Jacqueline Windh

Canadian rice-growing, a technical success


Well, as I prepare to relaunch my blog in two days, I figured I’d better update you all on the Canadian rice-growing experiment – before I start to streamline the content of this site. (Especially seeing as “growing rice in Canada” is the most common search term that leads people here).

Well, it was a technical success. My harvest (pictured) wouldn’t have quite sustained me through the winter. Yup, that’s the whole thing.

But at least I got a harvest! I wonder if this is perhaps the first rice ever grown on Vancouver Island (I actually haven’t even heard of it being grown in British Columbia – although someone must have tried). I am quite sure it’s the first rice ever grown and harvested in Tofino!

So, for those of you have been following along, you’ll remember that I had rice growing in shallower and deeper containers. (For those of you who weren’t, you can check out my previous reports May 25 2009, September 5 2009, and November 27 2009). For some reason, the plants in the shallower plastic container flowered more. However, many of the flowering stalks did not produce rice grains – the little things that look like rice are actually empty (e.g. the one at the left of the photo is empty, compared to the full ones at the right).

So I guess they did not pollinate – but I am not sure why. (I am actually surprised any of them pollinated at all – by the time they were flowering, it was mid-winter and I had them growing inside, on my bedroom windowsill. No insects around, no breeze). I had pretty much given up on them – tried to keep them as wet as I had been before, but I was no longer expecting much from them. (They are very pretty though!)

So the little rice that was there matured as I let the plants dry up, around March. So it took nearly a year to grow the plants from seed right through to “harvest” – longer than it’s supposed to take (around 200 days), but no surprise in Tofino’s cool damp climate.

I didn’t get around to seeding rice this year – it was a very busy spring for me – but I will try to do some next year. Hopefully I’ll be able to source some varieties better suited to our climate (these ones were just standard Product of California brown rice seeds from the supermarket).

Anyone else have any rice-growing stories to share?