Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How To Grow Rice at Home

At least how I grew rice in my backyard anyway. I'm sure there are plenty of ways to do it but this is what worked for me. I should mention that my climate is generally hot and dry in the summer and the rice was grown in full sun. It may not be as successful in a cooler climate or one where the growing season is short. In a cooler area it would probably be best to grow it in a bucket just as an experiment or for fun/interest. The whole family got involved in this project which I was grateful for especially when it came time to thresh and de-husk.

The first step is to procure some seed. Just simple brown rice from the supermarket is fine. I used biodynamic rice as I wanted something that hadn't been overly treated or processed.

In my experiment, I used an old bathtub filled with compost as a growing medium. The compost was not sifted and was quite moisture retentive and thankfully relatively weed free. This made it ideal. The growing area was about 0.8 square metres and eventually provided us with 400 grams of rice to eat. Enough for a meal.

I soaked the seeds overnight and then directly sowed them onto the flooded bed. Over the course of the summer, I maintained the soil moisture but it was not necessary to flood the bed. Just kept it moist.

The first shoots appeared after about a week and it grew rapidly. It took 23 weeks to the day from planting to harvest. It is a low maintenance crop. All the work comes after the harvest.

The seeds heads develop and about a month later, they have browned off and are nodding and ready to harvest. At this stage it is a good idea to ease off with watering which allows the grains to continue to ripen and dry out.

To harvest such a small amount, it is easy enough to just cut below the seed heads and then allow them to dry out further in a sunny, dry spot. Threshing a small amount can be done by stripping the seeds from the plant by hand. The tough job is removing the husks. Once you have tried it, you can see why it is done by machine and why we buy rice rather than grow it.

The way I removed the husks was by using a mortar and pestle to gently rub the grain and dislodge the hull. This still proved tedious and after winnowing, many grains had to go back for a second or third turn in the mortar and pestle.

The rice can be stored then or enjoyed straight away. One thing is for sure when you have processed the rice yourself, you will make sure the meal is something special with the rice as the star.

Growing rice has sparked a whole grain growing frenzy in our home. I now have spelt, oats and rye in and plans for other grains next summer. Yes, I will grow rice again next summer even if it is tedious to process. Next time I will try growing in regular garden beds as well as the container system. It was a great learning experience and the kids enjoyed it too. I would like to especially thank my husband ,Tim, for his efforts in processing the rice once it was harvested. Thankfully he doesn't give up easily.



Janice said...

Your rice looks lovely. It's been interesting following the progress. Rather labour intensive at the end by all accounts. What did you end up making with it?

Megan said...

That sounds like way to much for me! Way to go with sticking to it! I hope your meal was absolutely delicious!

Vickie said...

I am so happy that it all worked for you and wonderfult o read it was a family affair,well done,cheers Vickie

Blore said...

Tim sure is the king of perserverance! He may take a while to complete his jobs but he usually gets around to them in the long run.

Tambry said...

I am new to the concept and with the recent flooding I am researching this topic. Thank you for your post. If I understand you correctly, 10 square FEET = enough rice for one meal, is that correct? Seems like a lot of work for $.50 of rice!

farmer_liz said...

very interesting, I hope you will update us when you finish with the other grains. I'd be interested to know which one gave you the best yield for time/space/money. Probably the easiest to dehusk would be the winner for me! Sounds like hard work... I'm also considering growing grains for the chickens, which they can harvest for themselves when they are ready :)

Tim Parsons said...

I agree, though i do have a good story, for the dedicated and patient grower/farmer -though I wouldn't call myself a farmer by any means,

I lived in Central America for a while and, out of curiosity and a bit of a green thumb, I ended up with what was a sun baked yard turning into a shaded and beautiful garden with lemon, almond, and orange trees (as well as with veggies, herbs and ornamentals)... After two years and a change in location. (the garden takes care of itself if conditions allow).

I recommend everybody making their own path and definitely being patient...

Thanks for the post!

pastorv said...


Kitara said...

How beatiful!!congratulations

Andrea Hicks said...

Very Cool! I am considering growing rice after a failed quinoa attempt. I don't think I can grow the same variety you did because my growing season is shorter, but I'm still researching. On the subject of other grains: if you haven't already picked out wheat to try, I totally recommend kamut khorasan wheat. I did it this year, and it was super hardy with a massive yield per plant. Good luck!