Growing Wheatgrass in the Easygreen Sprouter. It is well known that wheatgrass is a difficult crop to grow, by both commercial and private growers. Here, we provide information regarding wheatgrass growing in various climates. Seeing as there are many publications available that discuss the growth of wheatgrass in soil, we will be focusing mainly on information regarding our proprietary technology...
GROWING WHEATGRASS HYDROPONICALLY.
Wheatgrass can be grown using the EasyGreen system with minimum labour whether you intend using soil as a neutral medium or growing it the hydroponic way.
About Light - One of the most important elements for growing good, healthy wheatgrass is light. There is no better way to grow wheatgrass then to briefly expose it to the sun. Light causes the photosynthesis process to create green chlorophyll, thus often nicknaming it “liquid sun". As a rule of thumb, the more day light wheatgrass is exposed to, the better quality of the wheatgrass juice. The standard growing cycle for wheatgrass is of 10 days average. The important time for greening in the light is approximately the last 20% of the total growing cycle. However, wheatgrass should not be exposed to direct sun during the first days of germination, therefore requiring two separate growth stages.
First, the wheatgrass is germinated and grown under the ideal micro climate conditions inside the EasyGreen sprouter for a good sturdy crop. Next, the tray should be removed from the machine and placed in a sunny spot where it would be exposed to the direct sun for at least 1 or 2 hours a day, for the last 2-4 days of growth.
The EasyGreen is designed to handle step 1 only. During this phase the micro climate created within the machine (misting & oxygenating) is of vital importance to minimize the risk of mold and decay. During summer wheatgrass can enjoy 15-16 hours of daylight. When growing wheatgrass during the winter, it is important to extend the daylight exposure time. This can be achieved by adding a grow light with an automatic timer. Grow lights can be found at garden centers and typically cost between $15- $20.
When selecting an area for greening (step two), make sure you have adequate arrangements for adding or hanging a grow light which should be installed at least 45cm above the top of the shoots. If you live in geographical areas where the winter months tend to be quite dark, consider getting a high quality artificial light such as HID Lights usually used in hydroponic growing will offer best results. Keeping in mind that no "full spectrum" light can rival the sun! This option should be considered only as a last resort.
Hydroponic lights are expensive and their electricity consumption is typically not efficient. Similarly, the growth rates of crop vary in winter and summer months, being more sluggish in winter. The EasyGreen growing compartment was designed to keep the wheatgrass tray inside the compartment until the crop reaches its ceiling. This ensures that the home growing process is simplified by eliminating the need to calculate the total days required to leave the wheatgrass tray in the EasyGreen during the various seasons. When the shoots reach the ceiling of the machine, the tray should be removed to proceed with step two.
The instructions are simple - remove the tray when the crop reaches the ceiling of the growing compartment, regardless of the season. During summer time, the wheatgrass will grow from dry seed to the ceiling of the sprouter in as little as 5 days whereas in the winter, it may take 8 or 9 days.
About water - Water is the major constituent of the chlorophyll you will harvest. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use high quality water where the micro elements and minerals are retained after filtration. The Aquasana water filter will provide water that is suitable for the EasyGreen. (Note: do not use distilled or reverse osmosis water, where all the minerals are removed). The colder the water is, the better it is for growing wheatgrass (see “Temperature" below). When using tap water, expect to see “milky" deposits on the clear part of the machine after some time. These deposits do not affect the crops or the machine even though they may seem unaesthetic to some. You may use our deposit remover - EasyGreen 777.
We are often asked about water consumption and we are happy to reply that the technology used in the EasyGreen machines assures minimum usage of water compared to any other sprouting systems. Each day the EasyGreen will use between 1 -3 litres of fresh water in a 24-hour period. We hope this fact will encourage the grower to use high quality water. The fresh is emphasized to draw your attention that there are some sprouting systems that are not high consumers of water simply because the SAME WATER is re-circulated in short intervals (15 to 20 minutes). We are of the opinion that water containing inhibitors and toxins released from the seeds is not the quality of liquid we would like to consume with our potent wheatgrass.
About temperature - Hard winter wheat variety will strive best in an optimal temperature range of 32 - 37 degrees Celsius (daytime and nighttime respectively), which is required by the nature of the seed regardless of the sprouting method used. Most people are not aware of the accurate temperature in the area where the equipment is located. Therefore, we highly recommend the use of a minimum/maximum thermometer that indicates the minimum temperature during night time and maximum temperature during day time. (These thermometers cost $10-$20 and are available at garden centers and various retail outlets). Most people are surprised to see a range of temperature much wider then expected. Heat sources such as ovens, refrigerators and other appliances as well as partial or full sunlight, will make a difference in the temperature fluctuation. It is important to include these factors when considering the best location for growing wheatgrass. If the temperature is higher then 38 degrees Celsius, remove the sliding door after the first 2 days of germination. Previously we mentioned the importance of water temperature. If the tap water in your area is of good quality and you choose to use tap water for your wheatgrass, keep in mind that in some areas of the country, water pipes are exposed to direct sun, raising its temperature by 5-15 degrees Celsius. Seeing as hot water typically encourages mold, check the water temperature to ensure it does not exceed 32 degrees Celsius during the afternoon, especially if you live in an area of warmer climate. If you find that the water in your area exceeds 32 degrees Celsius, consider adding a small in-line water chiller that provides ice-cold water.
About Mould and Mildew - Wheatgrass is extremely sensitive to mould. To minimize the risk of mould growth, the EasyGreen sprouter automatically reduces the temperature in the growing compartment by as much as 10 degrees Celsius or more. The combination of a very fine mist displaced at a certain speed by the operation of the mist generator creates a cooling effect. Additionally, the mist generator creates an air current and forces more oxygen to reach the seeds, while keeping them moist. This special combination is unique to the EasyGreen sprouters and is patented. Results may vary depending on climate conditions and topographical area. Following are some important considerations when growing wheatgrass. Bear in mind that a combination of few tips may be exactly what is required under your specific environmental conditions. Test, try and see what works best for you.
1. Seeds may contain spores that will encourage mold once moisture is introduced. The FDA recommends treating the seeds by soaking them in a solution of 1 gallon of water and 200 cc of sodium hypochlorite (SH) for 30 minutes. If you are allergic or sensitive to sodium hypochlorite, try using a solution of 1 gallon of water and 250 cc of hydrogen peroxide (HP 3% concentrate). Bear in mind that SH is much more effective then HP. If any of these solutions are not to your liking, the TPS (Total Purification System) unit will kill any harmful bacteria using ozone and ion. Some of the advantages of the TPS are its ability to kill bacteria present on the seed before sprouting as well as sterilizing the wheatgrass shoots after harvest; neither process will affect the quality of the wheatgrass. The TPS is FDA approved.
2. Seeds should be tested for freshness. Seeds that are not fresh may start to decompose before or instead of sprouting. Decomposition bacteria will quickly spread across the tray. A good rate of germination is 99% or better. To test, spread 20 seeds in an EasyGreen cartridge, mist them with a hand mister and insert in the EasyGreen growing compartment for 48 hours. If fresh, all seeds should sprout. If only 1 seed didn't sprout, the rate of germination is 95%. To retain freshness of good seeds, unused seeds should be kept in a closed bag, inserted in a Tupperware and stored in the freezer.
3. If the maximum day temperature in the area where the sprouter is located slightly exceeds the limits mentioned above, leave the door of the EasyGreen open after the second day of germination.
4. Add two tablespoons of grapefruit seed extract Or 3 tablespoons of HP to the water reservoir of the EasyGreen when the reservoir is full (5 litres). At this stage, you may add nutrition to the water. See more details under “Nutrition"
5. Increase the total amount of timer activation from 6 to 7 or 8. Some growers have the tendency to activate the timer more often. Do not over mist the seed as drainage takes some time and when seeds are submerged in water it will reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the seed. This can lead to rotting and mold.
6. If you detect some mold on the bottom area of the tray, cut the wheatgrass above the mold. You may also hose it down by putting the tray on your sink at a 45-degree angle and allow tap water to run across the tray. This is a technique commonly used by commercial growers when necessary.
7. If you are growing wheatgrass under very unfavorable environmental conditions, we strongly recommend using the “TPS" for treating the seeds as well as the wheatgrass. (more information on our parent website www.easygreen.com
Nutrition - There are a variety of solutions that can be added to the water compartment of the EasyGreen to enrich the quality of the juice extracted from wheatgrass and enhance growth. Trace mineral Concentrace which is available from Vitality 4 Life, is a pure trace mineral product suitable for the EasyGreen. Liquid kelp, hydroponic solutions, "Ocean Grow" and many others can be experimented with to determine which will be best used in your specific circumstances.
When shopping for hydroponic solutions be aware that chlorophyll is the by-product of magnesium. A magnesium-rich solution will supply more chlorophyll. Check the label for adequate trace minerals and make sure no manure was used to produce the solution. The solution selected should be 100% water-soluble.
Solutions should not be added to the water before the 4th or 5th day of germination as sprouts only start absorbing nutrition around the 5th or 6th day of germination. When adding solution to the water compartment, please follow the manufacturers' recommendation. Beginner growers tend to add more solution then recommended believing it will boost the crop. Contrary to that belief, high concentration of solution can "burn" the crop. Weakening the recommended concentration by 10 -15% will yield better results.
During summer time, when the crop is quick to grow, it will reach the ceiling of the machine in about 5 to 6 days. Therefore, you may start to add nutritional solutions after removing the tray from the EasyGreen sprouter (on step 2). Place the solution in the hand mister you intend to use to moisten the crop daily.
During wintertime, when the time the crop is left inside the growing compartment of the EasyGreen is longer then 5 or 6 days, you may add nutrition in the water compartment of the EasyGreen. We designed the EasyGreen with its own built in water compartment for this very purpose; to ease adding solutions and experimentation.
Try different solutions and see what works best for you. How much wheat grass juice can be extracted from a tray? There are a variety of factors affecting the rate of growth as well as the amount of juice extractable from Wheatgrass. The quality of your juicer, the quality and freshness of the hard winter wheat seeds used, the time of year and the local weather conditions, to mention few. During winter the rate of growth will be about 25% to 30% slower, the shoots will be shorter resulting in a smaller yieldable crop.
If you are using multiple EasyGreen units to sprout a variety of sprouts in addition to wheatgrass, we suggest you use more units for the wheatgrass during winter to compensate for the slower growth rate. Each large tray could provide 250 - 500 mls of juice.
Hydroponic growing vs. soil - People interested in sprouting often ask about the effect of chemicals in hydroponics. There is normally a change in view when the person understands that plants can use and absorb nutrients ONLY in their inorganic form. Manure or compost is the result of decomposition and decayed vegetables and others where microbe activity decomposes the organic matter into its inorganic elements to be used by the plant.
Most experts agree that elements in their inorganic forms are cleaner and purer. When used organically there is little control over harmful bacteria such as amoeba, for example rendering hydroponic food as cleaner and more sanitized. When a solution of inorganic matter is introduced into the water, it is readily available for the plant to use, resulting in a healthier, well-balanced product. Crops growing in a closed micro system such as the EasyGreen are better protected from harmful insects thereby reducing and often eliminating the need of fungicides and insecticides.
Some growers believe that growing wheatgrass in a medium is advantageous and claim it tastes better. The EasyGreen sprouter is designed to grow sprouts and wheatgrass with or without medium, depending on personal preference. Growing mediums include potting soil, peat moss or sphagnum peat moss - the choice is yours. Medium such as soil often protects the roots from drying. If the tray is exposed to the sun (step 2) for extended periods, a growing medium can be advantageous.
To minimize the risk of drying tender roots in hot areas, medium such as soil will help keep the roots moist. If you intend to place the trays (once removed from the EasyGreen) in an area where the sun hits the crop for a prolonged time, it is best to protect the roots from the direct sunlight. Medium such as peat moss is neutral and can be used to protect the moisture around the roots instead of soil.
Plan in advance and decide if to use medium on your trays of wheatgrass. The tray or cartridge of the EasyGreen can be filled with ¼Ã to ½ soil or other hydroponic medium. Sprinkle one or two full layers of seeds on top of the layer of soil, moisten well with a hand mister to “kick-start" the seeds and insert the tray into the growing compartment of the EasyGreen. You may still experiment with solutions as explained under the "nutrition" section.
More About Soil - Traditionally, Ann Wigmore (of the Ann Wigmore foundation), suggested using barrels of top soil mixed with peat moss and worms! This was three to four decades ago, when the hydroponic field was in its infant stage, but hydroponic science and the hydroponic industry have largely matured since. Today, the hydroponic industry is so well established that growing wheatgrass the old-fashioned way presents major inconveniences to the modern grower where time and space have become major considerations, not to mention the need for growing or collecting of worms in a modern kitchen set up!