Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I have some field corn coming on -- various types -- for later grindings as I had trouble getting polenta.

And I love polenta. The world of grits yay!

Anyway I became interested in Millet as a cover crop  but I soon found millet -- Pearl Millet--was difficult to obtain unless you haunt Indian groceries.

But I did get some and am ready to plant some. Once you have millet growing you probably will always have millet growing. The birds will love you for it too.

Since I got a kilogram we ate some for dinner and en route to the stove I discovered the wonderful world of millet based foods. Very impressive is millet as a grain to eat and enjoy.

It is nutritionally superior to many of our common grains, containing more essential amino acids than wheat, oats, rice, barley, and rye.

No gluten too...and a lot cheaper than Quinoa.

And get this, Brisbanites!

Pearl millet is well adapted to growing areas characterized by drought, low soil fertility, and high temperature. It performs well in soils with high salinity or low pH. Because of its tolerance to difficult growing conditions, it can be grown in areas where other cereal crops, such as maize or wheat, would not survive. Pearl millet is a summer annual crop well-suited for double cropping and rotations.

Needless to say, Millet is easy to grow.

Pearl millet, for example, is grown on over 70 million acres worldwide, an area larger than all the wheat fields combined in the U.S.

I got my millet from 2Brothers in Perth because their price was great....but then I often get my Masa Harina from Melbourne (off a boat from Mexico). Even then I have to shop around as supplies are fickle.

I mention this as I suspect I may be also be embracing Millet as a  regular grain for home consumption. So I fret about supplies.

(Indian Pearl Millet is twice the price of the local stock I purchased. I mention this because you should always be quarantine aware. But at $3 per kilogram -- who is going to protest the local product.)

I reckon millet would make a great roadside verge crop. Ready to plant anywhere. And, if tucker beckons, you know how many 'pearls' sit upon a millet head. You probably don't -- but there's a ready feed from a small harvest when you have millet growing

Then there's millet as a cover crop.It's an excellent weed suppressor & fast growing.

For an investigative and fascinating discussion on Pearl Millet's wonders, go here for free book or chapters.

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What's left from tonight's  Pearl Millet feast. Looks like couscous or rise or cracked wheat.

I cooked the millet then made a braise from various veg which I then mixed with the Millet and stewed further.

My pressure cooker was handy as I did not soak the Millet beforehand.

The taste is akin to a mix of corn and the nuttiness of cracked wheat but eat 'pearl' gets its own coating of sauce.Very satiating. A cup of millet was way more than adequate.

The millet adventure continues. Awesome grain it is. Love the taste and texture. So satiating.

Nutritionally the research is very supportive of its consumption as a premier grain. Go here for a free downloaded cookbook (in English) with a very generous collection of recipes.

And go here for a useful overview of Millet.

For a simple prep DIY: this is good-- Cooking Millet.

Since a cup of millet is more than enough for a family feed -- growing your own supply seems feasible. The other advantage is that it makes a great green mulch and you can use it to feed your poultry.

Since I've only recently scattered some in a few places I cannot vouch for the growing thereof. You can, rather than pay seeders prices, get locally grown millet from whole foods shops. Much cheaper than quinoa -- but as 'miracle-ly'.

Grows in dry and hot climates akin to ours.

Much of the millet research is coming out of India where it is a primary food crop. Among the studies -- and others -- millet has garnered a reputation as a good grain for diabetes as in dietary prevention  or as part of a  treatment menu.

Here's an overview: Millet for diabetes.

If you have been exposed to cracked wheat --burghal-- or couscous,  you'd have a sense of millet's potential.

Eat Tabbouleh and you are eating burghal.

In Turkish cuisine, pilafs are routinely either made from rice or cracked wheat. Fact is, you could make any pilaf from Millet -- as I did tonight.

Oh the thrill of the stock I cooked it in! Leftovers do not last long in our house. Millet is a reheat/microwave godsend without the infection iffiness of reheated rice.

Worth knowing because (a) white rice is such an empty carbohydrate, (b) brown rice can take so long to prep and (c) millet is gluten free.

I knew there was a reason I favourited this thread. Grain is a big missing element in my journey. 

I have access to ample protein now: be it eggs, fish (I still need breed in a small tank fish - I buy fingerlings), quail or no-meats like Madagascar patties and falafels.  That was huge step number 1.  In fact, I supply eggs to two other households. 

My fruit trees are pushing 3 - 5 years old and actually starting to produce reasonable fruit now. Step number 2.  It gets better with time. 

I have lots of different greens.  My Rozie won't eat a lot of them but she would if she got hungry enough.  Step 3. 

Spices:  really starting to nail that one as well.  Learning to use the curry tree was big help.  We use a lot of turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, kaffir leaf etc which I grow.  Garlic remains the missing link.  While I use a lot of it, I could adapt if needs be.  I need to work on a way to replace cumin.  Might have to do some research on that. 

Doing okay on veges but failing to meet an annual supply need, especially without boredom.  I actually understand the strengths of my yard now so I am hoping to improve in this department.  We live and learn. 

Grains were a complete fail.  I had assumed it would be impossible on my tiny site.  Millet is quite promising it would seem.  I'm happy to give it a go. 

Just saying: millet may grow anywhere you throw the seeds -- like even on the verge. Cut your grass? No need -- it's millet!

I see where it works as a hedge -- 50cm high.

Rest a bed or pot by growing millet in it.

I'm growing field corns too -- Hopi and Dent --as well as Sweet Corn (Balinese). Experimenting to see what I can get away with given that corn shades other plants and doesn't like shade itself. I'll be sewing some millet in my seed growing cells tomorrow for later planting out in strategic places. Single lines of millet plants make for an easy fit.

The other cereal  is sunflower but you really have to de-husk the seeds to do anything with them. I'd also look at Amaranth, Andrew.

Similar attributes to Millet seeds, but Amaranth grows big -- like  over 2 metres. And you can eat the leaves. When I grew it the plants self seeded easily.

Quinoa is another option. As a cousin of Amaranth it has a similar growth habit. Despite Quinoa's  fashionable status, I can't see how much it differs from Amaranth or Millet as a nutritious meal.But Quinoa seeds purchased to cook are way more expensive than Millet at my local wholefoods -- Simply Good at Morayfield.

My millet seeds are seedling up nice in my cell trays. I hope 'tis Pearl Millet as the seeds sure looked like that.

Today I rode into town for supplies -- as one does -- and stocked up on Hulled Millet and  Polenta. I also purchased some Millet flour to make Millet Rotis.

Method is the same as making tortillas.

The interesting feature of both Millet and Polenta is that you can grow your own supply with limited post harvest processing. I love both.

A few spoon fulls of cooked Millet in  your soup broth is a great way to elevate the nutritional profile.

I also bought some organic Quinoa and may try to get that to strike.Quinoa  is twice the price of Millet. Quinoa produce large seed heads but grows to up to 2 metres tall. Seeds available here.

I've grown Amaranth before and dug out an old seed packet I had to see if I could do so again.

Small scale grain crops are quite interesting really.  Adds a whole new dimension. 

FYI: I just came upon this interesting article on the Milpa system of agriculture --  a '3 Sisters' variation.

Point beig that millet will fit in to the nutritional and ecological fusion offered by La Milpa.

'Milpa' makes me feel real good about the every which way of growth in my kitchen garden. Still, I have  a lot to learn. But despite my dilettantism it seems my road leads to La Milpa.

Further on Milpa...

So much of the online stuff available is in Spanish but there are the occasional thread on offer.

This is useful: short commentaries on Milpa, albeit dated:

While we do not slash and burn I appreciate the fact that the annual veg are separated from the perennials in a transition forest garden ruled by polyculture.

This is a useful introduction:

While reading up on that site there was a link to Tepary beans, which was interesting as well. Good info Dave, there is a lot we don't know about edible plants and seeds or grains.  I would love to try Millet porridge later when I go back on solid food. 

I grew a huge patch of tepary beans. Use it as a green manure.

I'm going to look into this crop.  


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