Glory's Garden

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Winnowing




Heading into the home stretch, April's A-Z Blogging challenge is on W and W is for Winnowing. Do you know what winnowing is? It's likely you at least will have heard of it.









Winnowing is an ancient practice using the wind to separate the seed or grain from the extra material which is not needed. How it works is that the seed is usually heavier than the shaft so the wind carries away the useless material and (hopefully) leaves the good stuff behind. It wasn't a perfect way to have super clean grain, but when you didn't have a machine to do it, winnowing worked in a pinch. Yes, you may have gotten a bit of extra stuff with that bowl of rice or in your oatmeal, but that just meant you got extra fiber!



Winnowing can be used for flower seeds, too. I do it all the time with Morning Glory seeds. I usually collect Morning Glory seeds quickly and toss everything, the seeds with their papery husks, into a collecting container.  I don't actually use the wind though. The wind around here can be rather strong. I've found my unattended seeds spelled all over the yard. I often just gently blow on a bowl of seeds until the husks get blown away and the seeds are relatively clean.



Foxglove seeds gone with the wind


 Winnowing does not work with all seeds. For instance, you don't want to try this with foxglove seeds which are of a fine quality, barely heavier than air. You see, the wind would take the seeds away and leave you the empty seed pods. Not so good, but then it's not so bad either... if you like to be surprised the following year with Foxgloves all over the place.







Sweet Williams seeds are slightly heavier and could endure a gentle blow from your breath to remove any plant debris. But usually there is no need with these. The seeds can be shaken right out of the seed pods with little debris spoiling the seeds. Gotta love a clean seed producer!





Now that you know about winnowing--when to use it, when not-- you'll find seed collecting and saving much easier. At least I hope so!

6 comments:

  1. hi Glory, great post! Most people have no idea what winnowing is, it's a very old process.
    I actually did some winnowing with some home-grown wheat a couple of years ago, it's amazing how effective it is cleaning. I used a fan to generate just the right amount of wind. ":)

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  2. Actually, I've done this a lot...never knew there was a specific term for it, and a good one too. I shall now boldly state that I'm going out to the garden to do my winnowing in the future. Won't my family be surprised to think I've learned a new skill? We won't tell them that I've only expanded my vocabulary, thanks to a visit with Glory's Garden:)

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  3. Such lovely flowers. Never thought about winnowing connected with flower seeds--now I know!

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  4. Good one Glory.
    This ancient practice is still common, although today we move the air with blowers and fans.

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  5. It's been a long time since I heard this agricultural term. Thanks and best wishes on the rest of your A to Z!

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  6. I've learned a new word!

    I have always wondered why nowadays they strip everything from the grain, I think we all could use a little extra of that fiber and the extra stuff would not hurt our bodies.

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