This wheat growing experiment is sure interesting. Some of the wheat germinated right away, and some patches were pretty bare. I re-seeded those bare patches, and in some cases the seeds germinated but in some they did not. I can't figure out why: It wasn't species-specific and it wasn't soil-specific and it wasn't what-crop-grew-there-before-specific. So who knows? The bottom line is that some beds are very full and others are not. In all cases, though, the wheat is now tillering.
A 'tiller' is nothing more than a stem in grasses, and refers to all stems after the initial cotyledon shoot (remember, grass is a monocot, and has only one cotyledon leaf or shoot). Tillers have the ability to be seed-bearing, so it makes sense that you want good tillering. If the wheat is planted close together, it will grow more in height before tillering, but if the wheat has plenty of room, it'll tiller early and get wider rather than taller. It's a fine line between a thick stand and a too-thick stand. If you google 'tillering in wheat' you'll get a bunch of academic articles about how much tillering you should have, how to convert that into bushels-per-acre, etc. However, since this is not a crop we intend to sell (and there's not enough of it anyway), I'm not going to try to mold the wheat to my specifications. Rather, I'm just going to watch and see what it does. And it's interesting to watch, that's for sure. I caught the cat in one of the beds eating the tops of the wheat one day; who knows who else is snacking on it.
I'm growing crimson clover in with it, and in with everything in fact, to try to get some nitrogen into the soil (*see final note below) and also provide coverage (living mulch) and biomass. The birds ate a LOT of the clover seed I put down, but there's still some coming up in nearly every bed.
Speaking of birds, it became apparent that the sparrows were eating all our salad greens - kale and chard especially. They'd sit on the edge of these pots and tear the leaves off from the edges. I finally had to put some netting over them to keep them out - they were really destroying our crop of winter greens.
I had never seen the birds do that before. I've seen goldfinches eat sunflower leaves, but that's the only time I've seen birds (other than chickens) eat greens. Guess they need salad, too.
I decided to minimize my losses in the beds where the wheat germinated badly, and put all the brassicas in the ground. They were really at the limits of their gallon pots, and I was having to feed them fish emulsion every week to keep them going, and the squirrels had gotten to them (especially the cauliflower) and eaten the tender centers. So I went ahead and put them all out in the beds, where the wheat was sparse. This makes me feel so much better. Keeping them in pots was an interesting experiment, but they are not heading the way they should, and I think that's due to the fact that the pots were too small.
However some other things are doing just fine in pots. Beets, carrots, and greens - all looking well. I discovered some fat green caterpillars on my carrots the other day, and removed them all (seven in total) and gave them to the chickens. I forgot to take a picture. They were not swallowtail caterpillars - if they were, I probably would have relocated them to the fennel. They were green throughout and I can't figure out what they were. Any ideas?
The shallots, garlic, and peas are all doing wonderfully, and I just ate my first peas this morning while out weeding. Delish. Spring peas are good but autumn peas are just as tasty!
A final note about the wheat: I'm growing heirloom varieties, so yield should be about 30 pounds per 1000 sq feet. If I get 30 pounds, I'll be absolutely delighted. I expect more like 10. I planted three different kinds - Red Fife, Emmer, and Sonora White. The Sonora is a soft wheat and the others are hard wheats. Hard wheats generally have more protein (good for bread making) and soft wheats less protein (better for pastas and cakes).
A final note about clover: As you most likely know, plants in the legume family (Fabaceae) will take nitrogen out of the air and fix it into nodules at its roots. In order to have that happen, there needs to be plenty of air down in the roots (lots of organic matter will provide good aggregation, NOT tilling), as that's where the nitrogen from the air comes from. The nodules are formed by a bacteria and the plant develops the nodules to protect the nitrogen-rich bacteria and keep it for its own use. When the plant produces fruit, it uses that nitrogen up. So if you want the plants to provide nitrogen for your soil, do not allow these plants to set fruit. For instance, you plant beans or peas, you eat the fruit of them, you've eaten the nitrogen that the roots collected, and that's fine! But if you cut them down before the plant fruits, that nitrogen, in nodules on the roots, will break down in the soil and enter the microbial cycle, being eaten and then pooped out etc, and will be available to the next crop you put in there. It's also helpful to put the green material that you cut down (the shoots and leaves) of the legume on top of the soil, to break down and provide nitrogen that way too.
If you grow peas next to broccoli, say, can the legume roots share nitrogen with the broccoli plant? Not really. The nitrogen is bound up in the plant until it is cut down. At that point, the nitrogen becomes available to anything else left nearby. Also, if there is a fungal association formed between the broccoli and pea roots, it's possible the nitrogen would be shared that way, but it's unlikely. So! You're only providing nitrogen to the environment AFTER the plant is cut down. Not during. During, the nitrogen is only available to the legume, for the most part. And if you let the plant form fruit, the nitrogen has been mostly used up (though putting green matter down in your beds will always allow for some nitrogen to get back in the soil; not mixing it in, mind, but just laying on top to decompose).
I'd love to know what autumn/fall veg and fruits you all are growing, and how they are doing, regardless of climate. Please feel free to share in the comments!