How to process and cook with local buckwheat


Homemade buckwheat porridge
Photo by Mari Stuart

Local buckwheat is a fantastic cereal to grow on a small scale. Many gardeners grow buckwheat as a cover crop, but don’t end up harvesting and using the oatmeal. But since you took the trouble to cultivate it, you might as well eat it! Sweet almonds and walnuts have a favorable nutritional profile, forming a complete protein. Buckwheat is also gluten-free, making it a great alternative to use in breads, muffins, and pancakes – or on its own as a baked grain.

(Technically, buckwheat is not a grain but a seed, or a pseudo-grain, like amaranth or quinoa. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll call it grain.)

Growing buckwheat

Buckwheat is a remarkably hardy plant. It grows well even in low fertility soils and requires minimal irrigation. It has few disease or insect problems, attracts beneficial pollinators – and of course, it’s a great green manure besides being edible.

However, you want to plan the planting well. Buckwheat prefers cool temperatures, but is sensitive to frost. It is therefore somewhat difficult to determine an optimal window of time for planting buckwheat, which has a time from seed to harvest of 10 to 15 weeks. In the Northeastern United States, the right time to plant might be in the middle of summer. I garden in zone 7a, in the southern Appalachians, and the best time to plant buckwheat here is around mid-August. Buckwheat grows during the cooler fall weeks, but can still be harvested before the first frost, which occurs here in late October.


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