Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum
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Seed packs are four grams unless noted.
Buckwheat is often counted as grain, though unlike most grains they are not true grasses. Buckwheat is thus not related to true wheat. Buckwheat is a fast-growing, warm-season, succulent, broad-leaved annual attaining a height of 2 to 4 feet. It has one main stem with several smaller branches. Leaf shape is roughly triangular, and flowers are white, pink, or red. Seeds are of two types, depending on the variety: large and dark-colored with triangular-shaped sides, or smaller and gray-colored, with a rounder shape.
FOOD: Most buckwheat is ground into flour and used for a variety of foods, including noodles in Japan and pancakes/breakfast cereals in the U.S. England, Russia and eastern Europeans make a wide range of other foods with buckwheat.
IMPROVE SOIL: Buckwheat has also been used widely as a cover crop to smother weeds and improve the soil. The crop seems to improve soil tilth, and is reported to make phosphorous more available as a soil nutrient, through root-associated mycorrhizae.
HONEY CROP: Buckwheat flowers profusely, making it popular with bee keepers and an attractive crop in the landscape. Reports are that it is not uncommon for a strong colony to glean 10 pounds of honey per day while foraging buckwheat; with one acre (.41 ha) of buckwheat producing up to 150 lb. (65 kg) of honey per growing season. . Buckwheat may fill a special need for the beekeeper since the honey flow comes late in the season when other nectar is scarce. Thus, it may be possible to obtain a crop of buckwheat honey in an area where an earlier flow has been harvested from other sources. The variety Tokyo is reported to produce a lighter colored honey than most buckwheats. Makes a yummy dark honey.
DYE: Brown dye can be made from flowers.
SMOTHER CROP: Buckwheat is a good competitor because it germinates rapidly, and the dense leaf canopy soon shades the soil. This rapid growth soon smothers most weeds.
LIVESTOCK FEED: In the past, buckwheat was often fed to livestock, especially hogs, and it is occasionally still used for livestock. Buckwheat has roughly the feed value of oats when fed to livestock. Buckwheat should be mixed with other grains when fed to livestock; this is especially true for light-skinned hogs, which can develop a rash or other complications after eating large amounts of buckwheat. Dehulled buckwheat may be less likely to cause this reaction.
Making buckwheat pancakes
The buckwheat in photo #1 is still hulled, it must be roasted and dehulled. Picture #2 shows dehulled roasted buckwheat. Picture #3 shows grinding with a stone hand grinder. #4 is of course the final and delicious product. Fresh buckwheat pancakes!!!