Rice comes in long-grain, medium- and short-grain textures.
It grows easily in your backyard, in a garden bed or in buckets, given the
right amount of soil, water, and other nutrients. Short-grain, medium-grain and
long-grain rice thrive in wet conditions, specifically standing puddles of
water or swamp-like conditions. Once the rice grains develop, the water in
which they grow must drain so that you can harvest and mill the crop. After the
harvesting and milling processes, you can eat the rice.
A. Planting Your Rice
Purchase rice seeds
from any gardening or farmers supply store. You may also buy rice seeds from a
reputable supply store or seek help from the local agriculture field officer.
There are 5 basic types of rice to choose from:
a. Long-grain. This type of rice produces grains that are light
and fluffy. It tends to be a bit drier than other varieties.
b. Medium-grain. This type is moist, tender, slightly sticky,
and a little creamy when cooked. It has the same texture as long-grain.
c. Short-grain. When cooked, short-grain rice becomes soft and
sticky. It's also a little more sweet – this is the rice to use with sushi.
d. Sweet. This rice is sometimes called sticky rice, and is
gooey when cooked. It’s often used for frozen products.
e. Aromatic. This type of rice has more flavor and fragrance
than other varieties. This category includes Basmati, Jasmine, Red, and Black
japonica Arborio. This type becomes creamy with a chewy center after cooking.
It’s used primarily for risotto and other Italian dishes.
Choose your planting
location. Make sure the soil in the area you're planting consists of slightly
acidic clay for the best results. You may also plant your rice seeds in plastic
buckets with the same type of soil. Wherever you plant, make sure you have a
reliable water source and a way to drain that water when you need to harvest.
Pick a location that
receives full sunlight, as rice grows best with bright light and warm
temperatures of at least 70° Fahrenheit (approximately 21° Celsius).
4. Consider the season –
your area needs to allow for 3 to 6 months of plant and flower growth. Rice
needs a long, warm growing season, so a climate like the southern United States
is best. If you don't have long periods of warmth, it may be best growing your
Gather at least 1 to 2
ounces (28.5 to 56.5 g) of rice seeds to sow. Soak the seeds in water to prep
them for planting. Allow them to soak for at least 12 hours but not longer than
36 hours. Remove the seeds from the water afterward. While your seeds are soaking,
plan out where and how you want to plant them. Most prefer to plant the seeds
in rows to make it easier to water and weed. Consider building trenches and
blocking the ends so the water stays contained and dammed (berms can be used as
well). That being said, the area doesn't need to stay flooded perse, it just
needs to stay wet.
Plant the rice seeds
throughout the soil, during the fall or spring season. Get rid of the weeds,
till the beds, and level the soil. If you are using buckets, fill them with at
least 6 inches (15 cm) of moist soil. Then add the rice seeds.
Keep in mind that the
area needs to be flooded with water. It's much easier to flood a few smaller
spaces than one larger one. If you're planting outside, using several seed beds
will be easier to manage and maintain.
If you plant in the
fall, be sure to due-weed come spring. The rice seeds need all the nutrients and
space they can get.
Caring for Your
Fill the buckets
or the garden space with at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) of water.However, this is
just an old school recommendation. Plenty of people say that keeping the soil
consistently moist is plenty – it doesn't necessarily need to be flooded. This
stage is up to you – just make sure it's wet.
Add compost or mulch to
the soil, slightly covering the rice grains. This will automatically tamp the
seeds down into the soil. Organic compost holds moisture, so this is a good
plan – especially in drier climes.
Observe the water
levels of the planting area, keeping the soil constantly wet. If you'd like,
maintain 2 inches (5.1 cm) of water for the rice to grow. At least make sure
the soil is consistently wet, if not flooded. Expect to see shoots from the
grains grow after about 1 week.
If your plants are in
buckets, you may want to consider moving them at night (when it gets cooler) to
a warmer spot. Rice thrive in warmth, and if the temperature dips, you'll
likely see stunted growth.
To emphasize that
flooding policies differentiate from person to person, commercial
rice-producing agencies sometimes flood up to eight inches. You may wish to up
the water as your plants climb to the 7 inch mark. What you practice is up to
Thin, or space out, the
rice seeds to prevent crowding. For best results, thin out the seedlings no
more than 4 inches (10.2 cm) apart in rows that range between 9 to 12 inches
(22.9 to 30.5 cm) apart. Allow the seeds to grow up to 7 inches (17.8 cm) tall,
which takes on average of about one month.
Some people choose to
start their plants off in a nursery bed since movement is always a part of the
process anyway. If you follow this practice, transplant them when they reach
5-7 inches in height. They should be planted about a foot apart into a muddy
Wait for the rice
grains to mature. This will take approximately 3 or 4 months; during this time,
they can reach up to 17 inches tall. Let the water dry out or drain any excess
water before removing the rice for harvesting. Over the course of the next two
weeks, they'll turn green to gold – that's when you know they're ready.
If you're farming your
rice, you may wish to drain the soil when the plants are about 15 inches (37.5
cm) tall, flood, and then drain again. After that, continue as above, allowing
the rice to dry and turn golden.
Cooking Your Rice
Cut the stalks and let
them dry. When the rice has turned gold (about 2 weeks or so after draining),
they're ready. Cut the stalks just under the heads, where the rice grains are
placed. You'll see little pockets at the top of the stalk that are unmistakably
the hulls of the rice.
Let them dry for 2-3 weeks. With the stalks cut, wrap them in
newspaper and keep them in a dry, sunny place for 2-3 weeks. The moisture needs
to fully dry out for you to get at the grains cleanly.
Bake them at 180°F
(82°C) for an hour. Take the heads and pop 'em in the oven for roasting. It
shouldn't be too hot or the grains will burn. During this time, they should
turn a darker shade of golden brown.
Separate the kernels
from the hulls. After that time is up, let them cool. Then rub them with your
hands (or use a mortar and pestle) to separate the kernels from the hulls. Now
you're dealing with rice grains you'll actually recognize. This will leave you
with grains of rice that are ready for cooking and consumption.
For the record, this last bit can be quite tedious – after a
handful or two, you'll be glad for modern technology. Be patient – you're doing
it right, it just takes a while. When you're done, you'll be left with an
amazing store of food you produced all by yourself.