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Posted by JeanKerrigan, Monday 18th March, 2013

Spring wheat planted at Brixton Windmill

Friends plant wheat in muddy conditions

It was extremely muddy planting spring wheat at Brixton Windmill last Saturday

Image: Andy Forbes, Brockwell Bake

In very wet conditions FoWG planted 31 square metres of heritage and modern spring wheat in Windmill Gardens on Saturday.

Despite the endless rain our parks group mustered five intrepid gardeners to plant four varieties of wheat kindly sourced for us by Brockwell Bake.

As wheat cannot be grown in the same spot year on year the wheat plot this year is a bit further away from Brixton Windmill where we successfully grew and harvested wheat last year.

Heritage wheat grows much taller than the modern varieties of wheat introduced after WWII and grown across the world today. The biggest patch planted on Saturday was, Damants heritage spring wheat mix. It consists predominantly of the ‘landrace’ English April Bearded variety last commonly cultivated during the 19th Century. A ‘landrace’ is a genetically diverse mix traditionally planted by farmers in a specific area.

Smaller patches of Meteor a slightly shorter variety of wheat last grown in the UK in the 1940s and Atle, a Swedish wheat grown up to the 1950s were the other two heritage varieties planted. Finally we planted a small patch of Paragon, a modern short variety.

Planting a mix of varieties together, and particularly the taller heritage ones, can produce a crop that keeps out weeds better and is more resistant to disease.

We hope that members of the public and school parties who come to visit Brixton Windmill over the summer will be able to see the difference between the four varieties of wheat growing in the raised bed near the entrance to Windmill Gardens.

Now all we have to do is make sure the birds do not steal the seeds we have so carefully planted!