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Cultivating Rice in an Organic Garden

Hi, My name is Wayne and I am an ignoramus! I have grown organic rice. If I can do it, anyone can. You may say that it's as simple as growing grass. In fact, rice is a type of grass. Very good grass!

The Grass family goes by the scientific name "Gramineae" or "Poaceae". I have no idea why the botanists of the world can't agree on a single term. Maybe they sit by the fire, late at night, puffing big Calabash pipes in deep debate.

"No, Sir Geoffrey! 'Gramineae' will never do. It just isn't civil !"

"I beg to differ, old chum. It was good enough for Professor Smithley and it's good enough for me."

Just about every location on Earth is host to several species of grass. In all, there are well over 7,000 distinct species. The Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia says "Grasses were intimately involved in the evolution of domestic animals and very likely of humans also".

I guess so! Some anthropologists think that early hominids evolved to stand upright, in order to see over the surrounding miles of grassland. That our distant ancestors lived in a huge field of grass and ate the seeds.

Of the many species, only a handful have been domesticated. They are barley, corn (maize), millet, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, wheat, sugarcane, bamboo forage, hay, pasture grasses, lawn and ornamental grasses.

All of these, including the humble lawn grass, are the product of careful selection and cultivation, over thousands of generations. As humankind has shaped their quality and their appearance, the grasses have shaped our civilizations, values, our bodies and minds. They are certainly our most important plants. And to me, the grains we eat are our most valuable natural resource.

Unfortunately, the bio-chemical industry is attempting to undo the work of our ancestors, in a single generation. Apparently, they feel they have the knowledge and the right to splice soil dwelling bacteria and poison resistant genes into our primary food supply. As if their university training had offered courses like Wisdom of the Ages- 101, instead of the more likely Applied Economics.

Severe damage has already been done. Especially, in the case of corn (maize). By 2001, over 30% of the U.S. commercial corn crop had been genetically altered to create a poison that kills butterflies and moths. Now, they are going after our wheat and rice.

You probably won't make a profit. You certainly won't feed the world. But, there are many good reasons for growing natural rice in your organic garden. It raises our awareness of the value of whole grains. The plants are beautiful. It is interesting. It is fun. And, speaking "gardener to gardener", you've gotta try this!