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Growing Out Rare Barley Lines

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Wow, it’s that time of the year again. here at Koanga our garden crew are planning their  seed gardens and getting ready to begin planting seeds. We follow our own Garden Planner to ensure we get crop rotation happening, enough carbon from every garden to make enough compost to maintain and grow the soil in that garden, as well as all cross-pollination issues sorted, isolation distances, and  minimum numbers as well as fitting one crop to that following to ensure  the most efficient use of our garden beds. The planning is huge job!

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To make it easier for you planning your home garden you can now search by crop rotation

This year we have 4 garden crew and  4 separate gardens operating and growing seed for you. Having 4 gardens including two isolation gardens will mean we can grow a few cultivars we previously were not able to.

Things such as Scarlett Flowered broad beans, an extra brassica, and a  few more of our amazing NZ heritage peas, an extra bean from the Phaseolus coccineus family (Runner beans)  and more.

As well as that  this month we are beginning a ‘grow out’ of all of the precious barley lines we hold. These are all ancient barley lines that come from all over the world, including India, Germany, Korea, Japan and Pakistan. Most of them came into this land over 20 years ago from K.U.S.A., a seed  saving organisation in the USA totally focused on saving our international heritage grains. They are incredibly rare and precious, and if we hadn’t been able to grow them out this year we may have lost the seed. The Essene flax seed we have in our catalogue is one of these ancient edible seeds, which actuality co-evolved in the fields with other grains such as barley and wheat. Essene flaxseed has become one of our food staples (you  plant it in August and September for best results)

Many of these cultivars were developed in India by a very special man 35 years ago for their ability to grow high quality food in difficult situations for the poor farmers, without external inputs. These are short season sumer cultivars.

Here is a taste of what we hold here: We are very very excited about these grains and find that they grow well in a home garden Biointensive situation and are productive and easy to use in the kitchen as well as being absolutely delicious. I had no idea ho delicious whole barley was until recently.

Following is a description (written by KUSA) of one of these cultivars we are holding and growing out, out of our collection that totals 19!!!

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Sumire Mochi

Sumire Mochi, is a Spring growth habit, naked food-barley from Japan with purplish coloured grain and dynamic, vigorous tillering (production of grain bearing side shoots). Glutinous trait food barleys are very very rare, and this is one of them. It’s kernels contain the highly nutritious, efficiently assimilated, amylopectin starch. A very rare grain with outstanding agronomic performance and potential plus invaluable human nutritional properties.

We currently have 2 of these super special naked barley cultivars available to you, and hope to have lots more next season.

Growing plants for seed is not as flexible as growing them too eat, many crops must overwinter to get quality seed, that can actually be planted in Spring if you only want to eat them. We have been astounded this winter with many many -10 oC frosts and snow as well, to see how the Japanese Spinach handles these cold conditions. I love Japanese Spinach, it is my new cold season favourite. http://www.koanga.org.nz/growing-out-rare-barley-lines/The bunches are large, it grows in the cold, and tastes great. We’re eating the weaker plants in our Japanese Spinach bed now and will leave the best to grow to seed for you.

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