To get you on course to growing a healthy and continuous supply of wheatgrass for juicing, we got the dirt on the subject from raw food aficionado Gwen Adams of Bothell, Washington. Gwen has been growing her own indoor wheatgrass crops for 10 years. As well, she was trained, and has been an instructor/lecturer, at the Creative Health Institute of Michigan, has taught raw food diet workshops, is certified as an Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education, and is a certified yoga instructor. Here, Gwen shares with us some of her secrets to growing a bountiful crop of wheatgrass in your own home.
Q: Gwen, how much space do I need to grow wheatgrass?
To keep a regular supply, it’s good to have your wheatgrass growing in rotation, so that one or two batches are growing while another one is ready to juice. You can get special pallets, called sprouters, about the size of a cafeteria tray to grow each batch – or just use actual cafeteria trays.
One advantage of buying a sprouter instead of using cafeteria trays is that it’s easier to accidentally overwater when using cafeteria trays, which can lead to mold. Each cafeteria or sprouter tray will yield about 7 to 10 one-ounce shots of wheatgrass juice – a few days' supply – depending on the quality of the soil.
|Gwen's first shelves for growing wheatgrass|
Q: Why “in rotation”? Can I not just keep reusing a wheatgrass batch after it grows?
Q: Is it best to grow wheatgrass indoors or outdoors?
Q: What if I live in a small apartment with no direct sunlight windows?
Q: What kind of wheatgrass seed do I need to buy?
Q: Where do I buy wheatgrass seeds for juicing?
I’ve also been able to find good quality wheatgrass seeds in a farmer’s feed store. If you are fortunate enough to have one of those near you, try that.
Q: What are the basic supplies needed to grow wheatgrass?
- 6 Wide Mouth Jars for germinating the seeds
- 6 Screens (cut from nylon window screen) to cover your jars
- 6 Screw Tops for the jar lids (or strong rubber bands to hold the screen on)
- 12 Cafeteria Trays (or other growing trays)
- Winter (hard) wheatberries
- Good rich, organic top soil (composted soil is best). It should be dark in color. Enriching it with compost is helpful, if you have access to it.
- A container in which to keep your dirt handy and easily accessible, since you’ll be repeating this process regularly.
- A shelf unit on which to grow the grass (placed near a nice, bright window).
Q: What is the step-by-step wheatgrass growing process?
- Soak approx. ½ to 1 cup of wheat berries (the seeds). Dispose of the wheat berries that float to the top. Place screen on top of jar and then leave it for at least eight hours (basically overnight).
- After adequate soak time, pour the water out. Rinse again and turn the jar upside down to drain in drainer for several hours (or overnight).
- Let your seeds sprout (grow a tail) for one day in a dark place (I use the inside of my stove), or until you see little white grass starting to sprout.
- Put dirt in your growing tray, level with tray’s rim (about one inch thick of dirt).
- Place the sprouted seed on top, spreading to a nice, thin layer.
- Water thoroughly, but don’t over-soak.
- Cover your tray with evenly-dampened paper towels, or just place a second tray upside down on top of it to create darkness.
- Leave it alone for a couple of days. It will begin to grow. When the growing wheatgrass raises the tray, it’s time to take the lid off and expose it to light.
- Begin watering your grass daily. To avoid overwatering, user spray bottle to spritz it. Or, in a hot area, use a watering can with a sprinkle spout. If you overwater it, saturating it, you’ll get mold, and need to drop the whole batch. A very tiny bit of mold is okay, but try to avoid any. To control it, keep your trays where there’s good air circulation.
Q: How do I know when it’s ready?
Gwen Adams with a healthy wheatgrass crop rotation
Q: How do I process my harvest?
For best juicing, get a wheatgrass juicer. A juicer that is designed to juice greens can work, juicer designed for wheatgrass will give you the best yield.
If you have questions for Gwen, or tips of your own to share, please use the comments section below.