Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Growing Wheat Grass (My Liquid Sunshine)

I drink wheat grass on a daily basis and it's very expensive to purchase it from either a Juice Bar or Whole Foods and so I decided to grow my own.  I would normally spend on average about $2-$3.50 per day and now I spend just pennies.  Also my husband gets the benefit of drinking it as well since I'm making it at home.  And it only takes me about an hour of my time per week to harvest an entire week's worth of juicing! 

Manual Healthy Juicer - $45 from Amazon
The health benefits from drinking wheat grass are endless.  It is full of Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, Vitamins, Minerals, Living Enzymes and is a natural source of Omega 3's.  Wheat grass is reported to aide in digestion, blood flow, cancer prevention and detoxification.  All sounds good to me! 

To start growing wheat grass at home, you'll need the following:
  • Two growing trays with drainage.  I went to a local plant nursery and they gave me two trays for free, but you can order everything online.  
  • Potting soil that includes peat moss for moisture retention.  I purchased "green" potting soil from Whole Foods that didn't contain any "manure" or "peat moss" and then I added my own peat moss.  The ratio of potting soil to moss is 3:1.  For some reason having "manure" in my soil, even though it is sterilized, wasn't very appealing to me.
  • One 2 quart jar for soaking seeds and sprouting.
  • Spray bottle to mist sprouting seeds.
  • Plastic garbage bag to cover seeds while sprouting.
  • And of course Red Winter Wheat Berries (seeds).  I purchased mine from Whole Foods.  It cost me about $5.00 for 5 pounds of seeds.
Wheat Grass Growing Supplies
The first step to growing wheat grass is to soak the seeds in a 2 quart jar overnight for 8-12 hours.
Soaking Seeds in Filtered Water
The following morning you'll need to rinse the seeds in a fine mesh strainer, shake to remove excess water, add seeds back to jar and position jar at a 45 degree angle in another bowl for support.  You should repeat this process late afternoon/early evening and then again late in the evening--for a total of three rinses.  The seeds will start sprouting within 8-24 hours.
Seeds Sprouting in Jar for 24 Hours
After the seeds have been sprouting for 24 hours in the jar, they are ready for planting.  The planting trays that I got from the nursery are 21x10 in size and I use about 2 cups of seed.  If you purchase your trays online they either come in 10x12 or 17x10.  The smaller uses about 1 1/2 cups seeds and the larger, the same as mine.  Fill the potting soil about 1/2 way up the tray about 2" and place the seeds evenly on the surface of the soil.  It will look crowded, but that's okay.  
Growing Tray Showing 1/2 with Soil and 1/2 with Sprouted Seeds
Growing Tray Showing Day 1 Sprouted Seeds
Now you're ready for your first watering.  You really need to give the seeds a good watering every morning and a misting every night.  I water enough in the morning until the water drains out of the bottom of the trays.  For the first 3-4 days, the seeds should be covered at all times to protect them from drying out.  You can place an extra tray on top, or I just cover the seeds with two kitchen trash bags.  I also keep the trays inside during this time in my garage.  But once we hit day 4, I move the tray outside to a shady area with lots of airflow to prevent mold from growing.  The trays/seeds/grass should never be in direct sunlight to prevent drying out and browning.
Seeds Covered with Plastic During 1st - 3rd Growing Days
Day 2 (Water Heavy in the Morning and Mist in the Evening)
Day 2 Sprouting Seeds


Day 3 (Water Heavy in the Morning and Mist in the Evening)
Day 3 Sprouting Seeds/Wheat Grass





Day 4 (Water Heavy in the Morning and Mist in the Evening).  By day four, you no longer need to keep the seeds covered to prevent drying out because the grass is established at this point.

Day 4 Wheat Grass

Once you get to Day 5, it all starts to look the same, the grass just gets longer and lusher.  Grows to be about 6" high.  Keep watering in the morning and misting in the evening everyday until harvest.

Day 5 Wheat Grass
So how do you know when it's time to harvest?  It usually takes 7-10 days, depending on the temperature.  Best growing temps are between 50-80 degrees.  As soon as you see the first sign of the stem splitting into two leaves, you should harvest at that point.  I made the mistake of waiting too long on my first batch and the juice was a little bitter.  But since then, all of my grass has turned out very balanced in flavor--sweet and herbaceous.

Grass Splitting at Base--Ready for Harvest
Established Root Base of Wheat Grass
Beautiful Wheat Grass Ready for Harvest and Drinking
I harvest all of the wheat grass at once and place it in a plastic bag in my refrigerator.  My husband and I go through it so quickly 5-7 days max that it stays really fresh.  But you can cut it per order.  I just worry that it will become bitter and so I can control that by cutting it all at once.

Cutting Grass for Storage and Drinking
Ready for Bagging
Finally, to make sure that I never run out I start soaking more seeds when I remove the cover on the 4th day of the growing cycle.  This seems to work well for us, but you may need to start the process sooner or later in the cycle.

Wheat Grass is Ready for Harvest and New Seeds Planted
Well I hope that I didn't bore you with this post.  I just love this stuff.  I still use my other juicer and have "My Morning Cocktail" daily.  This drink is just an added bonus for my immune system.  I drink about 1-3 ounces daily and my husband drinks about 1 ounce.  Also, it's important to drink wheat grass on an empty stomach so this is the first thing we drink in the morning, other than water.

Funny, my husband was so worried that I would have another "Heirloom Tomato" fiasco.  Over the past three years, I've spent so much money and time trying to grow Heirloom Tomatoes that I've given up.  Maybe all along I was meant to be a wheat grass farmer instead!...:-)


 

   

5 comments:

  1. Do you have problems with little bugs? I use a compost mix for my seedlings and always get those little dark bugs.

    Will the grass grow back once you cut it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, I've never had any problem with bugs. I do rinse my wheatgrass and dry it in a salad spinner before juicing though. I've never tried growing a second batch after cutting. I've read that it looses some of its nutrients and also, I don't want to deal with any mold issues. A second growth might be perfect for pets if they like eating grass. Try it and see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This looks so good! I'm going to try it.
    I actually enjoyed reading through this posting. Many thanks.
    interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it.

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    ReplyDelete
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  5. what type of juicer do you use?

    ReplyDelete

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