Cereals Gardening

How to Grow Grains in Your Backyard

One of the benefits of being stuck at home is how it allowed us to discover new and interesting hobbies right in our comfort zones. Home gardening is one of them! In fact, a new report found that 51% of Canadians now grow at least one type of fruit or vegetable at home. Homeowners are not only enjoying the fresh flavors of their organic produce, they are also able to relax and exercise through gardening.

You can definitely reap a lot of benefits from cultivating your own plants. It can be more cost-effective since you can eat high-quality food at a cheaper price. For instance, the cost of a cup of homegrown vegetable sprouts rarely exceeds $0.25. Moreover, you are in charge of the growth of your plants, so you’re assured that each harvest is truly fresh and organic. So, if you want to start or expand your home garden, then you can start with a classic staple: grains!

You Reap What You Sow: Grains

There are different types of grains, such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley and other cereal grains. These products are typically used as sources of carbohydrates, such as pasta, cereals, tortillas, oatmeal, and bread. Whole grains are also especially revered for their nutritional value. Products that do not go through the refining process are often rich in B vitamins, iron, zinc, and dietary fiber! Furthermore, this article highlights that modern cooking tools such as Instant Pots make grains super easy and convenient to use. Thus, you can enjoy a fresh farm-to-table experience in just a few steps every night!

Among all the grains, millet, corn and wheat are the easiest ones to cultivate in your home garden. Millet can yield produce even in poor soil. Plus, it can mature in just 30 days! This grain prefers to be planted during the spring and the summer seasons. On the other hand, corn is the easiest to grow among all the grains and also requires the least amount of work to harvest. You can just take the kernels off the cob by hand! Finally, wheat is not only easy to grow, it’s also a high yielder. Gardeners can expect more harvest compared to the number of seeds that they have planted.

How to Plant Three Easy Grains

(Panicum miliaceum)

Fully mature millet with brown seeds.
Fully mature millet. Photo: Jschnable, Wikimedia Commons

1. You can start sowing millet in your backyard during late springtime. Make sure you prepare a well-draining soil for the seeds.

2. Space the seeds 2 inches (5 cm) apart in rows 1 foot (30 cm) apart.

3. Cover the millet seeds with at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil.

4. Water as needed. Add nitrogen-rich compost as the millet grows.

5. You can harvest the produce by hand when the grass has turned golden brown.

(Zea mays amylacea and Z. m. dentata)

Corn plant showing corn cob
Corn or maize. Photo: Denisse Leon, Unsplash

1. Start by preparing the top 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) of the garden bed during the warmer months.

2. Sow the seeds around 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep.

3. Space them out from other seeds by at least 3 inches (8 cm), while the rows should be 3 feet (90 cm) apart. Afterwards, cover the seeds with soil.

4. Till the soil underneath the surface. Do not go too deep to avoid damaging the roots of the plants.

5. Water regularly and apply fertilizer once the plants are two feet (60 cm) tall.

6. After around three weeks, harvest them by holding the stalk and twisting the ear of corn until it separates from the plant.

(Triticum aestivum)

Head of wheat
Wheat. Photo: Marek Studzinski, Unsplash

1. Determine whether you want to use winter wheat, which is more nutritious, or spring wheat, which yields greater quantities in a shorter time.

2. Prepare the top 6 inches (15 cm) of soil using a rake or a shovel.

3. Space out your seeds at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Sow spring wheat about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) deep, while winter wheat should be covered by 2 ½ inches (6.5 cm) of soil.

4. Water the crop and apply fertilizer regularly.

5. Once the grains turn brown, use a scythe to cut the stalks, then dry them for at least two weeks.

Relax and unwind by cultivating homegrown grains! You will not only enjoy gardening, you’ll also be able to eat organic, nutrient-rich food after every harvest.

Piece specially produced for laidbackgardener.blog

Produced by: JBroad

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

4 comments on “How to Grow Grains in Your Backyard

  1. Back when ornamental grasses were a fad, I grew corn in three ‘clusters’ in the front garden. I wanted to do the same with a bit of wheat, and would like to eventually try sorghum. Anyway, it did not go over so well with the neighbors who do not believe that is appropriate for any of us to perform gardening. Anyway, even though the corn was crowded in tight clusters, it actually produce a bit of corn. It was a type of corn that is used for tortillas, so did not get eaten fresh. I was pleased to get seed to do it again.

    • I’ve used sorghum as an ornamental. Quite impressive!

      • While looking at seed in catalogs, ornamental qualities are often mentioned. I really want it for the syrup. Grain would be a bonus if I let some of it got to seed. If it is pretty, well, that is even better. (Although, in my own garden, I do not care how pretty something is.)

  2. Good article, Buckwheat is good for honeybees & a grain. Amaranth & Quinoa can be grown on a small footprint & harvest much like millet.

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