Many gardeners find the idea of growing rice in a home garden intimidating. While rice may be a somewhat unusual crop to cultivate, it is certainly not impossible for a gardener with a sunny growing location and up to six months of growing season to grow rice successfully. Plan your growing area carefully and sow your rice as early in the season as possible when the air and soil temperatures are at least 75 degrees F.
Position the wading pool or pond liner in a location that receives full sun. The ground should be level where you place the wading pool so that when you add water to the pool or pond liner the water level will be the same across the entire growing area. Fill the wading pool approximately one-half full of top soil and add at least 3 inches of compost to the top of the soil. Use the hand spade to work the compost into the top soil so that the materials are well mixed.
Soak the rice seeds in room temperature water for approximately 36 hours prior to planting.
Create rows in the pool or pond liner with the trowel. Make the rows 6 inches apart and make a small planting hole every 6 inches along the rows. Place five grains of rice in every hole and cover the rice with about ½-inch of topsoil. Add a very light layer of mulch over the newly planted rice and water the rice daily while it is germinating. Watch for the rice seedlings to emerge within a week.
Thin the rice seedlings so that one rice plant is growing every 3 inches along the rows when the rice seedlings are approximately 5 inches high.
Add water to the pool or pond when the seedlings are well established and have several leaves. Add water so that at least 1 inch of water stands above the soil level. As the rice plants grow add more water; you may have as much as 8 inches of water above the soil level by the time the rice is finished growing. Add more water to the pond or pool over the growing season to keep the water level at least 1 inch above the soil.
Drain the pool or pond liner when the rice plants are approximately 15 inches high. Siphon off the water with a long plastic tube and then add fresh water to the pool or pond liner.
Watch the rice for indications it is ready to harvest. When the rice plants begin to bend and the rice ripens to a golden color, it is time to siphon off the water from the pool or pond liner again. Allow the rice to continue to grow without water for two additional weeks until it turns a deeper shade of brown.
Harvest the rice by cutting it off immediately beneath the rice clusters. Gather the rice clusters and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake the rice clusters at 180 degrees F for 60 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool them to room temperature.
Roll the rice clusters between your hands to remove the rice from the plants. Separate the rice kernels from the rice husks and discard the husks. Store the rice in an airtight container.