Introduction to Growing Oats at Home
Oats are a nutrient-rich grain that makes a wonderful meal not only for humans but also for livestock. Oats are a hardy grain and easy to grow. Growing Oats at home is also a great idea since Oats are an excellent source of manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, and copper. Oats also have beta-glucan, which has been reported in studies to lower cholesterol for people who are suffering from high cholesterol. Oats are an annual plant and planted in autumn (for late summer harvest) or in the spring (for early autumn harvest). In this article we also discuss the below topics;
- How much time it takes to grow Oats
- How do you grow Oats from seed
- Can you grow Oats at home
- Are Oats annual or perennial
- How are Oats grown and harvested
- Processing Oats at home
- How much water do Oats need to grow
- How to harvest Oats
A Step by Step Guide to Growing Oats in the Backyard At Home
Best Oats Varieties for Growing at Home
You can grow Oats as food for yourself or animals. Also, you can grow it as a cover crop or a nurse crop. Select a variety suited to your needs.
Hull-less Oats – Hull-less Oats, Avena Nuda, are also called “Naked Oats”. It takes 100 to 120 days for this plant to reach maturity. Look for Oat varieties like Streaker, which is resistant to crown rust. Plant it at a rate of 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Common Oats – Common Oats, Avena sativa, has a tough hull and needs a hand or machine threshing. It grows to maturity in 100 to 120 days. Common Oats grow well in acidic soils. They also have a lot of biomass if you want to use them as a cover crop and this variety is high yielding.
Forage Oats – Forage Oats is a winter-hardy variety that you can use as a cover crop or as for livestock. They are incredibly disease resistant, with a softer stem than common Oats. Look for some varieties like Reeves, Niagra, and Everleaf. These varieties mature in 49 to 56 days.
Black Oats – Black Oats, Avena strigosa, were originally grown as food for humans, but now it is used as fodder for livestock. It’s worth a go in the garden as a food crop or cover crop. Black Oats have high biomass, they’re easy to grow. They’re also called Japanese or bristle Oats.
The Best Soil Types for Growing Oats at Home
Oat adapts well to different soil types and can be grown successfully on loam soil to heavy soils. Even though Oats need a good amount of soil moisture, make sure the soil has good drainage, as Oats do poorly in waterlogged conditions. The soil must be tilled to a fine tilth, make sure the top layer of soil is not allowed to crust over. They like a pH level between 6-7. Oats need well-draining soil. Even though Oats need plenty of water they don’t like sitting in a puddle. Oats like moderately rich soil and add in plenty of aged manure before planting.
Pick the Right Location for Growing Oats at Home
- Plant Oats in a full sun location.
- When choosing a location in your garden, find a spot with soil that retains moisture and has sun exposure throughout the day.
- Oats need a consistent level of soil moisture.
- Select a location with a pH between 6 and 7. As with many plants, Oats flourish in soil that has a pH level that falls within this range. To start on the right foot, test the soil with a pH test strip in the area where you plan to plant Oat seeds. If the pH level doesn’t fall between 6 and 7, try a different location or adjust the pH level.
- You can raise the pH level by adding limestone to the soil.
- You can lower the pH by adding a fertilizer that has ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, or urea to the soil.
Oats Growing Season
It is best to start Oat seeds as early in the season, as Oats prefer to germinate in cool weather. Oat seeds do not transplant well and are easy to sow directly in the home garden; and, therefore, starting the seeds indoors is not advised.
Oats Growing Instructions
- First, soak 1/4 cup of grain in cool water for 6-12 hours.
- Drain off soak water and do not ever soak again.
- Rinse and Drain with cool water every 8 to 12 hours until your seeds have the tiniest root showing.
- Plant on a thoroughly moistened medium.
- Cover your crop with another tray, to keep light out and moisture in.
- Then, keep your medium moist by watering lightly as needed.
- When your grass is 1-2 inches tall, remove the cover and move your crop to a well-lighted location.
- Harvest when your grass is 4 to 12 inches tall by cutting just above the medium, with scissors or a sharp knife.
How to Plant Oats at Home
Step 1) Select a location in your garden that receives full to partial sun the majority of the day. The location you choose must have well-drained soil, as Oats will not thrive if they remain overly moist.
Step 2) Work fertile and well-drained soils in a sunny area of the garden with a shovel, spade, and hoe. Break up soil clumps, remove grass and weeds and loosen the soil to a depth of about 6 inches. Otherwise, if you are short on time and the plot is clear of weeds, just rake the soil thoroughly.
Step 3) Oats should be sown directly in the soil in the early spring season. Till your garden plot in fall so that soil will be loose and ready to plant.
Step 4) Sow the Oat seeds in the fall for a midsummer crop or in spring for a late summer crop. Check before purchasing the seeds since varieties are adapted to spring or fall planting. Plant between 2 to 3 pounds of Oat seed for every 1,000 square feet of the garden plot.
Step 5) Walk up and down the Oat plot from one end to the other, broadcasting the seeds in a fanning motion in front of you. Scatter the seeds lightly and evenly, aiming for 2 seeds per square inch. Alternatively, sow the Oat seeds with a crank-type seeder.
Step 6) You only need a small amount of dirt to cover the Oat seeds. Rake the seeded soil, working the seeds into the top about 2 inches of soil as you rake. Water lightly after raking to help the Oat seeds penetrate the soil.
Step 7) If you decide to plant in a garden area instead of a field, plant in rows to make them easier to maintain. Plant seeds 4 to 6 inches apart and in rows that are at least 12 inches apart. Then, keep seedbeds nice and damp as Oats need moisture to germinate.
Step 8) Spread about a 3-inch layer of loose straw over the area. Then, this mulch conserves soil humidity and regulates the ground temperature. Oat seeds need moisture to germinate and seedlings require moist soil to thrive. Water the plant weekly so that the combination of irrigation and rainwater will provide the crop with 1 inch of water per week.
Tips for Growing a Quality Oats at Home
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- Growing Oats is a simple and straightforward process. Planting your Oats is a good way to encourage a family’s consumption of this healthy grain.
- The selected location has well-drained soil because Oat plant grass will not thrive if they remain overly moist.
- Then, create a trench, using fingers or the side of a garden spade, the length of the row you are planting. Scatter the Oat seeds down the row, leaving 2 to 3 inches between each seed. Planting heavily will increase the likelihood of a successful crop, then many wild birds enjoying snacking on Oats.
- Cover the Oat seeds with 1 inch of soil, and water until thoroughly moistened. Then, continue to water any time the top inch of soil becomes dry.
- Prepare the selected location by tilling until the soil is well loosened. Scatter the Oat seeds down the row, leaving 2 to 3 inches between each seed. Then, thin the seedlings if you notice clumping, as none of the plants will thrive when overcrowded.
- Plant the seeds during spring or fall. If you’re growing Oats for food, plant them in the spring season so you have a summer harvest. If you’re growing Oats for ground cover, plant seeds in the early spring for green manure and plant them in the fall if you’re hoping to get a winter-killed ground cover.
- Lay the Oat seeds about 1⁄4 inch apart in rows. It’s best to plant seeds in evenly spaced rows. Continue doing this until you’ve filled the planting location.
- Keep the soil continuously moist. Stick your fingers about 1 inch or so into the soil as often as possible to make sure that it doesn’t feel dry. When it does feel dry, water the plants to encourage them to thrive.
- Weed the area once Oats start growing. Weeding the area before you plant the seeds is beneficial; you’ll need to continue doing it if you want Oats to thrive.
Grow Oat Grass in Pots
- Oats are used in a wide variety of methods, including as food for human consumption, as feed for livestock, as a cover crop for gardens, and even in beauty products. Though, unharvested Oats give an excellent food source for wild birds when planted as a cover crop. This versatile whole grain doesn’t need much special care to grow, and some varieties will germinate with a soil temperature as low as 1°C.
- Fill the pot loosely with potting soil. Use potting soil that has a pH level between 6 and 7. Mix about 1/2 tablespoon of slow-release balanced fertilizer per gallon of container capacity into the potting soil and blend it thoroughly.
- Water the potting soil and then slow-release fertilizer mix until it is evenly damp.
- Plant Oat seeds 1 inch deep and 1/4 inch apart from each other. Then, gently press the Oat seeds into the soil, and cover loosely with the damp potting mix.
- Place the planter in full sun where the plant will get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Oat grass takes about 2 weeks to germinate.
- Water carefully whenever the soil feels dry on top to maintain a moist growing environment.
- Harvest Oat grass for juicing when the blades grow about 6 to 10 inches tall.
- Harvest Oat grass seeds when the seed heads are plump and the grass stalks are turning brown, about 6 months after sowing the seeds. Then, cut the stalks at the soil line and break apart the seed heads to separate the Oats from the rest of the plant material.
Oats Growing Problems
Be sure to keep an eye out for red rust, growing on the foliage, in spring and the early summer season. Red rust can destroy the plant, but usually, it’s only a problem in cool damp conditions. If rust is noticed, try not to water the tops of the plants directly and make sure the plants have sufficient air circulation.
Major leaf diseases of Oat plants are stem rust, leaf rust, and barley yellow dwarf virus; and their severity changes with seasons. Leaf diseases of Oats impact plant yield and quality and reduce hay quality characteristics such as color and digestibility.
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Caring for the Oats at Home
- Oats are easy to care for throughout the season. In the spring season, make sure to remove any weeds that might be growing in your patch of Oats. Weeds tend to be less of a problem once the Oat grass starts to mature. In most cases, the Oat grass should smother out the weeds, if they are planted close enough.
- Sunlight is very important. Oats need light, and the more the better;
- Plant 3 to 5 Oat seeds separately in your 6-inch pot;
- Plant the Oat seed to your first knuckle or about 1 to 1½ inches below the top of the pot;
- Water well and then wait until the soil is dry on top to re-water. This should take about 1 week or so.
- At first, the Oat seeds won’t take much water but after a month or so they will need water almost every day;
- Adding a little fertilizer at about 1 month and again when the seeds start to appear will improve their health.
Harvesting Homegrown Oats
Once you harvest the Oat seeds, you will have to remove the husk from the seeds; and you can do this by threshing the seeds free from the stems and husks. To harvest your Oats, cut the seed heads from the stalks. A sharp knife or garden sickle will work fine.
Harvest once the Oat seed heads are dry. As you watch the Oats grow and then develop seed heads, gently touch a few of them to see if they’re damp or dry. Once, they’re dry to the touch, it’s time to harvest the Oat seeds. Approximately, it takes 6 months from the time the seeds are planted until the Oats are ready to be harvested.
After threshing, you will have to winnow the Oat seed from the chaff; and once all the chaff has been removed, you must have clean Oats ready for consumption. Then, store Oats in a cool and dry area. Keep your grains in an airtight container and then place the container somewhere in the home that is relatively cold and dry for as long as 3 months. Also, you can freeze them for up to 2 years if you prefer a long term storage option. If you have farm animals, you can put the discarded stalks in barn stalls and use them for bedding.
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