Homegrown barley?

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bierandbikes

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Anybody growing barley, rye or wheat on a small scale? I am thinking about 1-2 acres. Is it worth the trouble? Also, any recommendations on a good book or source for info regarding what varieties will grow in my well-drained, slightly acidic, clay ridden, dry soil? Oh, and it gets really hot here (except this year).

I started my hop garden this year. Next year its grain.
 

cheezydemon3

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Would be awesome!!!!

I do know that kilning as a home....kilner is a bit prohibitive. Kinda like curing your own tobacco is nearly impossible on a small scale.

Then again, 2 acres isn't small scale!!

I would research kilning before you plant.
 

cram

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check out drummstik's thread--I believe it was called "100% homegrown"..he wrote a lot of great stuff last year in the hop growing forum about his experiences growing barley.
 

ShootsNRoots

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Growing barley in VA? Hrm... Hot and humid. You'll want a 2-Row Spring variety (Not sure you guys get enough snow to plant a winter barley.)

http://ambainc.org/media/AMBA_PDFs/Pubs/KYMBV_2012.pdf

Most of the time the local university ag extension can give you answers real quick for things like what variety of barley you should plant in your region and where you can buy the seed.

Get a good grain drill and a tractor. Use good tillage practices. Try going natural (i.e. don't have it sprayed by the local coop...)

Harvesting 1 - 2 acres? Know anyone with a combine? That's a lot to do by hand (especially the threshing!). (Ask me how I know.)

Kilning... well you'll need to either buy one, build one or use your kitchen oven.

There are many, many threads on this forum regarding the same topic, with much good advice. Many people have done this successfully (it's hard not to). Very few continue to do so after that first experience.

Spend some more time researching and you'll be ok.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/100-homegrown-287146/
 

ACbrewer

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Anybody growing barley, rye or wheat on a small scale? I am thinking about 1-2 acres. Is it worth the trouble? Also, any recommendations on a good book or source for info regarding what varieties will grow in my well-drained, slightly acidic, clay ridden, dry soil? Oh, and it gets really hot here (except this year).

I started my hop garden this year. Next year its grain.
I'd love to know where this is to come and take a look.
 

Brizzo

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I planted a 6 row malting barley but on a much smaller scale like 60 x45. I am going to try and malt some and brew with it with my home grown hops.
 

mlsuggs

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check out drummstik's thread--I believe it was called "100% homegrown"..he wrote a lot of great stuff last year in the hop growing forum about his experiences growing barley.
Yup, the "100% homegrown" thread is one of the best for grain-growing.

I'm a little north & west of you (Frederick, MD; tho I'm originally from Fredericksburg). I've got Maris Otter & Halcyon (2-row, winter), as well as Bere (6-row spring) and Hana (2-row spring) going. My soil is, if anything, a shade less hospitable than yours, but the weather is very similar.

My experiences, thus far (first year with grains):
  • The winter barleys are doing better than the spring barleys
  • The Halcyon is doing a touch better than the Maris Otter
  • The Bere is doing better than the Hana
  • For "longer-term" production, I'll be sticking with winter varieties
  • I added a little nitrogen-rich fertilizer early in the growth cycle, otherwise have left them alone

My "field" of barley this year is only ~10 sqft; I'm "growing up" the samples to larger seed-counts, and hope to have ~1/4 to 1/2 acre when all is said and done. Still thinking what to do about harvest/threshing/malting/kilning; will probably go "old school" for at least some of it (scythe for harvest, thresh by hand, etc.) because I'm a glutton for punishment. :)

As for books, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot out there. My recommendations are: Homebrewer's Garden and Logsdon's Small-Scale Grain Raising.

Hope this helps!
Cheers!
 

ACbrewer

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mlsuggs - I don't know if you drink coffee, but used grounds are a great source for nitrogen in compost. Perhaps at the end of season would be a time to aply it- enough time for it to break down before the winter planting.
 

mlsuggs

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mlsuggs - I don't know if you drink coffee, but used grounds are a great source for nitrogen in compost. Perhaps at the end of season would be a time to aply it- enough time for it to break down before the winter planting.
Ha! I'm retired Navy. I've occasionally been known to get some blood in my coffeestream. :)

Our coffee grounds are going into the compost pile right now; come this fall, I'm planning on raiding the compost bin for top-dressing for the hops, and there's certainly no reason I can't spread some for the grains. Thanks for the idea!

Cheers!

--Misha
 

ACbrewer

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Ha! I'm retired Navy. I've occasionally been known to get some blood in my coffeestream. :)

Our coffee grounds are going into the compost pile right now; come this fall, I'm planning on raiding the compost bin for top-dressing for the hops, and there's certainly no reason I can't spread some for the grains. Thanks for the idea!

Cheers!

--Misha
You know anyone who does rabbits? I read somwhere on growing hops that rabbit crap is higher is some nutrinet (maybe zinc?) that hops generally need - need more than the soil provides. and I don't know if any of what you are growing needs potasium, but banana peals are a good source for that. Which makes sense because bananas are good for that.
 
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bierandbikes

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ACBrewer, I am out near Ely's Ford. I raise rabbits (they go well with beer) and use the manure for all of my gardening. Rabbit manure does not have to be composted/rotted like chicken (got those too), cow, etc. Just throw it in. I have six hop rhizomes that I just planted this year. We are starting from nothing so it is an impressive operation (I think) but still very young. I am trying to limit as many outside inputs as possible. I have a long way to go, but we are getting there. I am happy to show it off.

Glad to hear this can be done in Frederick. That gives me hope. I was reading the Homebrewer's garden, and they said that barley would not tolerate acidic soil. I am sitting on a quartz aquifer so everything is a bit acidic. I think lots of lime is my only option. I don't know if the chicken manure will affect the pH, but it sure makes the grass grow well.

I plan to do as much as possible by hand. I think smaller scale to start would be a wise choice, maybe 1/2 acre. I hope to perfect my scything technique this year. Winter varieties would be great and allow me to rotate with other crops that do better in the heat and humidity during the summer. I think I am less worried about the harvesting and more concerned about the threshing. I know some varieties are easier to hand thresh than others. I have not tried malting and kilning, but maybe I need to just buy a sack of unmalted barley and get that down first.

I'll read through the 100% homegrown thread. Thanks for all the replies.
 

mlsuggs

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ACBrewer, I am out near Ely's Ford. I raise rabbits (they go well with beer) and use the manure for all of my gardening. Rabbit manure does not have to be composted/rotted like chicken (got those too), cow, etc. Just throw it in. I have six hop rhizomes that I just planted this year. We are starting from nothing so it is an impressive operation (I think) but still very young. I am trying to limit as many outside inputs as possible. I have a long way to go, but we are getting there. I am happy to show it off.

Glad to hear this can be done in Frederick. That gives me hope. I was reading the Homebrewer's garden, and they said that barley would not tolerate acidic soil. I am sitting on a quartz aquifer so everything is a bit acidic. I think lots of lime is my only option. I don't know if the chicken manure will affect the pH, but it sure makes the grass grow well.

I plan to do as much as possible by hand. I think smaller scale to start would be a wise choice, maybe 1/2 acre. I hope to perfect my scything technique this year. Winter varieties would be great and allow me to rotate with other crops that do better in the heat and humidity during the summer. <snip>

I'll read through the 100% homegrown thread. Thanks for all the replies.
Yup, I'm on the same road--trying to cut out as many "inputs" as I can get away with. :) I've got 10 rhizomes of 4 hops varieties (4 Cascade, 2 ea. of Willamette, Sterling, and Magnum), plus building up the grains...

Do you have a scythe? If so, where did you get it? I'm looking to get one this summer...

See the 100% Homegrown thread for variety information; I believe Johnny's Select Seeds has Conlon (spring 2-row malting barley), in 1# and up quantities.

My winter barley is looking to be ready (at a guess) no earlier than the first week of June, more likely closer to the end of June. So, any same-year crop rotation might be pretty tight, unless your secondary (non-barley) crop grows quickly. I've seen recommendations (Logsdon's book, IIRC) to fallow or "green manure" the field for a year between crops...

If your grass does really well, you're probably OK for barley--it is, after all, a grass. My winter stuff was nibbled down to nubs when it was only about 2" tall; I decided to not worry much about it, and see what happens--after all, I mow the yard pretty regularly, hasn't hurt it yet, that I can see... Barley came back, just as happy as ever. :)

I'll probably be playing with malting come this fall--I have to get my barn-turned-brewpub cleaned up a bit more, first...

Hope this helps. Cheers!

--Misha
 
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