Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sorting the sorghum

This year I grew, or tried to grow 4 varieties of sorghum. Sorghum tends to be a forgotten garden grain that really should be better known. They are more drought tolerent than corn and just as easy to grow in the back yard. The seeds are also easy to grind for flour.
This year was bad for germinating it, just like the corn. My African white (used for syrup and grain) did not germinate at all but luckily I still have some seed from last year.

There are 4 types of sorghum grown for different applications -
Grain, a great alternative to other grains;
Popping, I have not grown this yet;
Broom, Grown to make old fashioned brooms with; and
Sweet, grown for the sweet sap that can be made into syrup for cooking with.


 I was a bit curious about this 'magic' worlds fastest growing sorghum so I bought some seeds to see if it does grow that fast.

Even though this was a bad season for sorghum I did expect that the 5 plants that did grow would have performed better than my others. This is what it looks like today, barely growing, tiny and sick, while the others are putting out seed heads.


 In the same block as the
'Worlds fastest sorghum' is the 6 plants of my broom sorghum that managed to grow.
You can see the long heads that turn into a straw-like head when you strip it so you can make brooms from them. There are instruction on the net for making them into brooms.

I find these fun to grow and luckily I still have some seeds from last year so I can grow them again this coming spring. They are also great for ornamental purposes.



You can see from the third picture of this sorghum that the parrots have already started stripping the seed of them so I have put some mesh over the stalks today.
At least last year they waited till the seed was ripe before starting. Damn parrots.





















These next two pictures are of the only variety that germinated properly this season. This is 'Honey Drip', a sorghum used for sweet syrup. This is the first year I have grown it. I usually grow African white instead.

I don't have the equipment to crush the stems to squeeze the sap out so I grow sweet sorghums for seed/grain. African white is great for this use but this variety (Sugar drip) does not seem to have big seed heads so I will have to wait and see if the grains are a good size and whether it will be worth growing again.

When the grains are still soft but maturing it is time to harvest the stems for the sap. I often chew on the sweet stems while I am out in the blocks. Remember to peel them first.

It looks like I will have to cover the bed to stop the parrots from eating all the seeds.
This is a heavy tillering variety which is why the bed looks so crowded.




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