About a month ago we started on an exciting (albeit stressful) endeavor. We started growing wheatgrass in our greenhouse, filling every square inch top to bottom with trays, soil, seed and bright green blades of grass. Why does one need 100+ trays of wheatgrass? What is that stuff anyway? Why do crunchy-granola health junkies go nutzo over wheatgrass? Who decided that juicing lawn clippings was a great source of vitamins and nutrients? That last question I can’t answer but for real, let’s talk about some wheatgrass shall we?
Wheatgrass is said to have excellent supplemental nutritional value and loaded with vitamins minerals and that B12 stuff. Wheatgrass fanatics also say there’s some curative properties, although that actually hasn’t been proven. But it does sound nice to say. This “superfood” has the health junkies going insane and craving their daily wheatgrass shot like a bunch of wheatgrass fiends. In fact, I don’t know who is more dangerous, health nuts deprived of their wheatgrass or coffee drinkers deprived of their espresso. It’s a toss up. Regardless, people need their wheatgrass, and we’re here to help. After some research and trial and error, we’re now providing wheatgrass to local Smoothie King juice bars!
So, if you’ve ever been interested in growing your own wheatgrass, here’s a look at how we grow ours. Granted, we grow 100x the amount that you would probably need at home for personal use. But at least we can walk you through the process.
First, scout out some wheatgrass seed. There’s many super sweet seed companies out there that specialize in organic wheatgrass seed. You can look online or contact your local health food or feed store. We use this great Missouri certified, naturally grown, non-GMO wheatgrass seed. Good seed can cost good money, so be prepared to fork over some scratch for that good ish. We got the ill seed hookup from our neighbors who just so happen to own a feed store. Imagine that! However, we do know that Genesis wheatgrass seed is a very reputable seed source, although there are many other great wheatgrass seed companies out there.
Alright, so you have your seed. Next, you’ll need a container to start rinsing and soaking your seed. A mason jar or deep tupperware container works great. The amount of seed you use depends on the size of the tray you’ll end up growing the wheatgrass in. For the regular 10″x20″ greenhouse tray you’ll need 2-3 cups of dry seed. Put your dry seed in your container and cover the seeds with 2″-3″ of cool water. Let them soak for 8-12 hours and then drain and cover with water again. Do this 2-3 times a day for the first three days. By the end of the third day, they will have swelled up to about twice their original size and Â you should begin to see them sprouting.
After three days, get your soil and trays ready! We use a standard bale of growth medium, which is really just peat moss and perlite, but you can use any type of soil you want. You could us even no soil at all and grow wheatgrass hydroponically (stay tuned for that blog post!). The wheatgrass will only be growing off of stored seed engery for the first 10 days after it sprouts. It’s still being powered by last year’s sunshine. So by the time the plant is even big enough to need some nutrients it’s going to be cut down and juiced by fine human specimens such as yourself.
You only need about 1-2″ of soil in the trays. Once you have the soil in your tray, moisten the soil and evenly spread your seed. (Pause). Then water your seeded tray. Once you have it watered, cover the seeded tray with an upside down empty tray. The cover tray will keep moisture in and light out. Wheatgrass does not need any light for the first week of its life (including seed soaking time). The perfect temperature is around 70 degrees, although it can handle temps as low as 60 degrees.
Water your trays twice a day. We do a heavy watering in the morning and a light watering in the evening. The goal is to keep your seed nice and moist (whoa…pause) while they develop a root structure. Keep the cover trays on until the wheatgrass is tall enough to physically push the cover tray up or at least touch it. But if you wanna, once they develop a root structure and begin to sprout (about 2″-3″ tall), you can take the cover off. This is usually somewhere between day 3-5.
Keep watering until it’s 6″-8″ tall and then you’re ready to harvest your wheatgrass!
When your wheatgrass flat is all ready to go, it will become a big mat. All the roots will have grown together into a big ol’ root mass. They’re just having a little party down there, mingling and hob nobbing and whatnot. It’ll hold together kinda like a roll of sod, if you know what I mean. You’ll be able to grab the blades of grass and pull the whole thing out of the plastic tray if you want. Or just leave it in there. Or pull half of it out and give it to a friend. Or just do whatever you want with it, why the hell would we care? It’s your flat, you grew it! Throw it out the friggin’ window if you feel like it. Whatever!
To harvest, just snip the tops of the wheatgrass and throw them into your juicer. If you are like most normal appliance owning red blooded Americans and don’t (yet) have a juicer, you can blend it and squeeze the pulp through a cheesecloth or colander. Store in a jar in the fridge or ice cube trays and throw it into your smoothies!
When we have extra trays after our deliveries, we toss the trays into our chicken coops and they go crazy for them! This allows our wheatgrass operation to be zero waste! The chickens love scratching through the mats, finding sprouted seeds and tall grass. It’s a great way to supplement our feed bill through winter when they don’t have as much natural grass to forage. If you’re not into wheatgrass for your own human consumption (people food), you can use this same exact method that we just explained and sprout all sorts of other stuff like sunflower seeds, barley or oats for your chickens or other livestock as well.