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Has anyone tried growing their own barley?

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barnaclebob

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I've got about 40-50 square feet of my garden that doesn't need to be used until mid April or early May. I planted some winter barley about 2 weeks ago and its now about 5" tall. Hopefully I'll get enough for a 1 gallon batch. I'm located in the Pacific Northwest so it doesn't get super cold in winter.

Anyone else try this?
 

philipCT

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That's amazing. So fast. What has your weather been like there since you planted? Do you have any idea how long it will be till it's ready for harvest?
 
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barnaclebob

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Weather has been in the 60's during the day, low 50's at night and mix of rain sun and clouds. I hope its ready by april or may but that might be a pipe dream. The only thing I can find is 60 days after it starts growing again in spring...
 

LeftyRighty

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I got a 1 oz packet of spring barley seed (about 680 seeds), planted this spring, was 40+ sq. ft.. Total crop output was about 16 oz. Am going to plant these next spring, should have enough to actually brew then.

I don't know if this is representative of crop production or not, but the garden spot selected was not the best area of the yard, so, this may explain it.

The garden area for next year will be about 1,000 sq. ft. - I had tobacco in it this year. I will be planting that spring strain in about 1/4-1/3 the area, and got more seed of another spring strain (Robust) for the remainder area.

Also got a few (very few) seeds of Maris Otter winter strain - is in the ground now in a different area. Should be enough for a decent 2015/16 seed crop, then a full crop in the 2016/17 winter season.

For all the time and effort into growing barley, hardly seems worth it, except that with homegrown hops, I can say it's 100% homegrown beer, and 'I did it my way". Definitely not a money saving adventure. The tobacco is a different story, 1,000 sq ft of tobacco results in 25-35 lbs of tobacco, or a 3-4 year supply of cigarettes, at a cost of about 35 cents a pack (including the cost of buying the rolling papers).

Good luck with your barley grow, has been fun and interesting for me.
 

AndytheBeave

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I've got about 40-50 square feet of my garden that doesn't need to be used until mid April or early May. I planted some winter barley about 2 weeks ago and its now about 5" tall. Hopefully I'll get enough for a 1 gallon batch. I'm located in the Pacific Northwest so it doesn't get super cold in winter.

Anyone else try this?
Where did you get the seeds from? I too live in the Pacific North West (north of the border to you though). I would love to try and get a winter crop going if it is not too late.
 

LeftyRighty

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barnaclebob

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I got my seeds from http://www.backyardbeansandgrains.com/

Hayes Awnless Malting Barley

I have no idea if she's ever grown it over winter and she said she usually only ships every few weeks so you may want to contact her first. Not sure what kind of regulations there are for shipping seeds across the border, probably makes it not worthwhile.
 
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barnaclebob

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Well hopefully the growing doesn't take much effort besides raking out some weeds every now and then. Malting and drying on a small scale doesn't seem that hard either. I'm just looking for away to maximize the use of my garden which sits bare in the winter except for garlic. If I have to rip it out a month early to plant corn I will.
 

riderkb

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Never done barley, but I did grow winter wheat and spring oats. All grains are about the same to grow, at least rye, wheat, barley, and oats. The seed bed needs to be smooth and weed free, far more so than a normal garden. Get it ready well in advance and cultivate after every rain to kill the weeds. Harvesting by hand with a sickle or scythe is easy for a small plot. Just make sure the seed heads aren't too dry or you loose a lot of grain.

Threshing and winnowing were the hard part for me. It took hours of unpleasant work to get out 10 lbs of grain. It wouldn't be too hard to build a build a little electric powered machine that would do a pretty good job if you are handy with belts and pulleys.

Good luck with your project and keep us updated.
 

AndytheBeave

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I got my seeds from http://www.backyardbeansandgrains.com/

Hayes Awnless Malting Barley

I have no idea if she's ever grown it over winter and she said she usually only ships every few weeks so you may want to contact her first. Not sure what kind of regulations there are for shipping seeds across the border, probably makes it not worthwhile.
got the 'Lacey' seed from http://sustainableseedco.com/malting-barley/

got the 'Robust' seed from http://www.fedcoseeds.com/ogs/search.php?item=8101&listname=Barley

The Maris Otter seed - that's a different story - PM me for that !
Thanks for the info!
 
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barnaclebob

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I figure this thread is worthless without pictures so here's what I have as of yesterday. Planted 9/20. I might have spaced the rows a bit far but have some other areas planted with closer spacing, we'll see which does better. I'll probably mulch in a week or two for weed suppression. The chickens says she can have this bed cleared for me in a few minutes.

IMG_20141001_162225_808.jpg
 

riderkb

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That is the worlds most pampered barley.

You said that you had other plans for that ground in May, right? That's probably going to be too early to harvest the barley.
 
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barnaclebob

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Yeah I figure I have a 50/50 shot at best but we would just have cover crop here anyway. May as well have a chance of getting something useful from it. Corn is going to go in the main area where the barley is. If a barely harvest is looking close I'll look into ways of delaying planting corn or starting it inside.

I may be able to cloche some areas of it too which would provide a kick start.
 

FiddlersGreen87

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The tobacco is a different story, 1,000 sq ft of tobacco results in 25-35 lbs of tobacco, or a 3-4 year supply of cigarettes, at a cost of about 35 cents a pack (including the cost of buying the rolling papers).
Poppy is way more cost effective. :cross:
 

LeftyRighty

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great looking crop !
post another photo in the spring when the heads set on.
 

sfish

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I have barley growing over a foot high no pictures. It is located at a brew friends farm, I have not seen it. I bought 5 pounds of seed from Johnny's seed.

Product ID: Product Quantity Price Ext. Price

989.36 Barley (Conlon)-5 Pounds
Farm Seed > Grains > Barley 1 $7.35 $7.35
 

JR_Brewer

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Very cool! Any plans to malt your barley? Roast it? Leave it in it's raw form?

Interested to see the results in the spring!
 

sfish

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Very cool! Any plans to malt your barley? Roast it? Leave it in it's raw form?

Interested to see the results in the spring!
Yes that is the plan malt & roast, grow hops as well. First year hops did not go well. So the idea is to grow your own ground to glass. maybe someday have a farm license to sell a little. But it is not my farm and brew friend has too many irons in the fire already.

Finsihed reading this book. Ian does not make it sound easy for a novice.

"The Perfect Keg: Sowing, Scything, Malting & Brewing My Way to the Best-Ever Pint of Beer" by Ian Coutts
 
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barnaclebob

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Another update, this one not good.

We had a couple bad storms roll through which blew down a lot of the barley and then temps into the low 20's at night for about a week. This killed most of the barley in the pictures.

Other patches of it around the garden are doing fair but they will probably have to come out early to make room for the real crops.

We've got a little bit of seed left that we'll use in the spring to try to save seed to use next winter or the following spring.

It was a fun try but I'll have to get it in right after the corn comes out next year so that it can get big enough to survive a freeze. Or am I wrong and barely just isn't cold tolerant?
 

riderkb

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I think that winter grain crops are supposed to be very small going into the cold weather. They come out of dormancy and take off before the spring plowing season starts, which is how they get a big head start on spring grain.
 

sfish

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Maybe I planted them too soon then.
I think you just let it ride and it will come back in the spring. Barley is a grass and they say for a good lawn plant in the fall. The roots are established.

My barley looks like a path of high green grass. I am told it will be ready about May.
 

wilserbrewer

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I really admire your determination and hope to see you quaffing your well earned brew some day.

I've often thought the difference b/w people that succeed with tasks and those that don't, is simply that failure is just a result of giving up....
 
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barnaclebob

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No pics but after a few warm days and sun the surviving barley (the stuff on the edge near the bottom of the picture above) seems to be springing back to life and is about a foot tall now. I plan to let some of it grow to maturity to use for more seed. We also will plant a few square feet from our other remaining seed just to build up seed stock.

Heavy frost is what killed the other stuff in November or December so I think I'll cloche it during heavy frost next winter and I might have some homegrown beer.
 

sfish

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I do not think frost will kill the plant unless it was very young. Maybe give it some time, it is a grass.

Mine is under half a foot of snow & ice and I expect it to come back and to harvest in June.
 
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barnaclebob

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Here is a pic of the barley. I count 3 joints on most of them. Its a pretty sad little patch but we just planted a few more square feet that should yield enough to reseed what we need to come fall. The rest of the barley that got heavy frost is without a doubt dead and is almost done decomposing.

I'm hopeful that this patch could be ready by the end of May which I would count as a successful failure for this year.

20150312_183113.jpg
 
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barnaclebob

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Nice, Its been cool and cloudy for the past week or so, not much action from the barley. The newly planted stuff has sprouted though.
 

LeftyRighty

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out of about 140 plants of MO winter barley, only a dozen survived the winter. very disappointing! I'll save the seed I get from this and try again this fall.
planted a large plot (700 sq ft) of spring barley about mid-March. it's up, several inches high now and looking good.
 
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barnaclebob

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Harvest day was today. My meager patch provided 4 5/8 ounces which is more than we purchased...

I estimate that only 10% or less actually grew so this area should be able produce 2.5-3.5lbs which is enough for a gallon batch.

I still need to decide whether I'm going to try this again or just malt and roast this as a specialty grain.

Threshing was done by hand since this was such a small amount and winnowing was done with the help of a box fan.

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barnaclebob

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Ok after some prodding from my wife I am in the process of digging up 60sq ft of grass in the back yard that will become this winter's barley patch. I'm going to use the barley in the pics above to plant. I got about 5oz from the surviving ~6 sq ft this year so maybe i'll get up to 3lbs this year if I can keep it from freezing and blown over from wind storms. I'll also be planting two weeks earlier. Pics and a new thread to follow...

Since I have a dedicated patch, if this winters crop fails I can replant in spring too..
 

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I got my seeds from http://www.backyardbeansandgrains.com/

Hayes Awnless Malting Barley

I have no idea if she's ever grown it over winter and she said she usually only ships every few weeks so you may want to contact her first. Not sure what kind of regulations there are for shipping seeds across the border, probably makes it not worthwhile.
Sorry to burst your bubble here, but Hayes is a forage variety, it is not really made for the seeds, it is used as greenfeed when the plants are still growing. I would not recommend going a lot further with this variety, but that is up to you.

http://hearneseed.com/hayes-beardless-barley/
 
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