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January 30, 2012

Growing Small Grains in Florida

A little while ago I performed a germination test of barley and flax seed. The test was successful, so I decided to seed some barley and flax in the garden. Right now it is a perfect time to try these grains in the garden: the weather is not hot yet, and we have about three to four months of relatively nice weather, and that's all these grains need, ninety to hundred and twenty days to harvest. That brings me to late May, at the latest, to harvest these small grains.

I seeded about sixteen square feet each, flax and barley straight onto the soil:

I just broadcast the seeds like you would throw fertilizer, and then sprinkled with soil. I read that you need to seed about forty seeds per square foot each, flax and barley. I kept the ground moist at all times, watering twice a day. I also stretched a bit of deer netting over the seeded area to keep the birds out. The seeds came up about two days later than they did in a germination test, all in all, very nicely.

Here's flax:

And barley:

It is difficult to find any information on growing small grains in Florida, possibly because it is not done commercially. But on a backyard gardener scale, I think it is a feasible project. I did it to try to grow my own low-gluten grains, as well as possible chicken feed, and of course, flax is a wondrous Omega-3 rich product. Even in the event if this project fails, it would still provide plenty of compost material for the garden, so it is a win-win situation no matter how you slice it.


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