Harvesting Oats at La Placita Gardens

Yarrow Nestled Among the Wild Blanket Flower

We have been lucky to harvest many wild growing herbs (violets, dandelions, plantain, yarrow… ) on our land this spring, but I was especially excited to harvest our first cultivated crop of oats at La Placita Gardens, the new community garden located at the historic Sanchez Farm where we have a plot for Sunstone Herbs. We seeded the oats back in March when the soil still held moisture from the winter snows and rains. They grew wonderfully without irrigation, thanks to a few timely rains and a few accidental flood irrigations from the acequia. We harvested the oats in the milky stage (that is when the oat seed has formed but has not hardened off, and when you press the seed it exudes a milky substance), taking the tops and the “straw.”

The oats were vibrantly green and beautiful with no issues of too much rain interfering with the harvest as often happened in New York where it always seemed to pour the day the oats were ripe for picking.

Oats Harvested from La Placita Gardens

Oats Harvested from Our Plot at Placita Gardens

We made a pretty green tincture of the milky oats, and dried the remaining oats and oat straw for tea. Unfortunately this year we will not have any of this dried oat straw for sale as we grew a smaller trial plot to understand how the oats would grow here. Well they grow beautifully, so you can be sure that next year we will plant a large area to oats to make this nourishing herb available to you. – Jen

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6 Responses to Harvesting Oats at La Placita Gardens

  1. Pingback: Recipe for Nettle and Oat Straw Infusion « Sunstone Herb Farm

  2. Pingback: Nettle and Oat Straw Infusion - Organic Grocery Deals

  3. Stephanie says:

    Oat tops combined with a few other herbs is great for stress relief. Beneficial as a tea or a foot soak.

    2 tsp green milky oat tops
    2 tsp chamomile
    2 tsp lemon balm
    1 tsp lavender
    1 tsp rose petals
    1 tsp chrysanthemum

    Pour 1 quart boiling water over herbs. Cover and steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with stevia or a touch of honey if desired.

  4. Ooh, that sounds great. I am going to try it as a foot soak. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Stephanie! -Tree

  5. Kat says:

    I have some oats growing on my small farm that were planted as a cover crop. I would also like to harvest some for tea. Winter is quickly approaching and they will soon winter kill. The oats have not made seed heads yet but have vibrant green leaves and stems. Can I use this part of the oat plant dried for tea and still receive the health benefits proclaimed for harvesting it in its “milky stage”? Any info on this would be helpful. Thanks.

  6. Hi Kat,
    If you are in a cold weather climate like we are, then I would advise you to harvest the oats for use as oatstraw. They will likely not head up before a freeze. Oatstraw is a delicious, nutritious form of the herb to use as well, but it does have a different qualities than the milky oats. I see the straw as an excellent nutritive tonic, especially for the skin, but they do not have the deeply tonic qualities for the nervous system as do the milky oats.

    Note though that if you are harvesting the straw for your own use, the oats are no longer a cover crop. Oats take a lot from the soil, and if you “extract” those nutrients for your use, then you are no longer adding the biomass back to the soil as a mulch/cover crop. So you’ll want to add compost or whatever amendments you use to that plot so that your next crop will thrive.

    Hope this helps. Jen

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