This morning I planted Gujar Khan Barley seeds. I only got 50 seeds from Sustainable Seed Company, but think this barley might do well in my dry mountain climate without supplemental watering.
Gujar Kahn Barley is from Punjab, Pakistan, where they plant it in February and harvest by early April. What the heck in going on in the Punjab in February? Turns out October-March is their cool, mild time of year with temperatures down to about 40°F. They get extreme heat in April-June, and a rainy season in July-September. That means April planting for me, and if it gets occasional rain, it will be happy. It should be up and ready to harvest before my summer monsoon. Too much water slows its growth, music to my ears. I need a landrace species.
I tossed the 50 seeds out in a good location that grows grass this time of year, but dies back by summer. I know I “should” baby this grain, but will not. I have severe water restrictions and low rainfall and am looking for what will grow here. I have another spot that grows grass and will try another potential landrace grain there.
Granted, this is an evergreen food forest, but I would be happy with a bucket of barley to add to soups and beans. Barley makes a good breakfast cereal and doesn’t lose texture when reheated. For nutrition and full medicinal benefits, eat the whole grain. If pearled barley is what you can buy in the market economy, buy the one with the most bran and endosperm intact. If you have a spot, grow hulless barley for ease of processing. A small area will grow enough for soups, and a bit more area will allow for use as a regular breakfast cereal.
If you grow livestock, barley is very nutritious as part of their diet. Dave feeds his pigs a mix of barley, peas, and wheat. Soak before feeding. I have planted peas, now barley, next wheat. Never mind my cornfield is not even close. I will need a lot more than I have going to support a pig or two!
As a little rainstorm is moving in, I ran outside with a pound of mixed barley seeds I intended to take uphill for open areas in my food forest. Instead, I just used half to overseed my steep hill overlooking my entry driveway. It is about 20’x100′ and in light of wanting to grow pigs and chickens, maybe I can turn this full sun patch into a barley field of sorts. Too steep to plow, I will try overseeding the way I do with wildflower seeds.
In fact, escaped barley is common in grasslands, woodlands, disturbed habitats, along roadsides, and in orchards. Sounds like my kind of grain.
My Seattle volunteer barley had 3 stalks (stools) with one head each. Gujar Khan barley averages 10, with large grains but smaller heads. My surprise barley? Manna from heaven.
Barley, another food that is no longer eaten much in the US, is very nutritious. It is a minerals superfood, and 1/3 cup dry barley as manganese, molybdenum, selenium, copper, chromium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Along with soluble and insoluble fiber plus vitamins B1 and B3 , give your body’s systems a powerhouse start to the day as a hot breakfast cereal.
Some of the benefits from eating barley are intestinal health, cardiovascular health, lowered risk for diabetes type 2, lowered risk for colon and breast cancer, and lowered risk for gallstones. Barley decreases symptoms of asthma and arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. It helps sustain flexibility in blood vessels, bones, and joints.
My favorite is that selenium induces either DNA repair in damaged cells or apoptosis, the body’s self-destruct sequence to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells. Barley is a good source of selenium and other nutrients my body needs for constant maintenance.
Barley is a wildlife attractor, and the other half pound of seed went uphill and I overseeded several of my sunny spots.
It was already raining as I came back downhill to place rain buckets under my porch overhang. Maybe I will pull another 10 to 15 gallons of free to me water for my plants.
Gujar Khan barley seems a good variety for my mountain food forest. If barley feeds me, livestock, and wildlife, it will be a boon to my circular economy.