When we came to Portugal to attempt to be self sufficient, we knew that ultimately you want to be able to grow your own animal feeds as well as food for your family.
The food for the family bit was easy, I’ve done that for years and kind of know what I’m doing. Although a bit more water would be handy!!!
There will always be failures when growing food , it’s part of the whole thing, but hopefully where you fail you succeed in other areas.
As we are growing our own meat now and wanting to rear it in the best possible way we have decided to try and grow our own animal feeds. It seems to be impossible to buy complete animal feeds here without Genetically Modified maize and soya in them, because of this we have been buying three cereals separately for the pigs; wheat, barley and maize (the white stuff which they tell me is not GM), we feed these grains along with endless peelings from the ladies of the village and various scraps. We have the grains ground up by a friend in the village, who has an old stone mill.
Quite determined to grow more for the animals, to cut down on expense and to be able to control what they eat we decided to grow some maize (milho). I sourced a hybrid F1 which is fine(ish), at least it’s not GM, we planted what we thought was a lot. We got told off about how we’d planted it (this is normal procedure). We watered the living hell out if, I weeded it; back-breaking. We ran out of water, we left it, we de-leafed it and then picked it. We pretty much copied the locals.
Picking the mal-formed and patheic cobs was heart wrenching. I bit my bottom lip alot and awaited the humilation at the de-hulling machine. It didn’t come, thank god. They, I keep reassuring myself have been growing this stuff for centuries, for me it was a first, I am not spraying anything, they are. We estimate we got about 40kg. We need about 800kg!!!!! that’s not to mention the wheat and barley………..
The soya, on the other hand has been spectacular (thanks Andy). I was given about 20 black soya bean seeds which I planted. They have been brilliant and I have harvested 700 grams, which is a hell of a lot of seed. I will plant all these seeds next year and hopefully have such a massive soya harvest it won’t matter if I don’t have 800kg of maize.
That is the point I was trying to make, the stuff you think is going to be a doddle ends up being a complete failure and then some funky heirloom plant produces so much without any attention at all….genius. II think that you can apply this rule to almost everything in life.