Wheatgrass

A healthy crop to grow on the kitchen counter, or anywhere near a sunny window, is wheatgrass. It will grow even without much of a sunny window nearby, as long as it has good daylight.

Plant wheatgrass in trays (the black greenhouse trays are great), using potting soil in the tray. Sprinkle a nice coating of wheat over the trays - wheat that you buy for making flour is sproutable, and will work. Put a thin layer of soil or perlite, or something else on it to keep the moisture in.

Flood the tray. Let it sit. After the water soaks in, flood it again, just to where you can see the water puddling along the sides. Let that soak in. Keep doing that until it does not soak in.It is ok if it has standing water, as long as the grains are not sitting in much - you should only be able to see it along the sides.

After about 5 days or so, the wheat will be sprouting. It will take a week or two to get to the point where you can cut it. Watch it and feel it for moisture. Somewhere during the second week, you'll have to start watering it periodically. Keep the soil damp, but not soaked (the first soaking is ok, because the water evaporates and is used at about the rates that the roots grow).

We usually cut a patch, then another patch, working our way from one end of the tray to the other, cutting 6X6 blocks at a time. By the time we get to the other end, the first end is ready to cut again. You'll get about three cuttings, and you'll notice when the grass starts to lose color and is not so bright green and tender.

If you start a second tray about the time you get to the end of the first one (on the first cutting), you'll have another crop just in time.

Let the first tray dry out. You can then lift the soil, turn it over, and replant, putting another layer of soil or perlite over the new sprinkling of grain. This is one way to reuse the soil. Reusing the soil is important, because this is the major cost involved in growing wheatgrass yourself - you can cut the cost down to pennies per tray if you reuse the soil, otherwise it is dollars per tray.

You WILL get mold on the soil if you reuse the soil - the dead roots from the previous crop will compost down while the new crop is growing, providing nutrients for the new crop. You may get mold on it even if you do not reuse the soil, because potting mix has bark and other organic materials that have to break down, and mold is one thing that does that. The type of mold that grows does not seem to hurt anything - it stays on the soil, the wheatgrass grows up above it and is not harmed. Rinse your cut grass in a colander before use if there is mold on the soil.

I've never fertilized my wheatgrass - we kept it going like this for probably two years, with four trays being rotated, without ever fertilizing, and with no reduction in quality or quantity of output. I suppose it might be best to replace the soil every year or so, but we never did.

If you want to grow wheatgrass for commercial production, you'll have to use fresh soil and new containers each time. Find 4X4, or 6X6 trays, and sell the wheatgrass live in the tray. Be sure to calculate the cost of soil and pots, and markup for time. If you grow them alongside other crops, or many at one time, your time involved drops, because you can assembly line things and save time.

Wheatgrass may sell well at some farmer's markets. If you need salable indoor crops, this is one that might work.

 

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