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 Modern wheat varieties have been developed for ease of growing and harvesting on a vast scale with machines, for disease-resistance in huge monocultures, and high gluten content for commercial bread baking. As with fruits and vegetables, flavor and nutrition have become a more minor consideration. If you are going to go to all the work of raising small grains by hand, you might want to consider getting involved with raising, and preserving, ancient and heritage varieties of grain, that were developed during the eras when they were grown on a small scale, and harvested by hand. There may be a wisdom to their development, that is lost at a modern machine scale. For example, very tall winter varieties can out-compete the weeds more easily.
  Also growing, and harvesting small-grains by hand, is an awful lot of work for something that you can easily buy in bulk at a natural foods co-op. A better niche for the scythe user, would be to grow rare heritage varieties, that you can't buy anywhere else. You can help preserve them for the future, and also to adapt them to your bio-region. Start with a variety of different grains in garden-sized plots, and see what does well in your area. Save the seed of what grows, and tastes the best, to sow larger areas the next year.

Pictured here, is a sprout of Black Winter Emmer Wheat emerging through straw mulch, that I planted in the Fall of 2009. I got the seed from the Kusa Seed Society. I'm very excited to see how it grows here in Wisconsin. It made it through our winter just fine. So far so good!
  Some sources in the U.S.A., for heritage grain seed are:  I recently ordered a Red Emmer wheat, Einkorn, Kamut, and Akusti rye from Bountiful Gardens.  They have extremely rare seeds (somewhat strangely described), available in tiny packets. I ordered Ancient Wheat set (Dinkel, Emmer, and Einkorn), from the Kusa Society, plus the Miracle Barley set. . Expensive to join, but what an education you would get. Imagine the quality and flavor and nutrition of the bread made with these grains! I ordered a pound of an ancient Ethiopian variety of organically grown Emmer wheat seed from this site. Lots of interesting wheats available here.

If you live in Canada see:  . They have a great selection, but absolutely will not sell to the USA. Don't even bother asking.

Because heritage seeds are only available in such small quantities, you have to make every seed count. I usually prefer to broadcast grain seed, but for these rare seeds, I take the time to plant them individually. With only 25-50 seeds per packet for some of the grains, it doesn't take too long.  I planted mine with a 6 inch hexagonal spacing in my garden beds. In order to keep track of my spacing, I placed a small stone, where I planted each seed in a row, and then moved them up as I planted the next row, working my way down the entire length of the garden bed. I planted the seed about a 1/2 - 3/4 inch deep. I then hand-broadcast white clover seed over the entire garden bed, and covered the bed with scythe-cut, dead grass "straw", harvested from my field. Next, I sprinkled a little dried turkey manure on top of the straw, to help break it down over time, and build up the soil. To learn more about this technique, read The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka; newly re-printed in paperback.

  Here's dreaming of fields of heritage grain....



Howard Stoner
08/15/2012 2:22pm

Your site is great. Two questions:
Do all ancient grains(in particular emmer and einkorn) have
hulls that must be removed after threshing? If so, how do you do it?
Do you use a scythe for harvesting and do you
use or have a diagram for a cradle on the scythe
for harvesting grain crops?

10/19/2012 1:17pm

I recieved an order from yesterday. The Einkorn wheat has the hulls removed. From what I've read these seeds won't sprout well (if at all) without the hull. Has anyone had success sprouting the hulless seeds?

10/21/2012 8:23am

Please use CAUTION when ordering seeds from these sites recommended in this article. From Kusa I received books - no seeds. From Grow Seeds I received hulled Einkorn - husks removed. Huge waste of money.

04/21/2013 4:28pm

Hulled modern wheat will sprout, why wouldn't the old kinds? Fold a paper towel twice and dampen it (not soaking), slip into a plastic bag, and sprinkle some of the Einkorn on it. Leave it in a warmish place (top of the fridge or freezer?). If they sprout in the bag, they'll sprout in the soil.

I've bought small amounts of all kinds of grains, beans and seeds from the bulk bins in grocery and health food stores, and most of them sprout.

Some bird seeds have been heat-treated so they won't sprout, but most human foods aren't, esp if they're organic.

Try it before you toss it.


07/11/2013 6:47pm

I also want to know how to harvest einkorn wheat and how to hull them too.

Eldon Kimball
11/13/2014 6:46pm

Unfortunately, einkorn is not practical to grow as the hulls are very hard and very difficult to remove without special equipment. I buy mine from Jovial

01/04/2014 9:24am

I would love to know how to harvest einkorn and hull them. Do you have any sources for bulk seed purchase????

07/16/2014 1:34pm

FYI…I planted hulled einkorn I got from jovial (food grade for grinding into flour) and it sprouted very well…about 60%! On the other hand I ordered 6 varieties of heirloom wheat from Growseeds and all of the beautiful wheats got some kind of blight or fungus on them.

Michael cohen
10/25/2014 2:38pm

I grow black emmer I got from growseed. I use a toro electric leaf blower. I set for suction and leaf shredding. It blows into a bag. Set upside down with the blower tube pointing up, I drop the emmer heads in and it shreds them up and knocks the grain right out of the spikelets. Separate the free grain with quarter inch o r eighth inch screens before putting the residual intact spikelets through a second time. The grain shatters if it is sent through the cyclone again.

03/19/2015 3:02am

I found GrowSeeds to be rather abrupt and rude. I never got more than a three word reply to any of my questions. I am not sure if they are advertising seed they do not have available or if they will only sell to certain people. They seem to take offense if you ask them a straightforward question. I cannot be bothered with them and have sourced my seed elsewhere from sellers who can at least communicate in a civil manner.


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