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.