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.
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.
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.
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.
When people imagine rice growing, they generally envision acres of water-drenched rice patties and don’t imagine it’s possible to grow this staple crop in their own home. However, it’s possible to recreate this growing environment in your back yard, porch or on your kitchen table with an inexpensive, readily available tool --a plastic bucket. Create an ideal environment to grow smaller amounts of this staple crop that is higher in fiber while remaining low-fat.
Soak one package of rice seeds in a bowl filled with plain water for at least 12 hours before planting.
Fill the bottom of a plastic bucket with 4 to 6 inches of all-purpose potting soil. Pour a 4- to 6-inch layer of plain water over the soil. Remove the rice seeds from the soaking bowl and drop them into the bucket. The seeds' weight will cause them to sink to the bottom.
Place the bucket in an area that receives full sun throughout the day. If keeping the bucket outdoors, move it inside during cooler nights. Rice grows best in soil and air temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Monitor the water levels diligently, paying attention to not allow the water to fall below 2 inches during this early growing phase. Once the stalks reach 5 to 6 inches in height, provide a final, 4-inch layer of water to the bucket.
Allow the water to dissipate slowly during this final growth period. Continue to let the rice ripen until the water absorbs or evaporates, or the stalks' color changes from green to gold, which generally takes around two weeks.
Harvest the rice by cutting the stalk directly beneath the heads. Wrap the stalks in newspaper and allow them to dry in a sunny area for two to three weeks.
Roast the rice stalks in an oven set to 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately one hour. Allow the rice stalks to cool completely before gently rubbing the heads to release the rice kernels. Rinse the kernels and cook or store.
Some vegetables are simply more trouble to grow than they’re worth, whether it’s because of pests, disease, low yield, temperament, or growing space needed. So don’t bother growing these vegetables, unless you like a challenge. Some veggies are so cheap to buy, we normally don’t bother growing them (we’re looking at you, potatoes and onions)—but if you want to, here’s how to grow potatoes, and how to grow onions too.
When it comes to the plants that are worth growing yourself, these are our favorite contenders, for the money they save us and the superior taste they provide. So clear up a little plot of soil in your yard or drag out some pots and trellises for your patio, porch, balcony, or windowsill. See our 5 tips for beginning gardeners, and then decide what you want to sow. And if you’d like even more expert advice, check out our Q&A with Ron Finley, who has a gardening MasterClass available online now.
It’s easier than you think to have a flourishing vegetable garden. All it takes is a bit of nurturing and proper preparation to see it grow. Even though carrots are a low-maintenance crop, it’s still important to make sure they have the right growing conditions for proper germination and more. Here are a few areas you’ll want to focus on to see the highest return on your efforts.
A thriving garden starts with a solid foundation, and high-quality soil is vital. Start by having your soil tested. You want the pH just right — between six and seven should do the trick.
Unlike some fruits and vegetables, carrots are forgiving and adapt well to different soils. However, they grow best in a lighter, sandy soil. A loose soil doesn’t present the same challenges as rocky and heavier clay soils do. Poor drainage and compacted soil can harm carrot roots.
Give your garden soil a boost with organic potting mix before you start planting. Regular gardening soil relies on just a few ingredients to nourish your plants — like vermiculite, peat moss, or composted tree bark — but these really aren’t enough for a healthy garden.
Keep your eyes open for soil with nutrient-rich ingredients such as kelp meal, bat guano, coconut coir, beneficial bacteria, and more.
Psst: Back to the Roots is launching an organic potting mix in Spring ’21. Look for it at your local Walmart Garden Center!
Carrots are cool weather crops, so you’ll want to get them started in early spring, depending on where you live. A good rule of thumb is to plant your carrots when the soil temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (they’ll germinate between 55 and 75 degrees). You might be able to plant them in the early fall as long as there isn’t a hard freeze.
Because carrots have a fragile root system, you’ll want to skip transplanting altogether and start with carrot seeds. But here’s the thing: carrot seeds can be challenging to handle and plant properly. Seed tape or pellets containing carrot seeds make the planting process a whole lot easier.
Spacing is important and can save you from thinning — i.e., pulling up extra seeds once they start growing — later on. Sow seeds two to four inches apart to give them ample room to grow.
Your carrots will thrive in full sun, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding where you’d like to plant your seeds. Some carrots do well in containers, making it easy to move them around if you need to.
Another option is to try a raised bed. Back to the Roots Fabric Raised Garden Bed is perfect for growing carrots in your vegetable garden. The durable fabric stands up to multiple growing seasons, allows your plants’ roots to get more oxygen, and improves drainage.
Keep your soil moist for happy carrots, as dry conditions may affect their shape, color, and flavor. Anything less than an inch of rain a week means you’ll have to water regularly or set up an irrigation system to keep them amply hydrated.
Psst: Protect your carrots from freezing temperatures with a row cover. They can help keep soil temperatures where you need them and insulate your plants from the cold. You can DIY your own row covers with plastic bags in a pinch.
Getting rid of weeds in any garden is essential, but even more so when you’re learning how to grow carrots. You’ll want to avoid using weed killer as it can damage your plants. Try using mulch instead, but be sure to let your plants get established before spreading anything around them or you could impede germination.
Pests are a common issue as well. Leafhoppers, carrot weevils, nematodes, and the carrot rust fly can all cause damage to your vegetables and spread disease. The good news is that you can do a lot to mitigate their effect in your garden.
Stay on top of weeding, rotate your crops and use traps when appropriate. Insecticidal soaps are a good option here to manage pests without depositing more chemicals into the environment. Carrot flowers attract an array of helpful insects that can help too, such as ladybugs, mealybug destroyers, minute pirate bugs (argh, matey!), and more.
Psst: Consider hybrid varieties of carrots instead of heirloom types when you’re shopping for seeds. Hybrid seeds are often bred to be more resistant to certain diseases or pests and can make maintaining your garden a little easier. Check out Back to the Root’s Organic Veggie Variety Pack for the perfect mix of 100% organic and USA grown seeds.
Depending on which variety of carrots you plant, they’ll generally be ready for harvest in two to three months. Sometimes you’ll see their brightly colored tops peeking through the soil, which is another clue they’re ready for picking.
If you have one, root cellars are the best place to store your harvested carrots, but your refrigerator will work too. Snip the carrot tops before storing them, but don’t throw them in the trash. Save them for your compost pile, or experiment with them in the kitchen. Carrot tops can be used to make a lovely pesto, for salad toppings, and as a flavoring in stocks. Don’t forget you can pickle and can your carrots too!
Binomial Name: Oryza Sativa
Varieties: Japanese Rice (Koshihikari), Brown Rice
Rice, most believe, is one of the oldest foods on the dinner table. Archaeologists can trace it back to about 5000 BC and historians note that it was mentioned in relation to China, where they held annual rice ceremonies, as early as about 2300 BC. They believe that the plant was also native to India and Thailand. Rice came to the West via explorers, soldiers, and traders. It thrived in many climates but not so well in others. Because the plant requires much rainfall shortly after it’s planted in the ground, followed by plenty of hot, sunny weather, some countries – like England - are just not cut out for rice growing. The American South – growing started in the Carolinas, though Arkansas is currently the largest producer - has had much success with cultivating rice as have European countries where the climate is ideal, like parts of Italy and Spain.
Many cultures continue to hold rice in high regard. In Japan and Indonesia, it has its own God. The Chinese devote a whole day of their New Year celebration to the crop. In some Asian cultures, it’s considered a link between Heaven and Earth. India believes rice is important to fertility, and its link to such resulted in the long-standing tradition of throwing rice at a wedding.
Growing grains is easy and fun! Buy heirloom grain seeds here and start today! See our complete grain growing guide here. Did you know that most grains can be sprouted for high-nutrient super-foods? Try our sprouts packs here with the 3-Day Independence Sprouts Pack. Getting cabin fever? Can't wait to get to that Spring gardening? Grow indoors right now with the Complete Micro Greens Growing Kit or the Micro Greens Seed Pack. Have a high nutrient vegetable garden on your windowsill this week!
Growing Rice in a Container Garden Rice is an unusual and fun plant to grow in your garden or on your porch. The secret to growing rice is that you have to recreate the flooded rice paddy for the rice to thrive in.
Collect all of your clean plastic buckets and empty plastic laundry soap buckets to work in. You do not want to use any container that has holes in the bottom that would let the water out.
Buy some long-grain brown rice from the bulk bins at the grocery store or in a bag. Organically grown rice will reproduce better than some long-grain brown rice, but most kinds seem to have some grains that sprout. Your goal is to find brown long-grain rice that is as close to untouched by machines and chemicals as possible. White rice will not work because it has been processed. Or, you can buy a package of your favorite rice seed from a gardening supply outfit.
Fill your buckets with about 6" of dirt or potting soil. Add water until it is about 2" above the soil level and toss a small handful of your store bought long-grain rice into the bucket they will sink so that they are lying on top of the dirt under the water.
Rice likes a warm climate, keep your bucket in a sunny area and move it if necessary to a warm place at night. Keep your water level at about 2 inches above the dirt until the rice is growing strong.
When your plants are up to about 5-6 inches, increase your water level to about 4 inches deep. After that, let the water level lower in the bucket slowly over a period of time. You will want the plants just about dry of standing water by the time you are ready to harvest.
Rice is mature somewhere in its fourth month if conditions are right. The stalks will change from green to gold in color when they are ready. To harvest, cut your stalks and let them dry in a warm place, wrapped in a newspaper for 2-3 weeks.
Roast your rice in a very low heat (under 200) for about an hour, and then remove the hulls by hand. You are now ready to cook with your own long-grain brown rice.
Heirloom seeds are the gardeners choice for seed-saving from year-to-year. Learning to save seeds is easy and fun with these books. Before you harvest, consider which varieties you might want to save seeds from so that your harvesting practice includes plants chosen for seed saving. Be sure to check out our newest seed packs, available now from Heirloom Organics. The Super Food Garden is the most nutrient dense garden you can build and everything you need is right here in one pack. The Genesis Garden s a very popular Bible Garden collection. The Three Sisters Garden was the first example of companion planting in Native American culture. See all of our brand-new seed pack offerings in our store.
Though it may seem like an odd time of year to read about growing rice it’s actually a really good time to start planning for next season. Rice is a long season crop and preparation this fall can really benefit your rice harvest.
There’s also a few misconceptions about growing rice that make it less popular than it perhaps should be.
The first is that rice requires flooding. Flooding is actually just a method of weed control. Rice does well in water while other plants like weeds do not. However it can be grown with just and inch of irrigation or rain per week. However if you happen to have a wet area on your property you’d like to put into production rice could be your answer.
The second misconception is that rice can only be grown in really warm areas. In fact there are varieties of rice that can be grown as far north as Vermont. SESE has varieties that are best suited to the south and mid-atlantic regions.
Lastly rice is often seen as a crop for big farmers and not necessarily backyard gardeners but you don’t need big fields or machinery to get a nice rice crop. It’s perfectly easy to grow and cultivate with hand tools. The only special equipment you need is a rice de-huller and you can find a variety of home scale models available.
Selecting & Preparing a Plot
Whether you choose to flood your rice or just irrigate it, water is probably the biggest concern when choosing a plot. Make sure it’s an area you can easy water because of its irrigation needs.
Rice also does best in fertile, nitrogen-rich soil. Compost is the perfect fertilizer for rice so if you select a plot this fall you can add about 1lb per square foot of compost and till it in. You can also grow a winter-kill cover crop like buckwheat this fall. In the spring the dead buckwheat will act as a mulch and you can plant your rice through it. The mulch will help hold moisture and prevent weeds.
Rice can be planted two ways either direct sown or transplanted. For transplants seeds should be started 6-8 weeks before your desired planting date.
Direct seed or transplant rice in rows 9-12 inches apart with plants about 6 inches apart in the row. Rice isn’t always grown in rows however this method has been shown to increase yields as the rice has plenty of space and nutrients and can be easily cultivated.
Rice doesn’t do well with weed pressure so be sure to keep it well weeded. Small plantings of rice typically aren’t bothered by pests or disease although birds will feed on rice as it ripens so you may choose to use netting.
The rice should be harvested once it’s dry and brown. There are two methods for harvesting. You can cut the entire plant as close to the ground as possible or cut just the seed head. Whatever you choose it should be noted that leaving the straw on the field will add nutrients and keep your soil healthy for next year.
Once harvested, rice should be threshed and winnowed. There are machines made specifically for threshing but basically you’re just trying to break other plant material free from the grains of rice. A common method is to place the rice in a 5-gallon bucket and use a drill with a paint stirring attachment to break it up.
After threshing the rice should be winnowed. This process can be done in front of a fan by pouring the rice into a bowl and allowing the fan to blow away the lighter plant material while the grains fall straight down into the bowl. This will need to be repeated several times before all the material is gone.
Unlike wheat, rice also has to be de-hulled as it probably won’t come off during the threshing process. Rice can be de-hulled by rubbing it between your hands but it’s a strenuous and uncomfortable process. If you enjoy growing rice it’s probably worth investing in a home de-huller.
Finally you can enjoy your rice! Just like other crops growing your own can allow you to branch out into more varieties and tastes than the one or two offered at the grocery store.