Hand sowing, hand weeding and the rise of Horatio – planting out 2020

Steve and Tania planted out all of the remaining seeds, by hand, on a blustery Winter day in 2020.  It was a humble plot of grains, soon dwarfed by fields of rye but marked out ever so carefully with posts and a map for later identification. The plot was then hand weeded by Steve, Tania and family and watched over by team-mate scarecrow Horatio.  One of the red wheat varieties sadly was completely eaten by birds, hence the rise of Horatio! Out of hectares and hectares of crops, not only did the birds target the trial plot, even the farm dogs also thought they were exceptionally more tasty than the rest.  Must be on to something here guys!  

Fortunately, the trial plot also provided an interesting diversion from the 2020 news. Whilst Victoria went through its various stages of lockdowns, the farm crew were able to wander down the paddocks and concentrate on weeding the plot whilst watching the diversity grow.  By October 2020 when restrictions were eased a little, Jackie and I were able to pop down and have a look too.  We did some token weeding but mostly wandering.  The plants were all about knee high and varied in colours from greens to purples.

Each little packet was grown out separately in its own little run.  This was a good way to really see how each different grain grew and handled the soil, the weeds, the climate and the growing season.  As the trial plot grew we could see just how different each run was, even when the grain was just a different succession of the same type.  Taller, shorter, large heads, small heads, bearded, non-bearded, some grew more leaves near the stem which helped block out weeds and some were ready to harvest before others.  All of these different factors gave us a lot to think about regarding what we should do with them after harvest and for the following year.

By Nick

(with edits from Tan & Jac)