Oats so long ago | Incredible Edible Todmorden | Blogs

Oats so long ago

Last update: 23.07.12 First posted: 21.04.12 by in

Porridge experiment underway!

We have sown oats along the length of the health centre white wall,
we are experimenting with different ways to grow them.

So Mark and Beth have sown with ‘seed bombs’ which they made from seeds and clay

we hope this will discourage birds squirrels and dogs.

Some they have simply scattered on the ground.

Some they have sown under nets.

So far the only things that seem to be growing are the netted ones, so with think the cheeky birds must have eaten the rest. Take a look under the net to see the shoots.
Porridge lesson number one: sow under nets!
We’ll sow some more this way and see how we get on.
The oat bombs didn’t work because, we think it was because the clay didn’t breakdown, it just dried with the oats still clinging on.
Possibly the addition of some fibrous none peat compost to the mix might make a difference.

Why oats you ask?

Well dear reader throughout Todmorden’s farming history, oats have been the most important crop, grown to feed both people and animals alike.
There are records of oat-growing in Todmorden since the 1300s, though farmers also kept cattle and sheep. The wooded valleys were used as hunting-grounds by predatory wolves, so it was too expensive for farmers to live on meat and dairy produce alone – they had to supplement their diet with grains.
Because they will grow in damper and darker conditions than other grains, oats were very popular in rain-soaked Todmorden. The steep valley sides were covered with trees until the 1800s, but even so, the marshy fields of the valley bottom were used to grow oats (and some barley). In medieval times, crops were probably grown in unfenced strips or ‘flatts’, each tended by individual farmers who lived on the same strip of land.
In fact, our “barren and unfruitful hills” were so famously difficult to farm that it was thought that the production of any foodstuff at all must be due to the “moral virtues” of Todmorden people.
By the late 1800s, cheap grain imports from north America meant that arable farming went into decline.

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