My bread baking obsession knows no boundaries. Last year, I grew wheat. Wheat! In my backyard!
Due to a few things that I still don't think I'm capable of speaking about, I never got around to sharing my wheat growing experience last year but I finally decided that even though I'm missing some photos it might be fun to share anyway.
In October of 2009, I read about winter wheat being a good restorative ground cover for the garden--even a small home garden--and I decided I must give it a try. I found a website that sold planting wheat in small quantities and ordered a couple of pounds. It took far longer to come in the mail than I anticipated and I worried it would be too late to plant it by the time it finally arrived the first week of November. It probably was a little late, but I planted the wheat and covered it with thick plastic that the sun could shine through and heat up the soil below. It worked! Within a week or so, the wheat had sprouted. Another week of pale sunlight filtering through the plastic and the wheat was about two inches long--just the right height to go into winter.
Like other grass, the wheat appeared to die and everytime I took the dogs out, I couldn't help but look skeptically at the brown stuff in my garden bed. Slowly, the months ticked by and in April the wheat began to grown and turn green again.
It grew very quickly passing by my twelve inch ruler in just a few weeks.
Wheat kernals (seeds? berries?) soon began forming and I got really excited. The wheat was thick and lush until a friend's dog crashed through it. Not once. Not twice. But three times flattening and taking out over 75% of the wheat. I felt a little crushed too.
By the second half of June, the wheat remaining began to turn golden. I liked to go outside and run my hands up the stalks feeling the little kernals hard between my fingertips.
The harvest was meager. I couldn't bear to take a picture of the wheat while it was still standing in rustling pale gold stalks because there was so little of it. I cut it down and made a few bundles by tying them with a wheat straw.
As the wheat had been growing, I hadn't been sure how I'd remove it from the stalks until one night as I was reading Maia "Little House on the Prarie" I remembered the scene from "Farmer Boy" about the threshing floor. We didn't have flails but we had brooms!
We tucked the sheaves in between a sheet and beat the holy heck out of that wheat.
It took effort but it worked.
Soon, we were left with a bowl of wheat and chaff and again I remembered "Farmer Boy."
We didn't have a fanning mill but we had an ordinary house fan. I brought it outside, pulled up a chair and turned it on. I let a handful pour out of my hand back into the bowl and as it went back into the bowl, all of the chaff blew out onto the deck. A little messy perhaps, but it did the job.
There wasn't very much when all was said and done but I ground it all up and there was just enough to make one very small loaf of bread.
And it was good.