Oats are an exceptional medicinal and nutritive herb that herbalist employ to calm frayed nerves and debilitated conditions. It is also an easy herb to grow, forage and harvest for a great supply of medicine and yummy foods like cookies, cakes, and porridge!
For more information of the medicinal uses of oats, check out this post.
Oats are an annual crop excellent choice for the permaculture garden. It prevent soil erosion making it an excellent cover crop. It is also a bio-accumulator of calcium, simultaneously feeding and sweetening (increasing soil pH) during the decomposition process. This crop is also very easy to grow – even for the “brown thumbed” gardener!
Oats can be sown in spring (I have also sown seed in early fall for “green manure” cover crop). Sow seeds in a freshly raked, prepared bed, in full sun with well drained soils. Dress seeds with compost to increase vitality. Keep soil evenly moist during germination and water frequently during the growing stage. Seeds are fully mature in 45-60 depending on variety and weather conditions, with the milky stage being a narrow window before when the seeds tops are still green and fleshy.
Oats tend to reseed readily and often appear along roadsides, hedges and field perimeters near where it was used as a crop. Forage this crop well away from roadsides and avoid areas with possible herbicide and pesticide exposure.
Seed heads form a loose panicle atop a hollow stem with leaves forming a loosely formed rosette at the soil line. Depending on variety, seed sheaths may be overlapping with a split at the end of the seed, or more rounded.
Green, immature milky oats are ready to harvest when they exude a milky sap when pressed firmly between the fingers. It is at this stage that it has the constituent profile favors nervine and tropho-restorative actions. This a narrow window so revisits your oat path often during the growing season. For more information on preparing tincture, see this post. The milky seeds can be harvesting by running your fingers up both sides of the stem, pulling off the seeds as you go. Oatstraw can be harvested after immature oat tops are collected., by cutting the stem close to the ground. Oatstraw should be into half inch segments and dried thoroughly for teas and infusions. Oats are mature when the stalk and seeds are gold and dry. When harvesting mature seed by hand, this is most efficiently done by s process called threshing. During threshing, a handful of oat stalks are beaten back and forth into a large container, such as an immaculately clean garbage can. The dropped seeds can then be cured until the chaff is dried. The chaff can then be removed by winnowing – a process during which where the seeds and chaff vigorously rubbed or stomped upon, then are dropped slowly in front of a fall to blow away the lighter chaff and retain the seed.
Check out these oat-y posts from me and some of my favorite bloggers!
Oats, Milky Oats & Oatstraw: Medicinal Uses & Therapeutic Actions from (me) Nitty Gritty Life
Oats & Honey Granola from Reformation Acres
Honey, Oats & Beeswax Soap from Lovely Greens
Maple Pumpkin Muffins from Homespun Season Living
DIY Bath Bombs from Joybilee Farms
Sprouting Grain Fodder from Attainable Sustainable