Seeds made simple
Wheat seeds are often available at gardening and DIY stores or online. Check that the seeds are the right ones for the time of year you’re planting:
- Winter wheat is planted in the autumn and harvested from mid-May.
- Spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in autumn.
Both spring and winter wheat are divided into:
- Soft wheat, which has a low gluten content and is used for pastries and crackers,
- Hard wheat which is high in gluten and used for bread, and durum wheat which is used for pasta.
The type that’s best for you will depend on where you live. It’s worth asking for advice in the gardening store you buy your seeds from.
A whole lot of grains
One bushel of wheat contains around a million individual whole grain kernels.
War On Whole Grain
Amaranth is a whole grain that was incredibly important to the Aztecs. So when the Spanish invaded, their leader, Cortez, tried to destroy the Aztecs by not allowing them to grow it - anyone caught was put to death!
1. It’s all about timing
Wheat should be planted in the spring or the autumn – timing is important, so it’s a good idea to make a note on your calendar of when you need to start planting your seeds.
2. Prepare the soil
You’ll need some good rich soil, so it’s best to dig in some compost. (You can buy bags of compost at garden centres and DIY stores. Or you could make your own by throwing all your food waste into a compost bin. It takes a few months for it to be ready to use, but it’s worth the wait.) Make sure the ground is fairly even - you can use a shovel and rake to do this. Most children love digging and raking – so sit back and let them play!
3. Get planting
Sprinkle the seeds over the soil - you need 3 oz for every 100 square feet (85 g for every 10 square meters). It’s best to help your child do this – just in case you get wheat in your flower beds!
4. Rake it out
Rake over the soil to cover the seeds. Help your child out with this job as it needs a gentle touch.
5. Scare the crows!
You probably won’t need a scarecrow – but if you’re planting outside you’ll need to cover the seeds to protect them from birds.
6. Just add water
Make sure the seeds get enough water - if it doesn’t rain, water them once a day. (Why not get your child their own little watering can?) If you go away, instead of asking a neighbour to water your crop, you could use an automatic watering system. You can pick up an inexpensive and easy to use kit from your local DIY stores or garden centre.
7. See how they grow!
Be patient, and before long you’ll see the first green shoots. By midsummer (or a bit later for spring wheat) the colour of the stalks will turn from green to yellow or brown. And the heads will become heavy with grain and start to bend forward. So now you have your own crop of golden wheat, what are you going to do with it? Well, you could harvest it and make your own wheat flour. Alternatively, you could sit back and admire your beautiful golden wheat – it really does look fantastic and is an unusual addition to your garden or outside area.
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Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too.
A ‘whole’ grain has more nutrients than a ‘refined’ grain, because all parts of the grain are retained – kernel, bran, endosperm and germ – along with their fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. But most of the bran and germ are removed when producing refined grains. Whole grains therefore contain more nutrients than refined grains.
The general name for proteins found in cereal grains such as wheat. It holds the food together, like a ‘glue’, and gives dough its elasticity.
Keep it simple: make grains the base of your diet and choose whole grains over refined grains wherever possible. U.S Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 3 servings (48g) a day. So, whenever you look for breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, rice or flour to cook at home, look for the word “whole”, ideally among the first ingredients in the list.
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