Wheatgrass is a food prepared from the cotyledons of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum (subspecies of the family Poaceae). It is sold either as a juice or powder concentrate. Wheatgrass differs from wheat malt in that it is served freeze-dried or fresh, while wheat malt is convectively dried. Wheatgrass is allowed to grow longer than malt. Like most plants, it contains chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
HOW TO GROW
Pre-sprouting is so important to ensure a good crop. Follow these steps to pre-sprout your wheatgrass seeds to ensure that your crop grows at a much faster rate.
- Measure out a bowl of seeds. Amount: estimate enough to fill one layer of seeds on whatever the size of your tray.
- Rinse the seeds in clean water, drain, then soak the seeds in a container with about 2-3 times of cool water.
- Soak for about 8-10 hours.
- After 8-10 hours, drain the water, then soak them again as in #2 above and soak for another 8 hours.
- After the second set of 8-10 hours, drain the water, then soak them once more the same for another 8-10 hours.
- Check if it has sprouted roots of at least 1/8 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch.
- Line the bottom of the tray with unbleached paper towels so that the roots do not protrude at the bottom through the holes in the tray.
- Fill the tray with pre-moistened soil, compost or potting mix to about one and half inch of the tray depth. Ensure that your soil does not contain artificial fertilizers or chemicals. Always use organic.
- Lay out the germinated seeds evenly and densely in one layer, on the damp soil in the tray. Gently impressed the seeds into the soil.
- Place your tray under indirect sunlight, probably inside your house, near a window and with proper ventilation. Wheatgrass does not like hot direct sunlight.
- The young shoots need to be watered at least twice a day to keep them nice and moist. If the soil gets dry, the young shoots may die off before they root. To help prevent this, put a sheet of damp newspaper over the tray to keep them moist until they grow to about an inch high.
To water, use a spray bottle, adjusting to light-medium. When the shoots are above one inch, probably about day 5, reduce watering to once a day in the morning. But always ensure that the water is just enough to keep the soil damp to the roots. Avoid over-watering.
In warmer and humid climates, mold may tend to grow in your wheatgrass tray. This is a common problem but is harmless. When harvesting, just cut above the affected area, avoiding the mold. A blowing fan during humid days may help prevent mold-growth.
- When your wheatgrass grows to about 6 inches (about day 9 or 10), it is ready for harvesting. Use a scissors and cut the wheatgrass just above the seeds.
Keep seedlings in a bright location for greenest sprouts but avoid burning hot midday rays of sun. There is very little to the care of wheatgrass except watering, as it is harvested and used quickly and the goal is not a long term plant.
Harvesting starts when the sprouts are 6 to 7 inches tall. You can also use growing mats for ease of extraction and compost them when finished.
If any mold problems begin to appear, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water and spray on the plants daily. Keep good circulation on the plants and enjoy their rich health benefits as you harvest. Plant a new batch every few days in fresh trays for a constant supply.
- Stem and leaf rusts
Wheatgrass provides a concentrated amount of nutrients, including iron; calcium; magnesium; amino acids; chlorophyll; and vitamins A, C and E.
- Wheatgrass fans say that its rich nutrient content boosts immunity, kills harmful bacteria in your digestive system, and rids your body of waste.
- Some proponents tout wheatgrass as a treatment for cancer, anemia, diabetes, constipation, infections, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis and joint pain, among other health concerns.
- However, there are few research studies about wheatgrass, so it’s difficult to assess such health claims.