Thursday, June 20, 2013

We Thin the Wheat and Battle Bunnies

Once the wheat emerged it only took a few days for us to see that we had planted far too much, and that the field would have to be thinned.
Thinning the Wheat (with a really big knife)
A farming friend suggested that we should thin the field. If too much grows in a small space it might produce smaller heads with less grain. Commercial farmers would also worry about the grade and protein content of the wheat, but we are mostly wanting to make sure that we grow the healthiest crop that we can.  Even if the heads on our wheat are smaller, we will have more of them (since we over-seeded). So, it might all even out in the long run come harvest time. To thin the wheat we used a thin sharp long knife, and cut the wheat off as low on the root as possible. The yellow basket filled to about half-full. Thinning the field was hard work, and it took quite a bit of time. If we do this again we will have learned our lesson: DO NOT over seed!

Another problem we had came in the form of hungry bunnies. It has been hard to get a picture of the critters, but they were eating some of the wheat.
The Wheat at the far left: Chewed to stubble by bunnies.
To keep the bunnies out of the wheat we put up a fence using some old chain link fencing and some poles left over from some other long-ago project. With the field thinned out and properly fenced there has been little to do with the field. We have not watered it at all. We have not used any fertilizer or any herbicides or pesticides. If we have to, we will, but so far the field has done well without needing any extra help.
Thinned and Bunny-proofed
The fence seemed really high to begin with, but our measurements on June 20th (2 months after we started this blog!) show that the wheat is now 15" (38cm) tall. The wheat is already probably tall enough that the bunnies would not eat it any more, but we will leave the fence up for a while yet, since it also protects the field from a wild Frisbee or soccer ball as well. Once the wheat is as tall as the fence we will probably take it down.
June 20: The Wheat is about 15" (38cm) tall

It still looks like really long grass though!
We have noticed that the long leaves feel a bit softer and a bit rubbery or flexible compared to the grass of our lawn, but right now the field just looks like a bunch of grass planted in rows behind a little fence. We have had to explain to a few neighbors that we are growing wheat to make a loaf of bread. One suggested that we just go to the store and buy a loaf, but most of our friends and neighbors share our curiosity and are watching our little field as it progresses. How long will it take before it starts to look like the wheat we see in all of the pictures? Time will tell. Right now we just have to keep it safe and let it grow.

That is all we know so far.

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