Types of grain with picture: how to recognize all types of grain | overview

Growing vegetables and fruit and keeping livestock are not the only options for self-sufficiency. It is also possible to grow different grain types and varieties in your own garden or greenhouse. You can use these not only for cooking and baking, but also as animal feed or to create an emergency supply.

Grain types and species

If you are looking for the right grain for your kitchen garden, you can choose from a large number of species and their varieties. For example, do you know what the difference is between soft and durum wheat or that there are several types of millet, one of which is even completely gluten-free? The more you know about the individual grain types and varieties, the easier it is to integrate them into your own garden. However, there is a big difference between the real types of grain and the so-called pseudo-grain:

  • Real grain: This refers to types of grain from the sweet grass family (bot. Poaceae).
  • Pseudo-grains: types of grain that have similar properties but do not belong to the grass family

A classic grain is of course wheat, while a pseudo-grain would be buckwheat, which despite its name is not a sweet grass but a knotweed plant (bot. Polygonaceae). Real and pseudo-cereals can be used in many similar ways, although the pseudo-cereals are rarely used in baking because of their properties. Wheat and rye are the most important crops in Central Europe, rice in Asia and corn in America. You can take advantage of all these types and varieties in your own garden and integrate them effectively into your diet. Best of all, even a few cereal plants in the garden provide quite high harvest yields, which makes them ideal for self-sufficiency.

wheat

Wheat ( bot. Triticum ) is the European grain par excellence. The grain is used for a wide range of applications, be it for baking bread, making pasta or as feed for animals. Five types of wheat are used by humans, but you can easily grow them yourself. These differ mainly in their use:

  • Soft wheat : made into flour for all kinds of baked goods, known as “bread wheat”
  • Durum wheat : processed into pasta such as noodles
  • Emmer : the original form of wheat, which is particularly nutritious and suitable for direct consumption
  • Einkorn : another ancestral form of wheat, highly nutritious, used in pasta and beer
  • Spelled : used for pasta and baked goods

Wheat is more difficult to grow than initially thought. For this reason, wheat is not suitable for beginners in grain cultivation. Further information:

  • Growth height: 50 – 100 cm
  • Harvest time : July
  • challenging
  • Soil: rich in nutrients and heavy
  • hardy to -20°C

Tip: Wheat is sown as either winter or spring wheat, which significantly affects yields. While spring wheat is sown in spring, which means it is easier to care for and produces lower yields, winter wheat allows a rich harvest after sowing in autumn, but requires more care.

barley

Barley ( bot. Hordeum vulgare ) is a typical ingredient for beer and is often used as cattle feed, but more rarely for human consumption. Hordeum vulgare is one of the oldest crops and is extremely easy to grow. Even for beginners among the self-sufficient without much knowledge, this is not a problem and is preferable to wheat, by the way. The awns of the ears are rough and feel like sandpaper, which makes it easy to distinguish them from rye. In addition, the awns are straight up. Further information:

  • Height of growth: 70 – 120 cm – Harvest time: end of June – end of July
  • undemanding and weatherproof
  • Soil: moist and deep
  • hardy to -15°C
  • can be grown as summer or winter barley
  • Feed recommendation: pigs, chickens
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oats

Oats ( bot. Avena ) are one of the classic types of grain. It can be made into oatmeal, flour, and even a vegan milk substitute. Oats are particularly easy to thrive and grow like mad, especially when it’s wet. In addition, home-grown oats are significantly healthier, since polluted soil significantly affects the taste and concentration of the ingredients. Oats are a good alternative for beginners who want to grow grains for self-sufficiency. Oats are easy to distinguish by the panicles. The plant bears no ears. Further information:

  • Growth height: 60 – 150 cm
  • Harvest time: July to the end of August
  • undemanding
  • needs a lot of rain
  • Soil: loamy or light
  • hardy to -20°C
  • works well as horse feed

Tip: Oats are ideal for regions with a lot of rain, because the plant even tolerates permanently wet soil.

trip

Rice ( bot. Oryza sativa ) is one of the heaviest grains to choose to grow in your own garden. The reason: Rice needs a constantly high level of humidity and consumes a lot of water, even when cultivated dry. In Germany, cultivation is only possible in a greenhouse, since a summer that is too dry or too cold can quickly lead to the death of the plant. Unique to rice are the numerous varieties, numbering over 100,000, many of which are consequently only grown in certain regions of the world. A majority of these strains that humans use come from the species Oryza sativa, also known as the Asian rice. They are divided into the following three groups, which determine the length and application:

  • Long grain rice: length of at least 6 mm, used for savory dishes
  • Medium grain rice: length from 5.2 to 6 mm, used for dishes such as rice pudding or risotto
  • Short-grain rice: length up to 5.2 mm, usually stickier, well suited for paella, sushi or rice balls
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Each group is derived from different subspecies of Oryza sativa. This allows you to specifically grow a form of rice and use it specifically for certain dishes. If you prefer to long grain rice, grow Oryza sativa ssp. indica because it doesn’t stick. Oryza sativa ssp. japonica, on the other hand, is the classic short-grain rice, which the Japanese use most frequently, judging by the botanical name. Medium grain rice would be the subspecies Oryza sativa ssp. javanica, although sometimes longer japonica variants also fall under this designation. An advantage of rice are the high yields once the cultivation works. In addition, rice itself is gluten-free, which makes it suitable for sensitive people. Further information:

  • Growth height: 50 – 160 cm
  • Harvest time: mid-September – late October
  • demanding in terms of location and climate
  • hardy to -20°C

Tip: Oryza sativa isn’t the only type of rice you can grow. African rice (bot. Oryza glaberrima) is the only cultivated species of rice native to West Africa and is as difficult to grow as Oryza sativa in Central Europe.

millet

Millet ( bot. Panicum miliaceum ) was the most important of all cereals for a long time. Nowadays it is used only slightly, but due to its undemanding nature it is particularly suitable for the first steps in the cultivation of cereals. In addition, the grain provides high yields for private consumption, which is really worth it. A distinction is made between two main groups, both of which are suitable for home cultivation:

  • Sorghum ( bot. sorghum ): high yields, large grains, about 30 species
  • Millet Millet ( bot. Paniceae ): smaller yields, small grains, over 1,500 species

Both groups are very healthy, useful as animal feed, for cooking, for making desserts, as a source of fiber, and even for brewing beer and spirits. It is very versatile and clearly distinguishable from other grains. Further information:

  • Growth height: 300 – 500 cm
  • Harvest time: early September
  • extremely undemanding in terms of soil and climate
  • hardy to -20°C
  • It is often used as bird feed
  • gluten free
  • possible renewable raw material for biomass

Most

If you choose corn ( bot.  Zea mays), you should not live too wet. The plant is better suited to temperate and warmer climates. Maize delivers high yields and the plants can be cultivated in your own kitchen garden without much knowledge. Sweet corn (bot. Zea mays Saccharata) is particularly recommended, as it is particularly easy to care for and undemanding. Children can even help with the harvest here, as the cobs are easy to remove. As soon as the hair on the cobs turns brown, it is time to harvest. Further information:

  • Growth height: 100 – 300 cm
  • Harvest time: mid-September – first week of October
  • undemanding to the location, high crop yields in nutrient-rich soil
  • well suited for very dry, hot areas
  • gluten free
  • used fresh or cooked for consumption
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rye

Rye ( lat. Secale cereale ) is one of the most popular types of grain in cooler regions because it is hardy and easy to grow. Secale cereale is often confused with barley because both cereals have long awns on the ears. However, the rye ears are softer, elongated and gray in colour. You can make whole grain or brown bread from rye because it is full of fiber, which is good for your digestion. Further information:

  • Growth height: 120 – 200 cm
  • Harvest time: mid-July – early September
  • undemanding
  • well suited for cultivation in northern areas
  • tolerates drought extremely well
  • hardy to -25°C
  • Whiskey is made from rye malt

Pseudocereal

The types of grain described so far are the classic grains, which belong to the sweet grasses. In addition to these, as mentioned above, there are the pseudo-cereals, which are used like cereals but belong to different families. These have established themselves in many parts of the world over the millennia and can be easily grown in your own kitchen garden:

  • Flaxseed ( bot. Linum usitatissimum ): food and fiber plant
  • Amaranth ( bot. Amaranthus ): gluten-free
  • Hops ( bot. humulus ): used exclusively for brewing beer
  • Quinoa ( bot. Chenopodium quinoa ): gluten-free
  • Buckwheat ( bot. Fagopyrum ): contains all amino acids essential for humans
  • Chia ( bot. Salvia hispanica ): yielding

Pseudo grains provide high yields and are packed with nutrients. Hops, flaxseed and buckwheat are much easier to grow than American pseudocereals. They are used to the local temperatures and therefore do not need to be grown in a greenhouse.

Tip: Not only numerous, exotic dishes can be prepared with pseudo-cereals, such as a protein-rich, sweet chia pudding. You can brew your own beer from hops, linseed can be processed into bread and buckwheat into pasta.

Triticale

A special grain is triticosecale, known under the name triticale. This grain is not a natural type of grain, but a cultivated hybrid of rye and wheat. For this hybrid, female wheat and male rye plants are crossed, which has been the case since the 19th century. Depending on the composition of the soil, the rye or wheat aroma come to the fore more strongly. These two types of grain were finally crossed in order to increase yields on nutrient-poor soils in Central Europe. At the same time, triticale is significantly less demanding than wheat and has a higher yield than rye. This, however, makes the crop good for beginners or home growers whose soils are unsuitable for other crops. More information as follows:

  • Growth height: 60 – 120 cm
  • Harvest time: mid-July – late August
  • undemanding
  • hardy to -20°C
  • Usage: grain feed, baked goods (sourdough)

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