Grains & Cover Crops

For information on growing buckwheat, rye, millet, clover, vetch, and oats, please see their respective variety pages


Amaranth

Amaranthus spp.

Amaranth has been grown as a staple crop for at least 8,000 years in Central American cultures. Amaranth has many valuable qualities: (1) high content of lysine-rich protein, (2) high mineral and vitamin content, and (3) ability to grow at high temperatures when many other crops become unproductive.

Pest Control: Try using amaranth as a trap crop or decoy crop for cucumber beetles, which are highly attracted to amaranth. This strategy may reduce the number of beetles on cucurbits planted nearby.

Culture: Amaranth is planted at about the same time as corn. Two weeks after the last frost date sow seed 1/4 to 3/8 in. deep, 1 in. apart in rows 2-3 ft. apart. Thin to 4-10 in. apart. The seeds are quite small and the soil must be kept moist until the crop has germinated. Once plants are established they can withstand dry soil. Too much nitrogen causes amaranth plants to lodge. Amaranth is a nitrate accumulator, so avoid any synthetic nitrogen. Plant height is very dependent on soil fertility and moisture content.

Seed Sowing Tip: For ease of sowing, place seeds in a salt shaker and sprinkle seeds into the row.

Seed Harvest: Seed heads mature unevenly. Some early seed may be collected by "massaging" the seed heads above a bucket. To harvest later maturing seed wait until after frost to cut the seed heads. Thresh the seed heads (while wearing a dust mask), screen out the chaff, and winnow the seed. Freshly harvested seed may have a high moisture content. Spread the seed in thin layers until it has fully cured.

Preparation: Grind grain in a flour mill, sprout it, pop it like popcorn, or use it in hot cereal.

Seed Savers: Amaranth is primarily self-pollinated. Separate varieties by at least 150 ft. for pure seed.

Packet: 2 g (about 1700 seeds) sows 65-130 ft.


Rice

Oryza sativa

Culture: Rice needs nitrogen-rich soil. Rice does not need to be flooded--flooding is traditionally used for weed control--but plants will need an inch of rain or irrigation per week. Direct seed or transplant healthy seedlings, rows 9-12 in. apart, 6 in. in rows. Keep well-weeded--don't let grass weeds become mixed up in your rice!

Harvest: Finches and other birds love rice, so use bird netting to protect the mature seedheads. Harvest when seeds are brown, gently pulling mature seeds off the stalks, harvesting several times over a period of a few days. For eating, rice needs to be de-hulled, which requires specialized machinery. For information on rice dehulling attachments for Corona Grain Mills, see this page >>


Sorghum

Sorghum bicolor

We cannot ship sorghum to Canada.

Classification and Historical Notes: Sorghum originated in Africa, where it has been cultivated since 2,200 B.C. Though sorghum may have been grown in the U.S. as early as 1700, the first recorded introduction was by William R. Prince of Flushing, NY in 1853. By 1859 it was grown in 32 states. There are four main classes of sorghum and many cultivars: (1) cane sorghum with sweet stalks used for making syrup, (2) grain sorghum used for feed or for making flour or cereal, (3) broom corns, and (4) grass sorghum used for pasturing. Sorghum has excellent resistance to drought due to its extensive root system. It is a valuable crop in dry areas since it will produce grain where corn may fail.

Culture: Sorghum is planted in the same fashion as corn, with similar spacing. (See corn section.) Sow seeds 1/2-3/4 in. deep.

Seed Harvest: Seed is mature for harvest when the seed stalk has started to dry. Cut the stalk, allow to dry further under cover, strip the seeds by hand, and winnow to clean. Grain sorghum can be used like flour corn. It is especially good for making pancake flour.

Syrup Harvest: In the fall, strip the leaves, and after cutting the cane into convenient lengths, crush the cane and press out the juice into a pot. Cook to reduce the liquid until it reaches the consistency of maple syrup. The sweet canes of cane sorghum can be peeled and chewed like candy--we like to plant a small patch for snacking.

Seed Savers: Isolate 1/2 mile from other sorghum, broom corn, grass and sudan grass.

Packet: 7 g (about 350 seeds) sows 50 ft.


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