Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Wheat Planting!

Yesterday, Tuesday December 11th, three members of LABB trekked back to Agoura Hills to plant some more wheat. The process is becoming more and more efficient, as new tools are invented to aid us mere mortals.

But before I get into what we did yesterday, let me show you what we saw. The wheat planted on the 29th sprouted, and is looking exceptional. All three kinds which were planted in the large beds (Sonora, Red Fife,
Glenn) look quite lush.

As you can see, the Sonora (left), which was furrowed before it was planted, is growing in neat rows, where as the other two beds grow uniformly.

Some areas are patchy, as in the foreground of this shot. We suspect this is where the device we used to turn under the seed built up dirt and dragged the seed out of the soil. These areas were often accompanied by areas with a high-density of growth, strengthening the above conclusion.

Yesterday saw the planting of three large plots, roughly 10' by 175', containing Oberkulmer Spelt, Maverick Spelt, and Sonora (the second plot of this variety so far planted). Two more plots were readied for seeding (they are being planted as we speak), planned to contain Red Fife, and Glenn. After this is accomplished, all the land in Agoura designated for wheat planting will be full!

This is the basic layout, not to scale:

From left to right, Sonora, Red Fife, Glenn, Oberkulmer Spelt, Maverick Spelt, Sonora, Red Fife, Glenn. The small rectangle in the lower right is a test plot. More on that in the next post.

Tuesday's planting was not much different from the 29th's. Because of the success of the furrows on the Sonora patch, we decided to furrow all the land. A little innovation turned the device used last time to turn under the seed into a plow. Screws and bolts were attached to holes in the metal frame, the bar closest to us in this picture:

These protruding bolts, spaced about 3" apart, when dragged across the surface of the earth, created narrow channels, perfect for planting. The cinder blocks were placed atop the frame in order to provide the weight necessary to keep the frame flush against the earth, and to keep the bolts buried, creating the desired effect. It was first dragged by two people:

But when Nathan brought out the tractor to re-till some soil, which remained clotted, we took advantage of the motor power.

The seed was distributed as before, using  two 20lb Solo hoppers, except in the case of the Uberkulmer Spelt, whose seeds were too big to fit through the gate in the hopper, and was dispersed by hand. The spelt was purchased from French's Hybrids. Uberkulmer is a California Landrace variety, and Maverick is a modern variety. It will be interesting to see them growing side by side. The seeds had both been treated with an anti-fungal chemical, and appeared red out of the bag. Here is a photo of the Uberkulmer, with its large seeds:

No trace of this chemical will be left on the wheat harvested in the spring.

The furrows, once seeded, were hand raked to bury the seed, both to give it its proper germination environment, and to protect it from birds. When all was done, the land divided beautifully, green and brown:

There's not much more for us to do but to wait until the harvest in early spring, and meanwhile learn all about wheat varieties and their culinary uses.

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