We will definitely have 2200 GDD before we get frost in the fall. Seeds are cheap, so I just ordered some and will plant a small plot just for grins.
The property management company where my office is located just turned some bare land into a community garden. Just received confirmation that my request for one of the plots was approved, so I've got another 5x50 space to plant barley, and it's also down in the valley, so growing conditions will be a bit better.
Great! You should be able to get enough for a 5-gal batch from the 5x50 plot!
Malting: the best source of information is http://brewingbeerthehardway.wordpress.com/
. Jean-Francois Dyment has complied a list of malting links, and he records his own techniques.
His blog is where I go to learn more, but I do things a little simpler than Jean-Francois, and it works. Here's what I do:
Decide how much you want to malt. Start with about 5 pounds and move up from there. Put the grains in a 5-gal plastic bucket, and wash 3 times with water. Throw away grains that float at the water's surface (these are unfilled grains that should have been winnowed away.)
Then transfer grains to a bag (such as you'd use for BIAB) and soak in water that you would brew with, for 8 hours. Pull the grains out of the water to drain and to let them breathe for 6 hours. You can suspend then in a strainer, or you can tie the bag to something sturdy. Then soak the grains again for 8 more hours.
After the 8 + 6 rest + 8 hours soaking, the grains will have enough water to germinate. (It's about 45% moisture by weight you're shooting for, but unnecessary to measure it for now.) Drain grains for about one hour, using the same technique you did earlier (strainer or tie bag to sturdy object). This allows the grains to absorb all the water on their surface. Very important! Water on the surface of grains can later lead to fungus, so give those grains an hour to absorb the surface water.
Next take a big flat cardboard box, like the ones that laptop computers come in, and line it with a large plastic garbage bag. Dump the grains out of the straining bag, and into the lined box. Here they will germinate for the next 7-11 days. Every day, wash your hands, and then turn the grains. This will 1) release CO2, 2) mix the grains. You'll notice that grains at the bottom of the lined box tend to grow faster. This is because they have better access to oxygen, and they don't dry out. You'll also notice that the grains at the top of the pile slowly dry out. Mix it all up!
When you turn, spritz the grains with good brewing water from a spritzer bottle every time you turn them. How much to add every day? You want to add more water if your environment is dry, and less so if it's wet. Here in northern CA, we typically have humidity between 40-60%, and I add about a cup of water to my 15 lb. pile every day. You're going to have to play it by ear. When you visit your grains in the morning, before turning, look at them. They should not have any surface water, not even the ones at the bottom of the pile But when you crush one grain between your fingers, it should be as soft as a stick of unchewed chewing gum, not hard and not mushy. If it's mushy, or if there is water on the surface of the grains at the bottom of the pile, they're too wet. If the grain is harder than a stick of gum, or if the rootlets are brown and brittle, they're too dry.
Note: the rootlets of the grains at the top of the pile typically dry out a little and get a little brown over the course of 24 hours, even if you're adding the right amount of water. That's normal, and once you mix it up, those rootlets will rehydrate. But if rootlets on the inside of the pile are brown and brittle, they're too dry. You will figure this out with experience.
Don't cover the grains, even if they're too dry. Moisture will condense on the grains when you cover them, and they'll grow fungus. Don't worry too much about the temperature of the grains. Ideally, they should be kept cool at 16-18C, but it's kind of tough to accomplish, and doesn't add much. Probably the only malt to make that requires strictly cool germination temps is Pilsner malt.
Now, once the acrospire reaches all the way to the other end of the grain, they are modified. Ignore the length of the rootlets -- they don't matter. The acrospire is hidden, but you can see its profile through the husk on one side of the grain. You can also take the husk off carefully to see the acrospire, but this almost never works for me. Just look for the acrospire's profile through the husk, and wait for it to go the full length. It's okay too if it pokes out a little bit, but then it's definitely done.
What to do after modification in another post!