize nothing is really working here and start empathizing with the Egyptians and how hard they must have had to work for a loaf of bread. Sheesh. (Ps- I am not trying to insult anyone, this is clearly only a joke…don’t hate).

Step 8: Notice that you do in fact have a few wheat berries that have fallen off the stalk. Do a happy dance. Continue “flailing” until all wheat bundles are done.

Step 9:  Retrieve floor fan from children’s room. Plug into outlet in side the house and then drag the fan as far as it will go outside. Turn on full speed.

Step 10: Once again, try not to think about how ridiculous you must look with a FAN on your back porch. (Did I mention we’re still in polka dot boots?)

Step 11: Attempt to “Winnow” the wheat. Basically you need to separate the wheat berries from all the chaff. So you basically toss the wheat in the air (in front of the fan) and let the fan blow the chaff away and the wheat berries drop. (You have laid the bed sheet down on the porch as well here).

Step 12: This is so not working.

Step 13: Hand pick out little pieces of the wheat stalk and these strange little stringy things that will give you a sort of wheat splinter. I have a few in my hand right now.

Step 14: Admire what is finally left as the end product. Wheat berries. Ahhh…Perfect for making that beloved bread….if only there was enough…

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You see, when I planted this wheat last year I scattered about 2.5lbs of wheat over an area. Welp. Here’s the kicker. I only harvested 14.5 OUNCES. Bahahahah. That definitely went as planned. Not. Apparently, wheat is suppose to yield 30-50 TIMES its original harvest. Meaning, if you plant 1 pound of wheat, you should theoretically get 30-50 pounds in return. Hey man, I would have been happy to break even here. Go ahead. Laugh again. Just remember I am not one who gives up easily.

At least it is the most prettiest wheat thine eyes e’re did see!! I’ll let you all have one bite of the loaf it makes. Or the bun it makes.

photo 2 (1)

 

I might just have to leave this one to the pro’s. Cuz apparently I lack old fashioned skills.

Hey, at least the kids had a blast watching it grow. What a valuable lesson right? Can I at least get the “Mommy Tried Her Best” award?

Thank you for reading this final chapter. The story has been…entertaining.

Summer Garden 2014 Part 1

Ohhh this is such an exciting time of year. Zucchini, basil, and tomatoes galore! One can never have enough basil, mozzarella and tomato salad. Can I get an amen?!

I am happy (more like thrilled) to announce that my garden is doing WELL this year! I am so excited. I don’t go comparing my garden with others, so it might not be as fantastic as it could be but I’m satisfied nonetheless.

Shall we have a tour of sorts?

For starters, I thought that I would update that indeed, I CAN grow radishes. Just takes a few tries. In case you missed my radish growing saga, you can check that out here. Much better the second time around.

Radish

 

Next up we have some lovely yellow squash coming along nicely. In fact in probably a day or two I will be overrun with squash as there is a good 10-12 squash all growing the same size at the moment. I am not complaining 🙂 Funny thing about this squash is that I planted zucchini seeds and they are coming up as yellow squash. Someone must have packed those wrong! Lol. Oh well. I do have a couple of zuc plants as well.

squash

Next we have mega lettuce. Aka Christmas tree lettuce. AKA needs to be eaten soon lettuce. This is technically a spring crop, hence why it is bolting and the size of a small Christmas tree. Nevertheless, this lovely red lettuce tastes good with my new radishes in a salad! (Lea is there for size comparison by the way).

leetuce

Next we have my first real “crop” as I actually planted more than 5 of it. Most of the other plants in the garden I have only planted a few plants, even though in reality I could plant a whole field of lettuce if I really wanted to. You’re welcome to come down and do so yourself if you are so inclined. Lol. So…this crop here is sweet potatoes. 100 lovely plants. Last year we planted 20 plants, so we have majorly upped that! Sweet potatoes grew so well in the woodchips last year and they lasted forever (ya, until like yesterday when I finally ate the last one…) So, we’re hoping to get a good store of these for this winter and maybe even try canning some? Anyone know of ways to preserve sweet potatoes?

sweets

Those are the mains of the garden right now, although I do have some tomatoes, cukes, strawberries, kale, and beans planted as well. As soon as my spring crops clear out (still eatin the spinach and kale!) I’ll put in some more summer time goodness. Oh! I almost forgot we also planted a bunch of watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupes as well! It would be so sweet if we actually got any of those to eat!

Oh and I almost forgot! We harvested the wheat! If you missed my wheat growing story, check out the planting here , it’s growing herewaiting

WHEAT

I can say we have made some progress since last year as far as garden knowledge goes, however I still have a long way to go. Ever so slowly we keep going…I am truly thankful for anything that comes out of my backyard. It always tastes better when you know you have planted a seed, watered, and watched it grow (unless you are talking about mustard greens in which case…well…those are probably better left un-grown, lol.)

So to sum up, here are a few things I have learned about gardening this past year. (Yes I realize they are very rudimentary knowledge…).

  1. Water direct planted seeds daily. Last year this was such a chore since we didn’t have a water line to the garden and walking 200 ft with watering cans is impractical and hard! Thankfully, Alex was able to get me a water line much closer to the garden and so now we can water much more easily with a sprinkler.
  2. Fertilize! We are using fish emulsion. Seems to be working really well, especially to get plants going.
  3. Plant what grows and skip things that have trouble. I replanted cukes this year even though last year they were devastated by the cucumber beetle. That’s pretty much the only pest I had, except the tomato hornworm. The beetles were impossible to get rid of organically and there were a million of them. So, if my cukes get wiped out again this year I will probably just skip planting them. I would rather buy them from someone without those pests and grows without pesticides than resort to using chemicals. If anyone else has ideas on how to get rid of them let me know! The hornworms are easy enough to pick and smoosh and they never made enough damage. Lea and I had fun last year scouting them out. They are pretty creepy looking though!
  4. Plant companion plants. I have tried to do this a bit this year, although I still have a ways to go…not sure i see the “benefits” yet…but maybe its the lack of problems that is the real answer! I have nasturtiums growing all over the garden, I am looking forward to seeing some of those edible flowers soon!

That’s it for now! Check back soon for Part 2 (Probably the mid-season harvest pics!)

Erica

 

Time Again to Wait

I have so many exciting things to share with you, I could barely decide what I should start with! Maybe I’ll just give you the full-fanny here and wear your poor eyes out reading. Nah, it’s not that bad! It mostly all has to do with our Spring projects which are coming along quite nicely.

Firstly, I’ve GOT to tell you about the wheat! Oh, I am so uber (or is it oober?) excited about this! I don’t really even know how to describe my feelings entirely. Yes, I have feelings in respect to my wheat. I know, I am crazy. Mostly it is excitement. But there is another layer…a deeper layer. Excitement only scratches the surface. There is this awe that abounds in my heart when I see something that I planted from a tiny seed turn into something so beautiful. While it might be a bit of a far stretch, its kind of like watching a child grow. We oohh and ahh over their firsts. First crawl, first step, first smile. You get me, right? Well for me, watching a plant grow is like that. From the first sprout, to the first flower, to the first fruits. It is incredible. It is also as equally disappointed when it doesn’t work out. When you plant a seed and it doesn’t grow. Think about that. Deep man, deep. However, it appears so far that my wheat is doing ok. Seems to be growing happily, unbothered. The commercial fields around us also have wheat growing and while its definitely cool to watch, it’s nothing like watching your own. Well just the other day we were driving down our road and I commented to Alex that I wish my wheat was growing the little wheat heads like the wheat around us. He replied that MINE WAS! I hadn’t been out to look at it in a few days. Of course as soon as we got home, I rushed out to see it. Sure enough. Man, my heart was so full of joy. My little patch of wheat babies. I’ve also got some sort of pea plant growing in the wheat as well…not sure how it got there but its pretty! Now to wait…until the middle of Summer when harvest time will be here.

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We also got a small spring garden in. Unfortunately, either the weather has been bad or my soil is bojangled because stuff hasn’t exactly grown excepttoo much. Not much has actually died, its just not growing. Except the radishes. Apparently I can grow radishes. Not that they are entirely my favorite food…there is a lovely sweetness to a freshly picked radish. Not like the store-bought. I’ll continue to wait for the fruits of my labors. Here’s a lovely squash plant starting!

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In addition to the garden, Alex was able to run a PVC water line closer to the garden. Having a garden over 200ft away from the nearest hose spigot was proving to be a problem. So he dug a trench and ran a PVC line from the well pump out to the middle of the yard and put a hose connection on it. So now we can run another hose from the middle of the yard, and much closer to the garden. Oh, what a blessing this is! The trench for this was an extension of the trench he dug to get electricity to his garage. This was a huge undertaking, but we are nearly done with that project as well! The girls thoroughly enjoyed the small river we had in the backyard for a few days as the rain filled up the 20in deep trench! It will be so great to have electricity in the garage for a number of reasons! I’m excited for the wood working projects that will come out of the garage, esp in the winter months when homestead work is slower! We can finally have a space heater so we can work out there!

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On a final homestead related note…we finally were able to order some trees. We got crepe myrtles, Japanese cherries, red maples, pecan, walnut and a couple of forsythia bushes. We actually just finished planting all of those last night! Phew. 20 trees total! I really did help, I promise…I didn’t just take all the pictures. We also ordered some fruit trees! We got three apple trees and three blueberry bushes. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of those yet still. I am so thrilled that we are making some progress on our homestead dreams! Nevertheless, trees take a while to grow! The waiting game for apples, blueberries or nuts will be a long one! We will be sure to keep you updated on how those lovely little trees are coming along!

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In the meantime of all of this, we are happily enjoying our newest addition. In fact, even just last night when we were planting the trees I had the baby strapped to my front in a carrier and we were digging holes together. He is really a great baby and we are so blessed by that! The girls have finally adjusted (I think) and are very smitten by him.

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That’s it for now! If I could ever miraculously figure out how to get more than 5 minutes on the computer at any given time I would update more often. Alas, I suppose its the stage of life we are in eh? I am forced to choose between and shower or posting this update. At least I showered last night…

Wheat Week 1 and a Few Garden Goodies

Since I know you all think I am mostly crazy, I thought I would share my journey of growing wheat with you. I know…just what you care to read first thing in the morning. Haha.

Oh well.

We were gone for this past weekend and I was anxious to get home to check on my wheat to see how it was doing. We got home and and it was pitch black night, so I had to wait until the morning. Mornings haven’t been as glorious around here since the whole “it’s still dark outside when I have to wake up” time of year is here. I personally hate that. We should all awake when the sun comes up. Also, the fog has been so heavy lately, I haven’t seen a sunrise in a few weeks. Sigh. At least that was one of the beautiful things to look forward to in waking up before God created us to. (That’s my two cents at least!). There is still coffee…unless like this week, we ran out. It’s been a rough couple of days. Do you hear me? No coffee, no sunrises. Cold feet. Headaches. Cranky kids.

We were suppose to be talking about wheat. Oh yah. So, yesterday as soon as the sun did finally find it’s place high in the sky making our backyard less freaky (because who likes to walk out in the dark fog? Nah me) I went out and checked on the wheat. Oh goody goody gum drops its growing! The blades of wheat were wet with little droplets of dew and the air smelled of country freshness. Alright, I’ll admit I wrote that last line just to make sure you were still following…and to make sure you were fully convinced of my nuttiness. Either way, it’s looking great! I am happy! There are a few bare patches that I might go back and re-seed but overall, I think we’re looking good. I need to get a bale of hay and cover this wheat to help protect it from the coming winter. Anyone want to bring me a bale of hay? I am imagining strapping that onto the top of my granny car. Hilarious. Like the time I picked up compost in Rubbermaid containers and put them in my trunk. Classic.

Anyways, here’s your photos for the day.

Wheat Week 1
Wheat Week 1

And now for a few garden goodies…

Garlic Shoot
Garlic Shoot!
Lettuce Almost Ready for Harvesting!
Big bowl of basil for dehydrating! Still coming!

Stay tuned!!

Planting the Wheat and Garlic

I kinda laughed out loud just typing that title. When Alex and I first got married 6 years ago (in 4 days), I never had in my mind to make bread. Let alone grow wheat. I was probably in that mindset of some thinking “I didn’t even know you COULD grow wheat.” Our lives have changed a lot. Our priorities, dreams and goals are way different than they were when we got married. I am not sure I would even be friends with my “old self.” We are just too different. Hahah. I am sure a lot of us feel that way.

But alas, we have embraced the country life. The slowed down, not too many commitments kind of life. As we have mentioned many times on this blog, one of our goals in moving to the country (and buying 5 acres) was moving towards self-sufficiency. No, we may not ever reach full self-sufficiency because of some challenges that we face. Nevertheless, in the ways that I can reach it, bodiggidy I am going to try. One of those slightly crazy ideas is growing our own wheat and cereal grains (like rye, oats, barley, etc). In order to ever be able to do it large scale we will need a significant amount of tools and or machinery. Girl aint cutting down an acre of wheat with some garden snips. However, as it has been with everything else…before I dream big, I need to act practically. Baby steps and experiments this year, remember?

So. As it is, Alex went out with his shovel and rake and hand tilled me a plot of land about 12×18 ft for our “experiment” wheat growing. I ordered 5lbs of Hard Red Winter Wheat (as all I currently had in the kitchen was Spring Wheat). Thankfully, it had been raining for 4 days prior to our digging, so it was much easier than trying to do it on a dry week. Our soil is in pretty sad condition. We did not want to plant the wheat in our garden bed because it wouldn’t be ready for harvest until next July sometime. I didn’t want to take up space in my Spring bed with an experimental crop. After Alex tilled, I hand broadcasted about 2 1/2 lbs of the wheat. I really have no idea how much I should have used I just eye-balled it. I raked the seeds in a 1/2in to an inch deep. And it kept raining…so no watering for me! Yay! This was last Saturday. I went and checked on the wheat today, and I am happy to say that IT SPROUTED! Which means it germinated and is GROWING. Can I get a hallelujah!? I was half expecting to look out the window and see millions of birds feasting on all my seeds, but I haven’t seen that YET! So lets hope they don’t get a clue…or I might loose my precious wheat.

Wheat Plot
Wheat Seeds Sprouting!

Apparently…now, I am not a gardener…yet. But wheat will grow 30-50 times its original quantity. So like, if I planted one pound, I could get up to 50lbs back! Well, I planted just over 2 lbs and I will be thrilled to DEATH if I get 50lbs. Ok, I hope I don’t die, but I might cry. Happy sobs. And in case you are wondering…winter wheat is planted a few weeks before the first frost is expected. It gets a head start on growing, then you cover it for the winter and it sits dormant through the winter. Then, when the first warmth of spring comes it pops back awake and keeps on growing. As said above, harvest time is usually mid June-July.

When we bought the house, all the fields around us were planted with wheat. It was so awesome to watch it grow and mature. Granted, I don’t think I would actually eat the wheat they plant across the street from our house…it is a beautiful thing to watch grow. Near harvest time it gets very dried out and sways in the breeze. Hard to describe the sound, but dry wheat blowing in the breeze is a lovely, lovely sound. I’d say its as beautiful as hearing ocean waves. Sometimes it even sounds like that.

I’ll keep you posted on the wheat plot journey. And then, hopefully next Summer you can come over for some freshly baked bread. Ha. So let’s review. 6 years ago Erica bought white bread. 4 years ago, Erica started buying wheat bread. 3 years ago Erica started making bread occasionally. 2 years ago Erica really got nuts and started grinding her own grain from whole wheat berries and making bread. 1 year ago Erica started dreaming of growing wheat to grind to bake bread. Present day, Erica planted wheat to grow to cut, thresh, winnow, dry, grind, knead, bake and finally EAT a HOMEGROWN loaf of bread. Told ya, I’ve lost it!

In other breadish news…I finally sent off for a new sourdough starter. Praying I keep this one alive. I have missed Emily Elizabeth so much. My first love. I hope it will do better during the cooler months and when the dang fruit fly population has died off. Then, next summer I will try to do the refrigerator thing. More on that next summer, ok? For now…Say a little prayer for meee.

And in other news…Lea and I just got done planting a few rows of garlic. Dude, had I known growing stuff like garlic was so easy…well, at least the ACT of planting is easy…growing, we will have to see. You just literally take a head of garlic and break it into individual cloves and then plant those cloves. Each clove will yield a head of garlic. Shhweeet. Now, I learned a lesson that most garlic you get from the store is treated with an anti-sprouting agent, so basically they won’t grow a green leaf out of your garlic container. Not sure exactly why that would be bad, but…it is. So, now I know and I won’t be buying garlic from the store unless its organic (cuz they can’t spray organic ones). I was able to find some organic garlic and I put a clove in a little wet towel for a few days to make sure it sprouted and sure enough it did! Yay. So Lea and I dug two trenches and planted about 36 cloves of garlic. Then we covered it with a couple inches of good composted woodchips and soil . Those babies will sprout (hopefully!) and grow a few inches before the frosts come, then like the wheat, they will just hang out until Spring until they start growing again for a late summer harvest. I’m excited and have high hopes for these babies. I mean, I spent a total of $2 on 4 heads of organic garlic and a whopping $5 on wheat seeds. So my investments are small right now. We planted the garlic in what will be the apple orchard because garlic and onions planted near fruit trees are EXCELLENT pest deterrents. Guess the bugs don’t like Italian food. Ok, not funny…I know.

Garlic Clove
Garlic Clove
Lea planting garlic!
Lea planting garlic!

Welp, ill wrap it up here. Lea wants my help folding a pile of laundry. She loves folding laundry. What a kid…oh and El just woke from a nap. So, quiet mommy time=OVER.

See you soon!