Rice is one of the oldest and most revered foods on the planet. In Japan and Indonesia, for instance, rice has its own God. Rice requires tons of water plus hot, sunny conditions to grow to fruition. This makes planting rice impossible in some areas, but you can grow your own rice at home, sort of.
Can You Grow Your Own Rice?
While I say “sort of,” growing rice at home is definitely possible, but unless you have a large rice paddy outside your back door, it is unlikely you will be harvesting much. It is still a fun project. Growing rice at home takes place in a container, so only a small space is needed, unless you decide to flood the backyard. Read on to find out how to grow rice at home.
How to Grow Rice
Planting rice is easy; getting it to grow through harvest is challenging. Ideally, you need at least 40 continuous days of warm temps over 70 F. (21 C.). Those of you who live in the South or in California will have the best luck, but the rest of us can also try our hand at growing rice indoors, under lights if necessary. First, you need to find one or several plastic containers without holes. One or several depends upon how many miniature pseudo rice paddies you want to create. Next, either purchase rice seed from a gardening supplier or buy long grain brown rice from a bulk foods store or in a bag. Organically grown rice is best and it can’t be white rice, which has been processed. Fill the bucket or plastic container with 6 inches (15 cm.) of dirt or potting soil. Add water up to 2 inches (5 cm.) over the soil level. Add a handful of the long grain rice to the bucket. The rice will sink to the dirt. Keep the bucket in a warm, sunny area and move it to a warm place at night.
Care of Rice Plants
Rice plants don’t need too much care from here on out. Keep the water level at 2 inches (5 cm.) or so above the dirt. When the rice plants are 5-6 inches (12.5-15 cm.) tall, increase the water depth to 4 inches (10 cm.). Then, allow the water level to lower on its own over a period of time. Ideally, by the time you harvest them, the plants should no longer be in standing water. If all goes well, rice is ready to harvest in its fourth month. The stalks will go from green to gold to indicate it is time to harvest. Harvesting rice means cutting and gathering the panicles attached to the stalks. To harvest the rice, cut the stalks and allow them to dry, wrapped in a newspaper, for two to three weeks in a warm, dry place. Once the rice stalks have dried, roast in a very low heat oven (under 200 F./93 C.) for around an hour, then remove the hulls by hand. That’s it; you can now cook with your very own home grown, long grain brown rice.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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