Grain Gardens are for the Birds


In 1971, I purchased a combination wheat grinder-bread mixer. For several weeks I attended class demonstrations on a hundred uses of wheat. I thought that it would really be neat to some day be like the Little Red Hen and grow my own wheat and take it through the whole process with my children from the ground to the oven to make bread.


As the years passed, that idea was totally out of head until five years ago when we purchased our mini farm. I finally had a 10×10 patch of garden to grow winter wheat. Everyone said it would not grow in the Pacific Northwest. It only grew enough to make a bouquet to adorn the dining room table, but I was really proud of that accomplishment.

I set Little Red Hen aside for the time being and last spring decided to grow pots of different grains and set them in a special garden to enjoy their diverse and unique beauty, provide a bouquet for my dinning room table and most important, provide seeds for the birds.


I watched with anticipation as each grain emerged from the soil and developed its own characteristics. Millet with its red stems and tiny, tiny yellow seeds, buckwheat with its white flowers and black triangle seeds, flax that look like little pine trees, and barley that looks like a plush thick grass. I also planted Yamhill wheat, oats, amaranth and spelt.


Not only did these grains decorate the yard like flowers, visitors enjoyed the novelty as they had never seen growing grain. Even children were interested in how the grains go from the ground to their cereal or bread.


As fall sets in, I am enjoying my bouquet. I also love to see the birds flying from grain to grain feasting on the seeds. So after four months of human enjoyment, the grain garden is now for the birds. I look forward to planting it again next year.

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3 Responses to Grain Gardens are for the Birds

  1. Randi says:

    I have a question–maybe you will know the answer…The flax that you are growing, can you somehow harvest the seed and use it like the flaxseed you buy in the health food stores?

    • gramawama says:

      Thank you for asking. I personally have not harvested flax. According to various websites, pods form, the stalks are harvested and dried. They are placed in a paper sack or pillow case and hit with a rock or stepped on until they break up and you then remove the seeds from the pods. Sounds like a lot of work. I think I will stay with buying flax seeds in bulk and leave the work to the birds.

      • Randi says:

        Thanks for your reply! Yes, that does sound like a lot of work. Maybe I’ll attempt some grains next year. The grains in your photos look as pretty as ornamental grasses.

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