So far given the limited data I’ve gathered from my small plot of Maris Otter and my really small test plot of Chevallier, the Chevallier is seriously outperforming the Maris Otter. Visually there is a huge difference, the Chevallier looks stunning, the heads are huge, bigger than other two row varieties I’ve grown like Conlon and Harrington. As far as weight goes I counted out a random sample of 100 corns of each and the Chevallier weighed 6.2 grams, the Maris Otter weighed 5.3 grams. However, I have not measured the moisture contents yet so these numbers may be a little off but they have been drying indoors for the past 10 days so they’re probably close. I haven’t harvested all the grain yet, I should be able to tomorrow. Unfortunately this year I’ve been hit with racoons, rats and squirrels. I figured they’ve taken about 30-40% of my Maris Otter crop, it’s hard to say. The cayenne pepper seemed to work for the racoons and maybe even the rats but made no difference to the squirrel who seems to like it spicy. I caught him a few times sitting on the chicken wire right out in the open munching away. The good news is I should have enough Chevallier seed to plant a big plot of it next year, I can’t wait to brew with it.
Category Archives: Garden videos
Not too dark,
Not too bright,
As we look for treats.
Out we creep
While people sleep.
Soon we hope to find a heap
Of cheese and bread crumbs,
On codfish bones and beets.
This is from one of my kid’s favorite books when they were little it’s called Racoon Tune. I must have read this to them a thousand times back when I thought raccoons were cute. I’ve since changed my mind. The barley was looking fantastic last week and I thought I may even be harvesting the Bere barley this week but they beat me to it, the masked bastards. Look at the Bere now.
They also destroyed about three beds of the Maris Otter. I’m thinking it’s raccoons and not rats because the stems have just been knocked over whereas rats tend to chew the stalk at the base and then take the seed head. Some of the seed heads have just been chewed off and the only other animal that could do that would be a skunk but they’re quite a bit smaller than the raccoons around here. I also found some of their crap which was rather neatly deposited into one corner of the garden, at least they have manners.
Fortunately, there is quite a bit of barley left in the garden, the Chevallier looks good so I’m not giving up.
I couldn’t leave the garden today without doing something to deter these little buggers. Fencing is out of the question, they would just climb over it. So I figured I’d try to make it a little unappetizing for them. I bought three packs of cayenne pepper and sprinkled it all over the barley and I tried to get some on the ground as well so they’d get it on their paws. I know, it sounds kinda cruel, but I’m hoping they’ll just smell it and move on. Fingers crossed.
I’ve got a new plot! (again). Last year’s new plot turned out to be a bit of a disaster. It was big and had been neglected so it was full of weeds and rhizomes. I had a heck of a time trying to pull out the grass that kept coming up. It was also in a poorly drained part of the field so it wasn’t a good choice for spring planting. The new plot although smaller 20×30 ‘ is close to my old plot, which I’ve kept, so I’ll be alternating the barley between the plots each year. I planted on March 11 before we went away for a spring break vacation and when we came back everything had come up beautifully, especially the barley under the remay. You can see the difference in this picture, the beds in the front had the remay. The other beds will catch up after a few weeks.
The Bere is coming up well but the Chevalier seems a little sparse.
Check out John’s mower in action! pretty cool. The crop looks great. You can read more about his operation in the Home Growers and Maltsters section. Meanwhile up here in Canada mine is nowhere near harvesting but take a look at the Einkorn. It’s way taller than I though it would be. Sorry about the big ugly mug in the shot but it gives you an idea of the height of it.
Looks a little sparse but at least it’s growing. This picture and the one of the barley was taken on April 10 so it’s a little bigger now. I’ve got one 4 ft. by 10 ft. bed of Einkorn wheat and about 500 sq. ft. of Maris Otter this year so double the square footage from last year. Einkorn wheat is one of the oldest domesticated grain varieties dating back 10,000 years. It also keeps it’s hull like barley, so even though it must be a pain to process for food it should be great to brew with. Theoretically that is, I haven’t tried it yet. One potential problem is the amount of protein in this grain, a whopping 18% which is twice that of a good malting barley. That’s more protein than some ground beef! So I’m expecting something pretty hazy. According to this study it’s also high in beta carotene and Vitamin A, that’s kind of a bonus. Here’s a good description of Einkorn that also includes some recipes and here’s a description of some other ancient grains worth experimenting with if you can find them. Also check out this fantastic article all about hulled wheat
This picture of the barley was taken on the same day
This year I’ve had a stellar crop of barley, nearly 40 lbs! I can’t tell you the exact final tally because there is still some barley ripening in the garden but I do have over 38 lbs. here at home. A big part of this success I can attribute to the lack of mice, rats and birds. I can only guess as to why they left everything alone this year. I think the main reason is timing, not that I planned this, but we’ve had a very hot dry summer and everything is ripening early around here, even the blackberries are already ripe. So this means there’s a lot of food for the critters and I guess barley is not on the menu. The chicken wire also worked well again keeping the barley upright. Most of it would have lodged without it. So what about the quality? Usually when growing barley for malting you want low protein levels so the nitrogen levels in the soil are carefully controlled. I recently found a place in my area that will test my barely for protein content.
The claim I’ve made – ” a beer per square foot” is based on 4 19L batches of brew using 8 lbs of grain and an 80% efficiency. This would give you an S,G. of about 1.046. (a little low I know) Bottle size would be the small European size at 330ml. 228 bottles from 226 square feet of barley, not bad at all! This would make approximately 214 standard 355 mL bottles and 222 341 mL bottles.
This isn’t really a post, more of a visual update. I just bought a new lens for my camera so I’ll find any excuse to try it out. Weeds haven’t been an issue this year. In the beds with more compost, the barley is coming in so fast the weeds haven’t had a chance. I did a little weeding in the other beds today but there’s nothing that’s out-competing the barley. My cabbage isn’t doing too well, it’s looking rather chewed up. We have a lot of slugs here on the west coast but I can’t be too annoyed by them because they like my beer. They like it so much it kills them, poor little guys, I can relate.