Wild rice is an annual plant growing in lakes or rivers in Wisconsin. It re-seeds itself every year and thus acts as a perennial in this way. Perennial food producers are a mainstay of permaculture approaches to food production (see, “Can permaculture feed the world?“). Apparently, there used to be large wild rice beds in Lake Mendota, in the heart of Madison, but both urban and rural runoff and boat traffic contributed to their demise.
Wildlife Nurseries, Inc. in Oshkosh, WI (920-231-3780) provides the following information about growing wild rice. Planting is in Spring or Fall (germinates in the Spring). They recommend planting in water from 6″ to 3′ deep (the depth should stays relatively constant over time) and in areas without a lot of plant competition. They also suggest that the water and the soil be well oxygenated. Rice germinates and puts a “floater leaf” on the surface of the water for a week or two as it transitions from an aquatic seed (with very fragile roots) to a more robust, fully-rooted plant. The seed needs to be fresh when planted. 2 quarts is sold for $32 although larger quantities with price breaks are available.
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