Author Topic: Naked Barley!  (Read 558 times)

Ferdzy

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Naked Barley!
« on: 2020-04-06, 07:48:17 PM »
We are about to plant barley for the first time ever. I cleaned out the bed today and we are soaking half of 1 type to see if that helps germination. We are planting quite a lot of different barleys, although they are all hulless and I hope, mostly 6-row types. The type we are soaking is Lawina, which is a 2-row type. It has the largest grains of any of the ones we got, and it's a lovely pale yellow. We got it from Adaptive Seeds. We also got Dango Mugi and Valsergerste from Great Lakes Staple Seeds. These are both described as golden barleys but they are quite brown in comparison to the Lawina. However, in addition to being only 2 row, I gather that Lawina is not the most reliable variety around. And finally, we got some "Special Mix Hulless Barley" from Prairie Garden Seeds. They tend towards the greyish-brownish, although there are some lighter ones.

I guess this means we are about to "breed barley" since they are wind pollinated and will, I assume, cross freely. From the culinary point of view I admit I am accustomed to and therefore tend to gravitate to the pale creamy white or yellow varieties. However, I can adapt if others turn out to be easier to grow, taste better, etc!

Anyone else growing barley? How's it doing for you?

Woody Gardener

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #1 on: 2020-04-06, 08:31:53 PM »
I have poor, heavy soil in zone 6b/7a and look for plants that are productive on my soil just as it is. I have garden space available for winter wheat and have found several varieties that are productive for me. Currently my favorite is Yamhill.

Last year I tried 9 varieties of barley hoping to find one that would fit in the same garden time slot as Yamhill. I got a nice harvest of Yamhill wheat in June. Total harvest of barley planted at the same time = 0. Oh,well!

I know you're planting barley in the spring but I thought I'd just add my barley experience.

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #2 on: 2020-04-07, 06:33:04 AM »
Well that's discouraging, Woody.

I hope to do better; there are lots of farmers growing barley around here. My particular soil is certainly going to be sandier and more acidic than it likes, but my soil is sandier and more acidic than everything likes, unless it's blueberries in which case my soil is not sandy and acidic enough. Oh well, sprinkle a little lime and carry on.

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #3 on: 2020-04-07, 10:00:47 AM »
I am totally unfamiliar with any barley except for the pearl barley that gets put into soups.  I imagine that it is polished some way.

The barley you are going to grow has no hulls.  Does that mean you can just cook it straight from the plant?
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #4 on: 2020-04-07, 11:28:41 AM »
Yes, Diane, that's what it looks like.

Apparently hulless barley has been around for 8000 years - but Europeans have always preferred the kind with hulls because it's better for making beer. The description I read said that the hulls are normally "glued" in place but thanks to a mutation, the glue for hulless barley is very weak, and it shakes out easily. We'll see, I hope!

We just planted it all this morning. The soaked Lawina was already showing signs of sprouting! It was warm and sunny this morning but it is expected to be cool, cloudy, and rainy for most of the next week.

Steph S

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #5 on: 2020-04-22, 08:17:21 PM »
I grew barley for the first time last year.   Direct seeded very early spring, and they were ready to harvest in August.   
Unfortunately they were not harvested by me.  >:(  Seems that a rat came and swiped the lot while I was away working. So no comments on the taste, sadly.  :(
I have some more to try this year - this one is called Faust.
Would love to hear what you think of your barleys at the end of the day. 

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #6 on: 2020-05-07, 03:01:15 PM »
I grow hull-less barley.  The one that I've grown the longest is Burbank Hullless.

Barley grows best for me if spring planted. I like to plant it a few days after the snow melts, into ground that was prepared the previous fall. It is very frost tolerant.

Barley has not been reliably winter hardy for me. I have selected my strain of Burbank for 3 generations of winter hardiness. And I selected the RMSA grex for winter hardiness this winter. The fall planted barley is already starting to flower. The spring planted barley is about 3 inches tall. I could grow fall planted barley without irrigation.

I believe that Barley may cross pollinate as much as 10% in a dry climate. Last spring, I planted 16 varieties so closely together that the flowers can jostle against each other. Hoping for lots of natural hybrids.

The one thing that I don't like about the barley varieties that I have been growing, is that they tend towards short plants, which means that I have to stoop to harvest them. I don't like stooping. My intention as the years go by is to select for taller plants.

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #7 on: 2020-05-07, 03:34:39 PM »
Well I did plant the barley very early; not sure I'd say the snow had just melted, but it was about the same time we planted our earliest peas. It was within a week of that, I'd say.

I'd also say that about 10% to 20% has come up of most varieties. The one exception is Dango Mugi, which I got from Great Lakes Staple Seeds. It came up about 50%. It all seems to have grown to about 2" and stopped, presumably because, frost tolerance or no, it has been most unseasonably cold here. It's been snowed on at least 4 times and we may be having times 5 and 6 over the next couple of days.

We are trying to decide if we should replant (we planted about half of what we had to start with) or not.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #8 on: 2020-05-07, 04:21:02 PM »
I believe that if you replant, then you will end up with different harvest dates for the same variety. Not a problem if you are hand harvesting and they are spaced apart from each other, but if they are jumbled into the same bed/row, it can make harvest difficulty. I expect them to send out lots of tillers to compensate somewhat for the missing plants. I figure that if given plenty of space, that they will expand to about one square foot. One of my collaborators starts grains in plugs in order to space them evenly when planting out.

Planting barley at the same time as peas is a great schedule.

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #9 on: 2020-05-07, 04:30:36 PM »
Thanks, Joseph. Probably we will lean towards not replanting. And the tip about plugs is good... we save all our toilet paper rolls for starting Lima beans, to give them an extra week of growth; we could probably spare some for barley next year.

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #10 on: 2020-07-12, 04:59:15 PM »
Well surviving barley is surviving, and in fact forming barley heads. Are they getting close to ripe? I could use some advice on deciding.

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #11 on: 2020-07-13, 07:09:49 PM »
Great looking patch of barley!!!

I allow grains to fully dry in the field. I might pick before that if seed-predators were eating them, of if weeks of rain was expected. Or if they started shattering. I don't have any of those issues with barley. I irrigate the drying barley patch twice a week for 4 hours each time, then plan harvest just before an irrigation turn.

By allowing them to fully dry in the field, I don't have to dry/store them between harvest and threshing.

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #12 on: 2020-07-14, 06:19:49 AM »
Okay; they are drying at different rates (no surprise given they are a mix, and their position in the sloped bed seems to matter too) but I will let them dry completely.

Ferdzy

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Re: Naked Barley!
« Reply #13 on: 2020-08-30, 07:12:23 AM »
I've been meaning to post this for a few weeks now, which means I forget exactly when all the barley got picked. Quite a while ago. Here is our almost complete harvest, minus about the equivalent of another one of those little 1/2 cup jam jars, which has been set aside for seed.

So, observations:

1.) after seed cost, labour, losses, etc, this is the world's most expensive barley. Regard it with awe!
2.) because wow, cleaning it may be easier than other grains or hulled barley, but I wouldn't describe it as easy.
3.) our local crows and other birds already recognize barley when they see it, and sit around on the bean posts squawking, "Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet?" and then they check to see if it is ready yet.
4.) at which point they break the stems off/eat it.
5.) pretty sure squirrels like it too.
6.) the Dango absolutely produced the most seeds, but it turns out they are about 1/3 the size of other seeds, on average, and so produced only a bit more volume than the other types.
7.) none of them grew very tall, including Valsergerste, which is supposed to be quite tall. I blame our lousy soil.
8.) overall, the barley straw, which I hoped would be a useful by-product, did not amount to much. However, we did have lousy germination so maybe it could be useful in a better year.

I guess we are going to try growing it at least one more time. We do note that many things adapt to our garden in the saved seed versus the purchased seed. But this definitely getting grown for amusement and edification rather than efficient nutrition.