Spring got me going and I tossed out Barley seeds. Well, I did read the Market Economy instructions, but I don’t own a plow, the sunny spot is too steep to plow if I had one, and I had a volunteer once that did just fine and multiplied well without such efforts.
Mostly I think the Market Economy makes up stuff so we leave food growing to the Market Economy.
In my naive thinking, I went out with a bag of unidentified mixed non GMO barley and flung it around on my weedy 1000 square feet or so of hot, dry hill.
Wind fuzzed the blooms and I will take more photos tomorrow, but the blooms are bright yellow and visible from a distance. It rained early this spring and the Barley came up with the first weeds (I already picked the wild mustard for salad from this spot), but I had weeks with no rain and even some of the native things died back. The pretty bluegreen Barley grass held on. According to dryland farming tests in New Mexico, Barley outperforms wheat in dry years and wheat outperforms in wet years. Wheat performed better when mixed with triticale.
This week it seems our overdue summer rains are here and the Barley is blooming and setting seed. I may never know what type I have, it was mixed organic non GMO. The Gujar Khan Barley never came up. All varieties may not have sprouted or lived. In any event, I am excited that I will have a crop from the harshest spot on my property. I am unjust perhaps, because the area also has wild parsnips that I can pull after first frost, but… Barley! Not to mention Wild Lettuce (pain relief) for my Pharmacopeia.
I always have beans and they are a simple land race variety, potatoes are easy, and now Barley is making a crop. Corn too. Bulk calories for an entire year! Another dryland crop in the desert! Of course I can grow more with irrigation, but my commitment for this property is dryland landrace varieties for sustainable agriculture.
I admit this “field” of Barley will never grace the cover of Today’s Farmer, but I will have enough Barley for this year and enough seed for next year. I know farmers grow Barley about an inch apart and mine are not that tight, but I can seed tighter next year or stick with success. I notice that the Barley held its own against the weedy stuff.
I am laughing at myself for getting excited over this rough looking field of Barley, but maybe next year I can grow enough for two pigs and me. I have plenty for me and three hens.
I know I am not a Market Economy farmer, but I spent $12 on a curved knife to make it easier to cut Barley and wheat and such. It is easy to grow your own and I would not want to try making a living selling Barley. But if I can grow enough bulk calories with no water, no labor beyond tossing out seed and harvesting, it is a fine bulk calorie to grow. It is a grass. Where doesn’t grass grow?
I feel so encouraged by my Barley crop that I will plant it again next spring and try Emmer Wheat (seeds came too late for planting this year) too.