Question Growing a Year's Supply of Wheat for One Person in New England

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Techno 2, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. Techno 2

    Techno 2 New Member

    Jan 2, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Temperate (all seasons)
    I want to put Thoreau to the test when he said:

    "Every New Englander might easily raise all his own breadstuffs in this land of rye and Indian corn, and not depend on distant and fluctuating markets for them." - Henry David Thoreau

    And I am in the perfect position to do so - I live in New England - Mass - and I have two acres, about 3/4ths acres of which is open lawn. Not to mention I'm single, so I have only myself to feed.

    So I'm thinking I can buy some wheat seed, turn a 1000 square feet patch (20x50) with a shovel, possibly manure the patch, plant this Spring of 2019, reap late summer, age for 2-3 weeks, mill it all, store it and scoop some out whenever I need it.... I'm just thinking out loud here the outline I imagine.

    My objective is to produce enough flour to sustain myself entirely on bread until harvest again in 2020. I have no problem doing this if it is possible, as I can fare hard and yet succeed.

    My questions are though,
    ---How much seed would I need to buy?
    ---Are there special considerations for my climate of New England?
    ---Is there an easy resource I can read about planting and reaping times? (I was thinking of going to the local university's agriculture dept. for info)
    ---Is 20x50 overkill for one person?
    ---Is it necessary to manure if I rotate plots and let one sit fallow?
    ---Is it advisable if I just spade up the ground to till it? I want to be independent of animal and technological labor if possible
  2. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Pomona, Qld
    Wow Techno, That's one big list you have there.
    Welcome to our forum.
    But good on you for wanting to give it a go.
    But can I just ask you to dwell for a short time on one particular aspect of small holding farming endeavour that most people don't do & why they don't do it?

    Growing flour grains!!!!!!! ;)

    So over in USA you have a valuable resource in the form of your nearest or local Extension Officer.
    We in Australia don't have such a resource anymore, although each state used to have its DPI (Dept of Agriculture Institute) agronomist.

    Just because you aren't on a big farm doesn't mean you can't ask your extension officer questions about farming things.

    He will know what tons per acre the land in your area should yield, what weight of seed to sow per acre (the density), sowing & harvesting schedule, what fertilizers a particular variety of seed requires, which variety of seed to sew in your area for the type of bread flour grain you want to harvest, whether the soil will need amending after cropping.

    Google is your friend and knowledgeable partner!

    I believe New England can have harsh winters but I don't know about rainfall.
    Rainfall is important because flour grains don't like to be too wet at certain growing stages & of course you wouldn't want rain at harvest time.

    Cropping density will determine if your quarter acre is enough land. Also consider that being your first time, your crop might be far less productive than a good farmer's crop on broadacre farms.

    I personally believe all land should be amended for fertility for the next crop or if leaving fallow it should be sewn to a green cover crop which is dug in before it seeds.

    Also it is important to understand that as soon as you remove the current mulch cover (the lawn) your soil become exposed to light, wind & atmospheric conditions so it will begin drying out and changing in texture. As you cultivate it, it will dry out even faster. Look at the history of the Pan Handle.

    Whether or not you can use a spade will depend on the type of soil you have. The answer to that question is to grab your spade, trot outside and push it into the lawn you plan to dig up. If that can be easily done then its a good bet you can manage a quarter acre by yourself.
    A good potato fork will also be a useful tool if your soil is loose.

    But you will have the lawn grass to contend with. Lawn grasses are cultivated to withstand wear & tear & keep on keeping on. These grasses often have very determined root systems too. This means it can become a weed & direct competitor for your cultivated crop.

    Now after harvest you are planning to store your crop for a pretty long period, up to a year. Be sure you have quality air tight & weevil proof containers & that the storage temperatures are right so you don't loose your hard won grain. You'll need a moisture probe to be sure the moisture level is correct before & during storage. You don't want the grain going mouldy.

    I can't think of anything else right now other than to advise you to seek out your Extension Officer & search google.

    Good luck & keep us informed.

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