Buckwheat Is Blooming

Buckwheat In September

Buckwheat In September

Here in western Pennsylvania buckwheat is blooming. Long fields of buckwheat carpet the countryside in a solid mass of tiny white flowers.
The name “buckwheat” is a little bit of a misnomer because the plant is neither wheat nor any type of grain or grass. Buckwheat is actually related to common garden sorrel and rhubarb.


Buckwheat is a spindly easy to raise plant that grows very fast in well-drained slightly acid soils. It will attain a height of about 3’ or 4’ tall in less than 100 days when planted in mid spring. The yield per acre varies depending upon soil conditions, but about 15 – 20 bushels per acre is pretty average for this section of the country.
The leaves of buckwheat are heart-shaped and seeds are small and triangular and remind me a little bit of Morning Glory seeds – except they are a dark brown.

Heart Shaped Buckwheat Leaves

Heart Shaped Buckwheat Leaves

Buckwheat seeds usually are harvested for food. Perhaps the best known food uses for buckwheat in the US is buckwheat flour and buckwheat groats. Buckwheat pancakes are a staple here in western Pennsylvania and are often served for supper with fresh sausage and coffee.

Buckwheat is grown in my part of Pennsylvania both as a cover crop and for flour.
If you don’t already know, cover crops are sometimes known as “green manure” and are used to improve and build soils. Certain cover crops will choke out noxious weeds and help to control different types of plant diseases and insects. Buckwheat is not native to North America – it originated in Russia. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were some of the first American farmers to grow buckwheat as a cover crop to help improve and amend the tobacco depleted soils on their plantations.
When buckwheat is used as a cover crop, it is plowed back down under into the soil while the plants are still in bloom and green. By plowing the green buckwheat into the soil, nitrogen in the soil is increased. Before the introduction of modern chemical fertilizers, buckwheat and legumes as cover crops were the preferred method for enriching soils.

Buckwheat Flowers Starting To Mature Into Seeds

Buckwheat Flowers Starting To Mature Into Seeds

In about another 3 or 4 weeks this year’s buckwheat crop will begin to be harvested.
Fresh milled buckwheat flour will become available once again and local Granges and fire halls will host buckwheat pancake suppers.
Fresh buckwheat pancakes are a sure sign that cooler weather isn’t too far off and small game hunting season is just around the corner.

Buckwheat In Bloom

Buckwheat In Bloom

  8 comments for “Buckwheat Is Blooming

  1. Kathleen Wilson
    September 4, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Lovely to hear about Buckwheat on September 4…Feast of Saint Ida of Herzfeld, Pope Saint Boniface I, Saint Rhuddlad -and the birthday of my Dad -now ‘said’ to be ‘no longer with us’-BUT,ALWAYS WITH US…We’re having ‘weather-in-a-can’ on this Special morning here, so it’s nice to see news of a favorite -Buckwheat -which incidentally, I was just thinking about [and intended to write to you about, among a few other things], after doing a little reading on your site, a day or so back. I was on the ‘amish’ tag page, and Buckwheat came to mind [along with millet], when I was reading about one of your ‘superstitions’ among the Pennsylvania German -specifically, the one about the eggshell [and whole egg]as a folk cure for scours. There’s likely some ‘science’ at work there, with quite a tie-in to ‘other things in the news’ -like ‘chemical weapons’-said to be in Syria, but we’ve had them in southwest Nova Scotia, for about twenty years, DELIBERATE ‘courtesy’ of the FALSITY of a Canadian government, which is actually BENT ON MALFEASANCE.. anyway, last week, I heard a radio interview with a young student who’s got some research project going,on making water filters out of eggshells -and, I’ve been meaning to write the interviewer about this, but she’s WAY OFF BASE -I mean, when you get right to the CORE OF THE ISSUE. It’s a little complex, because eggshells did figure into our research during all the ‘TROUBLES’ here [with animals and people], after the governments’ deliberate aerial spraying, but eventually, it became clear that they were operating more like ‘sacrificial anodes’ [basic ‘anode and cathode’ chemistry, on this part of it], than anything you’d ever want in a water *filter*, per se [and we zeroed in on this part of the research, because our hens were the first ‘bellweather/bellwethers’, since they would lay eggs with no shells, during the worst of it -of course, the sheep -the actual ‘bellwether’, canaries-in-the-coal-mines’, when it comes to heavy metals poisoning, would simply drop dead -but, GOD BLESS THEM, WE EVENTUALLY LEARNED A LOT… SO, BUCKWHEAT, you may be wondering, -where’s BUCKWHEAT IN ‘ALLTHIS’? Buckwheat, with millet, in turns out, is one of the few ‘natural’ sources of naturally-occuring molybdenum, which also behaves like a ‘sacrifial anode’ for heavy metals, in the human/animal alimentary canal, with which, ALMIGHTY OVERSOUL ENGINEER OF THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE has provided for very neat and regular elimination. BUCKWHEAT AND MILLET -interestingly, NOT ‘bran’, which apparently made it into this group, in a very trendy way, some years back, when somebody -probably in a business school-ntoiced that bran is so plentiful.. -bran, it turns out, ‘robs’ the body of important calcium-builders, on its way out of the body -BUCKWHEAT, though, AND MILLET, HAVE EXTRAORDINARY DIETARY BENEFITS.
    They do have an interesting counterpart, on the land, and that would be just about every member of the Willow Family, which is practically like an ‘alien’ species, in that these trees actually *use* heavy metals in their own metabolism, as they clean up their local environment. -but that’s another Story, along with my longer letter to you, which I hope to get to later today. MEANWHILE, THANKS SO MUCH FOR THESE WONDERFUL ARTICLES OF YOURS. YOU HAVE EMBARKED ON QUITE A VITAL MINISTRY -

  2. September 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    The buckwheat here bloomed a few weeks ago. I planted a few acres for the bees and as a food plot over on the ground that mostly goes un-used right now.

    It’s a little expensive to use as a food plot seed over the mixed stuff but worth it as the Honey Bees LOVE it.

    • KMG
      September 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      I love buckwheat honey!

      • Kathleen Wilson
        September 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

        I’ve never had Buckwheat Honey, but I bet it’s wonderful [LUCKY BEES!] We do have -nearly as often as we have rose hip syrup [which is also wonderful]-the brown sugar [‘Home Syrup’] that’s been mentioned, and that’s also excellent. Probably most who read here know all about rose hips -which may not be so plentiful this year, because it’s been such a soggy summer, [there’s been more to do here, though, than pay attention to the usually hardy rosa rugosa, so I don’t know for sure] but generally, the rose hips, after the first frost, glow like enormous jewels, and they’ll keep in the freezer for as long as it takes you to get to syrup-making or jelly making -and they even make nice Christmas morning treats for the barn animals and the birds.. [if there ever were a ‘bad season’ for rose hips, you could keep them for years, and as far as I can tell they’d never change, in the freezer]. Quince jelly is fantastic with Buckwheat …everythings-, too, and quinces are such fantastic teachers for first time jelly makers because they have such a high pectin content, they';re quite ‘forgiving’of first time jelly mistakes. Also, both the October-Sunset color and the taste of quince jelly are -well, divine.. which is also a nice mix with Buckwheat’s ‘sweet’ [in the literary sense] earthiness. Just as likely as everyone here knowing about rose hips and quince, they probably know that whey [when the ‘Home’ or ‘Simple’ cheese [as we call it here] is made with cider vinegar is practically-speaking, identical to buttermilk, and far more plentiful, but, yes, ‘buttermilk’ [whey] is excellent with Buckwheat Pancakes -then again, what *TRUE FIELDFARE* wouldn’t be?

  3. September 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I love buckwheat pancakes! Yum!

    • KMG
      September 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      My husband does too! I think he could eat them everyday of his life :-)

  4. ProudHillbilly
    September 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    You do let that batter “sour”, don’t you?!

    Grew up not caring for standard pancake syrup because Grandma always just made her own from brown sugar and hot water. And a plate of buckwheat pancakes, coarse ground sausage, and eggs, all dosed in her syrup, was heaven.

    • KMG
      September 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Not too often – that takes planning ahead :-) I usually just mix it with buttermilk and cook ‘em up.

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