[permaculture] Need plant variety ID

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Mon Sep 4 11:06:30 EDT 2006

Lawrence-- The seed head shown in your millet1.jpg looks large to me. If you 
have a lot of these plants I would say it's something productive to encourage 
in any spare land you aren't using for crops. My guess would be white proso, 
which is much preferred by birds to the red proso, which has larger seeds but 
apparently is not as tasty. I suspect the red variety is just added so the mix 
looks prettier to bird fanciers. The birds all seem to leave it behind.

Just guessing, but if you wanted to remove the hulls you could try gently 
abrading the separated seeds after sun drying them, so that the chaff comes off-- 
then blow it away. Either a metate (large mortar and pestle) or in a pinch 
two squares of ply wood ought to do it. Use a light touch so you don't mash the 
hulls into the kernels.

If you want to encourage another wild grain that ought to grow well in your 
soil, try amaranth. Extremely high protein content (16-23%), it was relied on 
by the pre-Columbian Aztecs as a meat substitute. You might recall they had no 
meat animals, and supported large, healthy populations on amaranth and 
insects. Curiously they never utilized their seafood resources, having been scared 
off by the incidence of red tide in those latitudes. They apparently never 
learned to distinguish the toxic blooms, and came to believe all seafood was 
occasionally poisonous.

Here's some good lore on amaranth:





Particularly interesting is that some varieties are grown for their leafy 
greens rather than just for the seed heads. And this is also a beautiful crop 
just to have in field or garden, to admire until harvesting. 

With both plants it would probably be a good idea to look into how resistant 
the stored grain is to mold, rust and smut. I would keep it in the fridge once 
ground into meal, to avoid getting occasional spells of St Vitus Dance.

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