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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603580779
Year Added to Catalog: 2008
Book Format: Paperback
Book Art: B&W drawings
Dimensions: 7 x 10
Number of Pages: 320
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Release Date: April 22, 2009
Web Product ID: 446

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Small-Scale Grain Raising, Second Edition

An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers

by , Gene Logsdon

Chapter 7: Rye and Barley


Rye is not a particularly impressive grain either in terms of yield or nutritional value, except perhaps to lovers of the whiskey distilled from it. But rye's popularity continues because of its amazing tolerance for cold weather, which makes it an ideal winter cover crop and a desirable pasture plant for livestock in fall and spring, when other pastures have quit or just started to grow. Rye can actually begin to germinate when the air temperature is in the 30s on soil warmed by the sun to something higher than the air temperature. This is an interesting phenomenon to study with a thermometer. I have occasionally noted in winter that not only rye but bluegrass and red clover will grow ever so slightly when the air temperature, say in a January thaw, is barely up to 40°F as long as the sun is shining. The sun's rays can warm the soil-surface temperature on such a day up to 45° to 50°, which initiates a little growth. (I knew a farmer in Minnesota in my wild oat days there, who took advantage of this phenomenon and planted radishes on a steep southern slope very early in the spring when snow might still be present in woodland shade. He had radishes at the farmers' markets in Minneapolis just as early as radishes shipped in from farther south.)

Once established, rye will continue to grow in the fall until the temperature drops below 40°F, and resume growth when the temperature rises above 40°F in the spring. It is the hardiest of all grains and won't winterkill at 40 below zero. On the other hand, rye doesn't like hot weather and won't germinate very well when the temperature is above 85°F.

Rye's second advantage is that it will produce a crop on land too poor for wheat. In the cold climate of northern Europe, where soil is poor, rye is an important and dependable source of bread flour.

In the United States, rye is more important as a cover crop, or for green manure and pasture than as grain. The crop can, however, be grazed awhile in the spring and then allowed to grow again for harvested grain. Some dairymen like to grow a little rye strictly for late fall and early spring pasture, then plow under the residue. Organic market gardeners grow it for winter cover and then incorporate it into the soil as a green manure with a heavy rotary tiller. If allowed to mature, rye grows much taller than other small grains, taller than a man. Thus the old lovers' song about if a body meets a body, comin' through the rye. Seems like a lot of hi-liggety was going on even in the olden days when people were supposed to be oh-so-much more proper than today. Just one more piece of evidence that farming is not, and never was, a boring occupation.

Grow rye just as you would winter wheat. It can be sown any time between late summer and late fall, preferably during the earlier half of that period so that it can be pastured in the late fall. Later plantings, for spring plow-down or grain, should not be postponed so long that they can't establish themselves before cold weather arrives in force. In Ohio, a planting for grazing should be completed ideally by September 15, and for grain before the end of October. Adjust those dates to fit your own climate.

For grain, plant about 1 1/2 bushels of seed per acre; for grazing, 2 to 21/2 bushels per acre. Plant either with a drill or by broadcasting as described in chapter 3.

Rye will ripen just ahead of winter wheat. It yields poorly by comparison, perhaps 30 bushels (or less) to the acre, whereas wheat will produce 50 bushels per acre or more. That means there is not much economic incentive to grow rye for grain if you can grow wheat unless you have a special market for it as seed, or can sell it to distilleries or to horse farms. In the latter case, horse owners sometimes prefer rye straw to wheat for bedding if they can get it. Cut when the grain is in the soft dough stage, the straw is brighter and, of course, longer than wheat straw. Rye straw looks showier and is not apt to cling to the horse like shorter wheat straw might.

Rye grain is not as palatable as other grains for livestock, and it's harder for animals to chew. Its chief value for garden farmers is for making tasty homemade rye bread. You can grow all you need for that in a garden patch. Harvest just as I have described for wheat, and grind in a blender or mill. Mix rye flour about half and half with wheat flour for rye bread. Most Americans prefer it that way anyhow. Rye seed is available from some mail-order seed catalogs, like Shumway and Seeds of Change.

A new development in rye works to the benefit of the organic gardener using it as green manure. Tetraploid rye—rye with double the number of chromosomes as ordinary varieties—was perfected first for ryegrass, which is not the same plant as rye grain. (Tetraploid ryegrass is now common, a favorite pasture grass of many grass farmers, but with no grain value.) The tetraploid characteristic gives the plant more vigor and, hence, faster growth and better yields. Michigan State released the first tetraploid rye in 1973, calling it Wheeler' rye. In addition to being an excellent green-manure crop, it is considered a source of high-quality silage, which most ryes are not. Tetraploid ryes should not be grown with other varieties. Cross-pollination may cause sterile seed. That's what happens when you start monkeying around with chromosomes.

Farmers concerned with soil erosion (unfortunately not all farmers are) will sometimes broadcast rye in standing corn in late summer, often by airplane. Enough sun can get through the corn as it matures and dries to allow the rye to grow and cover the bare ground between the rows with a carpet of green. By the time the corn is ready for harvest, the rye not only is helping to control erosion but also is providing a firmer soil surface for machinery when the ground is muddy. The following spring, the rye is plowed under for green manure.

You can follow the same procedure in your garden, as many organic gardeners do. Rye sown between rows of late fall vegetables will keep you from having to wade through mud from late fall and early winter rains. Before it grows tall the following spring, mow it with a rotary mower and till in the clippings.

Insects and diseases

Insects that attack other cereal grains will occasionally show an interest in rye, but rarely to any serious extent. Rye is a good organic crop for that reason. It is, however, susceptible to ergot disease, a fungus that produces black growths called sclerotia that replace the kernels in the rye heads. Ergot is poisonous to humans and livestock. There is a curious theory in history that claims the French Revolution turned so violent because the people had been poisoned and driven half-insane by an epidemic of ergot in the wheat that year. Sounds like a theory espoused by the nobility.

All rye used for seed should be clean and ergot-free. If you use seed that is over a year old, you may automatically control ergot because the sclerotia lose viability after a year's time and hopefully won't carry the disease over to a new crop. Ergot can be removed from grain by soaking infested rye in a 20 percent solution of common salt in water. Stir until the ergot bodies float to the surface and skim them off. You'll have to wash the salt off the seed before planting it. (I label this whole business NWTE, that is, not worth the effort. Throw ergot-infected rye away.)

Rye is afflicted with certain stem rots and smuts, but crop rotation and newer, resistant varieties solve that problem. The smut spores will not survive in soil much beyond a year, so rotations that space rye plantings at longer intervals than one year should avoid infestations.

Anthracnose is a problem, especially in the humid South. The disease is associated with poorer soils and seldom is severe on organic soils where well-balanced fertility is maintained.

Rye Recipes

Sourdough Rye Bread (Wheatless)

1 cup sourdough starter (see instructions below)
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups rye flour
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups rice flour
2 cups rye flour
1/3 cup (approximately) oat flour (oatmeal coarsely ground in electric blender)

To Make and Maintain a Sourdough Starter:

  • Dissolve one package of dry yeast in cup warm water. In a large ceramic or glass bowl combine 1 cup milk, 1 cup all-purpose white flour, 1 cup sugar, and the dissolved yeast. Using a non-metallic spoon, beat the mixture until smooth. Then stir in another cup of milk and flour. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set aside at a warm room temperature for 24 hours. After this time, transfer the starter to a covered glass or plastic container and store in the refrigerator. Stir once a day for the next five days.
  • Whenever you want to use the starter, remove the amount you need for the recipe and allow it to come to room temperature. Replenish the starter by adding equal parts flour and milk, and half a part of sugar.

To Make the Bread:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • To make the sponge, combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and set in a warm, draft-free place overnight. (A cold oven is a good place.)
  • Next morning, dissolve molasses in lukewarm water and sprinkle yeast over the surface. Set aside for 5 minutes to activate. Stir down the sponge, add oil, salt, activated yeast mixture, and all of the rice flour.
  • Mix in as much of the remaining rye flour by hand as possible, then turn out dough onto a board or counter that has been well floured with the rye flour. Knead dough briefly, to incorporate all the flour and finish with the oat flour to reduce stickiness of dough. Place in an oiled bowl, turning the dough to oil its surface.
  • Cover and put in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until double in bulk. Form dough into one large loaf and one small loaf, place in well-buttered bread pans, and leave to rise to the top of the pans (approximately 1 1/2 hours). Bake in oven for 35 minutes or until done. Remove loaves from pans and cool on rack.

Yield: 1 large and 1 small loaf

Herbed Batter Bread (An All-Rye, No-Knead, Casserole Bread)

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water
4 teaspoons dry yeast
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon crushed dried basil
1 tablespoon chives, freshly snipped
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly snipped marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
4 1/2 cups rye flour
2 tablespoons oil

  • Combine nonfat dry milk and warm water in a small bowl, using a wire whisk. Add honey and salt.
  • In a larger mixing bowl, place the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top, stirring until dissolved.
  • Add the milk mixture to the dissolved yeast. Stir in the fresh and dried herbs. Add 2 cups of the rye flour. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed in an electric mixer, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently; or beat vigorously with a wooden spoon, about 200 strokes, until the batter looks satiny. Using a wooden spoon, blend in the additional 2 1/2 cups rye flour.
  • Scrape batter from the sides of the bowl. Cover with a clean towel and set in a warm place (85°F), away from drafts, to rise until light and double in size, about 45 to 50 minutes. (Do not allow batter to over-rise.)
  • Stir the batter down. Turn into a well-oiled 1-quart casserole or soufflé dish. (The batter will be sticky. Smooth out the top of the loaf by patting into shape with a floured hand.) Again, allow to rise in a warm place, covered, for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Place in oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until bread is golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and brush top of bread lightly with oil. Cool for 10 minutes. Turn bread out onto wire rack to cool.

Yield: 1 round loaf

Rye and Lentil Pilaf

1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups cooked whole or cracked rye (approximately 1/2 cup uncooked)
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (approximately 1/3cup uncooked)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken stock or tomato juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion, carrot, and celery in oil until tender. Combine with cooked rye and lentils, add herbs and chicken stock or tomato juice. Season to taste, cover, and steam for 10 minutes, or until hot.

Yield: 4 servings.



If barley isn't the oldest cultivated grain as some historians believe, it certainly is the most widely adapted. Barley can grow inside the Arctic Circle and barley can grow in the tropics. There are varieties suited for Montana and Arizona, New York and Georgia, Tennessee and Minnesota. And all points in between. Barley likes a cool ripening season and moderate moisture best, but will adapt to hotter conditions. Since it uses most of the water it needs during the winter and spring months and can then endure dry weather until harvest, barley is a welcome crop on irrigated land to rotate with cotton, alfalfa, sorghum, and other summer-growing crops in the South. Moreover, barley is more tolerant of salt than other small grains and adapts somewhat to saline western soils.

Barley makes good feed for all livestock. It contains almost as much energy as corn and three percent more protein on the average. It can replace corn pound for pound in cattle rations. In the Northwest beyond the Corn Belt, where the largest barley acreages are found, beef and pork are traditionally produced using barley feed instead of corn. Northwesterners believe that barley imparts a distinctive flavor to the meat, which they prefer to cornfed beef or pork.

However you like your steaks, barley makes good soups and cereals in the hulled (pearl barley) form. Alone, barley does not have enough gluten to make bread and must be mixed with other flours. Sprouted barley, dried and crushed, is the principal malt used in brewing beer, distilling Scotch whiskey, and making malt syrup for other food purposes. Some 30 percent of the barley grown is used for malting.

To achieve so much versatility with barley, good old Homo sapiens has developed varieties from two botanically distinct types of barley: six-row and two-row. The six-row varieties are more common, and they are divided into three distinct families. Group one contains the malting barleys of the upper Midwest: tall, awned (bearded), spring-planted, and tracing back to Manchurian origins, the name by which the group is sometimes identified. Group two is called the coast group, the barley usually grown in California and Arizona as winter or fall barley. It is North African in origin. Group three is the Tennessee winter group, the true winter barleys grown east of the Mississippi, principally for livestock feed.

Two-row barleys are grown in the Pacific Northwest, the Intermountain region, and the northern half of the Great Plains. They are spring-planted both for cattle feed and malting.

Because of the different purposes for which barley is grown, there are many varieties, and new ones are offered continuously. In most cases, breeders are seeking a stiffer-strawed plant. You can find the latest sources on the Internet or talk to the manager of your nearest grain elevator and farm-supply store. Hybridizing barley for higher yields (actually to give seed companies more control over the market, in my ornery opinion) is an on-again, off-again proposition. It is doubtful that hybrids will ever yield significantly higher than non-hybrid varieties, which can produce 80 to 100 bushels per acre.

Barley varieties may be beardless, but usually sport beards like young men are doing today. The beards are slender bristles, usually about 3 inches long, that grow from each seed in a head and are more correctly called awns. Farmers who grow barley for forage generally prefer beardless varieties, since horses may not eat the awns, especially if they are rough or barbed, as is often the case. But, for that very reason, bearded varieties have been found to be resistant to deer foraging. The deer don't like the beards either.

I have my own small adventure to tell about bearded grain (some wheat varieties are bearded, too) and to pass on as a word to the wise. In my wandering Minnesota days, I worked several summers on farms where grain was still threshed the old-time way, with a threshing machine. Despite the scratchy straw and rough, bearded grain heads, I worked the first day shocking the bundles without a shirt on. Big he-man stuff. Each shock, when finished, had to be capped to keep out rain. The cap was just another bundle fitted over the shock to make an inverted V roof. To bend the bundle, or break it as we said, the shocker had to clasp the butt end against his stomach with the left arm and bend the straws over that arm with the right hand, almost as if he were folding a blanket. The bundle could then be set over the shock.

To make a long story short, that night I woke up with a nagging pain in my stomach. By the third awakening, I decided that I had been stung severely on the navel, though I could find no break in the skin. The fourth time I awoke from a nightmare in which I had been stabbed in the stomach. Close examination revealed that a barbed awn was literally working its way inside me via the navel. The barbs of the awn faced outwards: the awn could slide forward into me with the movement of my torso, but the barbs prevented it from sliding backwards. To this day I wonder how far that awn would have penetrated. Moral: When shocking grain, keep your shirt on.

Grow barley almost exactly the same way you'd grow wheat. Some is spring-planted and some fall-planted. Fall-planted winter barley may winter-kill where winter temperatures average less than 20°F. As a general rule, plant winter barley where winter wheat is planted; spring barley where spring wheat is grown. Fertility requirements are similar. Barley ripens sooner than wheat: spring barley in sixty to seventy days, winter barley about sixty days after growth begins in the spring. Because barley ripens quicker than wheat, it fits into a double-cropping system better. A second crop planted after barley has longer to mature than when planted after wheat. The garden farmer seeking to make a small acreage as productive as possible could plant soybeans after barley even in the North, or sorghum after barley in the South, with a good chance of success.

The first experience I had seeding barley brought me into conflict with those blasted beards again. I was just a boy at the time, and my father was planting barley from which the awns had not been removed. The awns caused a problem in the old drill we were using. They'd bridge over and plug the tubes that fed the grain from the planter boxes down into the ground. It fell to my unlucky lot to keep all eighteen tubes open so that the drill planted the seed evenly with no missed spots. That was no easy job, and that's why I remember it so clearly. I doubt you'll come across seed as rough as that today, but if you do, don't try to run it through a planting drill.

In the field or in the garden you can put barley in your rotation as a replacement for wheat. Barley rather than corn is a good crop to follow potatoes since scab disease in potatoes can carry over on corn but not on barley, I understand. Where take-all disease (already mentioned in chapter 3) became serious in wheat fields in California, farmers began planting barley instead, since the disease doesn't attack barley so seriously. In dry climates, a rotation of sorghum, barley, fallow, and wheat has been found profitable. Sometimes the barley is grown right on the summer fallow. In the South, barley is sometimes rotated with cotton (this was especially true in the past). The cotton yield is improved, and the barley lessens winter and early spring wind erosion.

Experiments with commercially grown, irrigated barley in Arizona have applications for garden farmers. Researchers there have found that barley grown in rows 14 inches apart produced as good a crop as solid-planted barley, even though less seed was used. The plants in rows had more room to tiller, and the greater number of tillers not only improved yield, but anchored the plants better and kept them from lodging. What's more, research reported much greater efficiency in fertilizer use, and weeds could be controlled by cultivation in the early stages of the crop.

For garden farmers, planting small grains in rows, however untraditional in America, makes sense. They, too, can use less seed, can use precious compost and organic fertilizers more efficiently, and can cultivate for weed control instead of using herbicides. Also, for hand harvesting, grains in rows will make bunching the cut stalks into bundles easier.

Feeding Barley to Livestock

Barley can be fed whole to rabbits, chickens, hogs, or livestock. Chickens don't seem to like it as well as wheat on account of the hulls, and all animals will consume more if the barley is ground. Better than grinding, I think, is to sprout the barley, at least for feeding to a small number of chickens or other animals. After all, most organic growers are already well aware of the value of sprouts in their own diets. Sprouted oats and other grains were standbys for chicken feed in the good old days. Why not utilize barley that way now, since its sprouting ability is so well documented? The sole hitch is that you must store the barley four to six weeks before trying to sprout it. The process is called after-ripening, and it is necessary for prompt germination. With the new interest in vegetable juices, barley-grass juice from sprouts is now considered, like wheatgrass juice, to be extremely healthful.

An easy way to sprout small amounts of barley for a few farm animals is to soak the grain heads when they are still attached to the stalks in tied bundles. Do one bundle at a time. It should sprout in about five days at a temperature of 60°F. Eventually, you'll know how much barley to keep in the soaking process so as to keep a steady ration coming every day. The barley will sprout right in the head, and you can toss the whole bundle or part of it to the chickens. They get excellent feed, the stalks make excellent bedding, and you don't have to thresh the barley.

Malting Barley for Beer

I have never made beer myself, but from remembering my father doing it years ago, and then listening to the tales my father-in-law told (he was a successful moonshiner) here's roughly how to do it. (More detailed instructions can be found in many books, including my own Good Spirits, published in 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing.)

First you sprout your barley. (You can avoid the whole sprouting routine by buying malt extract). Doing your own sprouting is not difficult if you've had any experience with other grain sprouting. You need to keep the grains moist but not let them mold, at a temperature of around 65°F. Any way you accomplish that will suffice. Distillers of Scotch whiskey used to wet down a layer of grain about 6 inches deep, and keep turning it over manually with a shovel. You allow the barley to sprout only until the plant sprout—not the root sprout—is two-thirds of the length of the grain itself. The sprout will not have emerged yet, but is plainly visible in the swelling grain. As soon as it reaches the prescribed length, which should be in about ten days, dry the grains at a temperature of 130°F, and never more than 140°F. When dry, the grains should be brittle and crack sharply between your teeth.

To make beer, you need at this point some kind of barrel or container (wood or copper in the old days, though I think foodgrade plastic would be okay if it is the kind that can take boiling water) that has an outlet near the bottom. A wooden cider barrel with a spigot near the bottom would be fine.

First you crack your malted barley. A coffee grinder, blender, rolling pin, or roller mill will do the job. Crack the grain, don't grind it to a powder. Next, mix water with the cracked malt to make a thoroughly wet, heavy mash. The water needs to be boiled and then cooled to 150°F before using it to make the wet mash. Let the mash stand overnight.

Next morning, pour boiling water on the mash. The water soaks down through the mash and is drawn off through the bottom spigot or whatever arrangement your ingenuity has devised. Your formula to follow is 10 gallons of boiling water to 1 bushel of mash, to which you will later add 1 pound of hops if you are making beer. So 1/2 bushel takes 5 gallons of water and 1/2 pound of hops, and so forth.

After you have poured the proper amount of boiling water through the mash and drawn off the liquid, the latter is strained to remove any pieces of grain in it and then boiled with the hops, the hops contained inside a cloth bag in the liquid. The mash left over is still very nutritious feed for livestock, something that is more important to me than the beer. Well, maybe.

Boil your beer and hops for about an hour. Then pour the liquid into another container and get it cooled down as fast as you can. If it cools too slowly, it may spoil. A good way to cool it quickly is to run cold water through a coiled copper pipe immersed in the beer. (Cooling in a bulk milk tank would be perfect, but don't let your milk inspector know.)

While the beer cools, take a gallon of it and cool it down quickly to body temperature; then add yeast, and let it work. When the rest of the brew has cooled to about 60°F, dump in the gallon of yeasted liquid, cover the whole with a cloth so insects can't get to it, and let the brew ferment for a week anyway.

But after three days, watch for yeast floating up to the top of the brew. Skim it off before it sinks again. Save the skimmings for the next batch or to lend to other would-be brewers or bakers in need of live yeast. In a lidded, glass jar in a cool place, yeast will keep at least a month.

Beer made this way is pretty potent stuff. You can add corn to it to lighten it, or sugar to darken it. Other grains will make beer too, as I'm sure you know. Wheat beer is excellent, to my taste.

At any rate, I've given you only the bare bones of the process, and you should consult experts or other books, or be ready to employ a lot of trial and error. Failures are many, but faint heart ne'er won fair beer, I suppose. I take a dim view of the whole thing, remembering my father's beer. Bottles of it in our cellar had the peculiar habit of exploding occasionally. It was like living above a time bomb.

Malted barley, of course, is the soul of good Scotch whiskey. The smoky taste comes from drying the sprouted barley with burning peat. The leftover sprouts become the principal livestock feed on Scottish farms, at least in earlier times. Hundreds of little independent distilleries used to flourish in Scotland, making a profit by feeding the whiskey to people and the by-product, spent barley, to their livestock. Nothing wasted. Too bad America didn't follow that example in distilling whiskey. If it had, Appalachia today would be a prosperous place, not the land of poverty.

For barley soup or other foods, barley needs to be hulled. The blender will do a fair job if you then winnow or sift the hulls out. You can't get them all, just some. Since I have begun asking country people how to hull various grains, I've learned some rather novel methods. It seems that any hard striking action will work. As I have mentioned already, a combine with the beaters that strike the grain set overly close to the concaves will knock hulls loose on oats and barley. Some farmers tell me that if you blow the grain through a silage chopper against a silo wall, the considerable force of grain striking concrete will loosen about 60 percent of the hulls, be it barley or oats. Another method of hulling is to use a hammer mill, taking out the screen, and slowing down the RPMs to nearly half the grinding or milling speed. Roasting the grains before hulling greatly increases the efficiency of any method you use, as previously discussed in chapter 5.

Insects and Diseases

Like all the grains that have endured for so many centuries, barley is not a plant to roll over and play dead every time a disease or bug enemy comes along. Yellow dwarf virus may come close to destroying a field of barley occasionally if it attacks the plants at the seedling stage. Older plants under attack will be less stunted, but the top leaf will be yellowed and the grains in the lower parts of the heads blasted. An aphid carries the disease, but even insecticide applications have not helped control it. The aphid transmits the virus before it can be killed. Fortunately, the disease is not common.

Many fungal diseases bother barley as they do other cereal grains, especially in the humid South. In Georgia, spot blotch has been severe in the past, and farmers are advised to plant only the more resistant varieties and to resist heavy nitrogen fertilization.

Greenbugs are aphids that may attack barley if they can't find any wheat or sorghum. They've been around since 1882 at least, and have not overwhelmed us because of a host of predators, including lacewing flies, ladybugs, beetles, wasps, and syrphid flies. On occasion, the greenbugs still get out of hand and wreck some grain, but even from the viewpoint of a nonorganic commercial farmer, using an insecticide can do more harm than good.

Corn leaf aphids will feed on barley and other cereal grains in the South, curling leaf tips and turning them brown. I will quote what Arizona Extension researchers said about control back in the 1970s, so you don't think I'm just giving some nutty organic opinion of my own: Infestations are greatest around the edges of the field. Thus, it is best to check throughout the field before deciding upon chemical control procedures. In most instances, lady beetles and other predators provide sufficient control. After the grain heads out, an infestation seldom warrants control.

Safe Storage

In storing barley, follow the same precautions as I gave for wheat. Though insect infestation problems with barley aren't as critical as with wheat, you still have to take care. The small amount you will want for your own use can be protected by heating or cold storage, as with wheat. For a small quantity, a metal barrel or two will provide enough room and will keep out rodents.

One reason I think the garden farmer should grow a variety of grains is because that makes controlling weevils and other storage insects easier. If you use up your barley from harvesttime in June until late summer, you aren't going to have bugs in it. They don't get a chance to become entrenched, so to speak. Then you can feed up your wheat and oats in the fall, then go to your corn and soybeans until the following summer, since weevils don't bother them much. If you have only a little harvested grain in bins for no longer than six months, and the grains are of more than one variety (so that one kind of weevil may not like one grain as well as another), and if you clean the bins or barrels out well when empty, you just aren't going to have a lot of insect damage.

In fact, on a well-planned, small-scale schedule, you could get by without having to store grain at all. Feed rye and barley right out of the field in early summer, wheat and oats in late summer, buckwheat and sorghum in fall, and corn out of the shock or off the stalk all winter. You'd have some loss from weather, but not much. Garden farmers have only begun to innovate commercial agriculture to their own purposes, and more new thinking like this will surely come along. We've all got a lot to learn. As an old English folk song that dates to the Middle Ages put it: Neither you nor I nor anyone knows, How oats, peas, beans, and barley grows.

Barley Recipes

Highland Fling

2 pounds stewing lamb
1/2 cup split peas
1 cup barley
1 teaspoon marjoram
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup diced potatoes
1 onion, chopped
Chopped fresh parsley and ground paprika to taste

  • Cook 2 pounds stewing lamb until it is just tender, seasoning as you like it. Have the split peas and barley soaking in cold water during the last half hour or so of the meat cooking time. Add the split peas, barley, marjoram, and vegetables and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  • The last thing before serving, salt to taste. Add chopped parsley and a sprinkle of paprika.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Hamburger Puff

1 pound ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups cooked barley
1 small onion, grated fine
1 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix all ingredients, put in casserole dish, and bake about 40 minutes or until done.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Barley Pancakes

4 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
12 tablespoons honey
2 eggs
1/3 cup soy milk powder
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 cup water
1 cup barley flour
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup wheat germ

  • Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of cup warm water in a mixing bowl. Stir in honey and allow mixture to work in a warm place for about 25 minutes.
  • Gradually blend in eggs. Combine the soy milk powder and nonfat dry milk with water, using a wire whisk, and add to mixture; then add the barley flour, oil, and wheat germ.
  • Pour cup batter for each pancake onto a lightly greased griddle, over medium heat. When bubbles form on the surface, turn pancake and cook about 2 minutes longer, or until nicely browned on underside.

Yield: about 5 servings


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