A very well-known member of the cereal family which is a staple in the everyday diet for most of us is wheat. Apart from contributing to our dinner tables with its seeds, the wheat plant also provides us with its extremely nutritious grass which has been named, though not very creatively, Wheatgrass.
Among the countless things we owe the Mesopotamian Civilization, the practice of cultivating and consuming Wheatgrass is another. This underrated not-so-good tasting grass can work miracles on your health, increasing oxygen supply in your blood, boosting your metabolic rate, and helping you prevent and fight a multitude of diseases.
Wheatgrass juice is considered by many to be among one of the most nutritious plant products available to us. However, the sad news is this grass is not very easily available at the local stores you find down the streets. Even if you do find them, they can cost you an arm and a bone. But, do not get upset. If you are into gardening you probably already know that cultivating this blast of health benefits at home is not very difficult.
A common practice among health-conscious people is to use powder or tablets made from these plants. However, instead of consuming the chemical-based and side effect loaded commercial powders and tablets, depending on the natural, organically grown plants is a way better option.
Do not have a green thumb? Do not want to get your hands dirty in the garden soil? Well, you can still have the juice of your homegrown wheatgrass without having anything to do with soil as wheatgrass can very easily be grown without it. Wondering how to grow wheatgrass at home without soil? In this article, we will provide the answer to this question. So, read on and find out.
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What Is Wheatgrass and Why Do You Need It?
Before we talk any more about growing wheatgrass at home without soil, let us first know what wheatgrass is, and why it is a must-have in your diet. Scientifically known as Triticum aestivum, wheatgrass is a hay-like dry grass of bright green color. It is the tender, young, freshly-germinated grass obtained from wheat plants and has been serving as a holistic medicine ever since prehistoric times.
This storehouse of essential nutrients, proteins, enzymes, and vitamins is low in calories and helps in increasing oxygen supply in your blood. It helps your body in fighting diseases like diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, heavy blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, heart diseases, and other blood disorders. Some scientists even argue that is extremely useful in fighting cancer.
The nutritional value of these plants is so high that one serving of its juice equals about five to seven servings of most other vegetables and fruits. Growing wheatgrass at home is a very easy way of harnessing its benefits every day with the surety of fresh and continued supply.
Apart from consuming its juice, there are several other benefits of this plant. It can also be used as a portion of extremely cheap food for all kinds of animals like cows, goats, buffaloes, pigs, and chicken, and is also safe for cats and dogs to munch on. This grass is beneficial not just for you, but also for your friends from other species.
Wheatgrass can be grown indoors as well as outdoors. Controlling their quality and caring for the plants becomes a lot easier when you grow your plants indoors which is why most gardeners prefer growing them inside. These short term plants require an extremely shallow medium for growth and germination. They grow best in temperatures between 60⁰F to 75⁰F with temperatures above 90⁰F being harmful to them. They need to be watered regularly. Choosing to leave them in the moderate sun for at least 4-5 hours every day would be a good idea.
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Requirements Before Growing Wheatgrass without Soil
Now that we have discussed the basic nature and the benefits of wheatgrass, let us get back to the most important question that we will answer through this article- can you grow wheatgrass without soil? Well, the answer is yes.
Wheatgrass is an extremely low maintenance plant that does not require any extra care or supervision. Well, that should not be a surprise since you’ve already learned that they can grow even without soil! As you can already guess, they require only a handful of easily available things to grow well. Down below we have listed the requirements:
1. Wheat berries: Wheatgrass grows from wheat berries or seeds that have been soaked in water and are receiving the proper amount of water and sunlight. You would need around a quarter of a cup of berries to fill in an average-sized tray.
2. A large plate or bowl in which the berries would be stored, soaked in water.
3. A colander to dry out the berries and to let them germinate.
4. Two translucent containers. These are the containers where your plants would grow. It is preferable to use two containers as that helps in keeping the plants clean. However, one container also works just fine. In case you are using two of them make sure one container sits inside another. Make holes at the bottom of this container to provide the roots of the plants’ access to water.
How to Grow Wheatgrass at Home without Soil?
After you have arranged the things you will require, the next thing to do is to get started with the process of growing wheatgrass indoors without soil. Growing a plant without soil, on the water is known as the hydroponic method of cultivation. We have made a list of everything you need to do in a step by step manner. Take a look:
Step 1: Soaking the seeds in water
Place the wheat seeds in the bowl and soak it in water for about 8 to 12 hours. This step is necessary for the seeds to absorb some moisture and loosen up which prepares them for germination. This is an absolutely vital step without which the seeds may not germinate at all.
Step 2: Transfer the seeds to a colander
After your seeds have absorbed significant moisture and have been soaked properly, transfer them to a colander and leave them there for about 48 hours during which they will germinate. At this stage, they will germinate and start growing into the grass. During the first day, you will notice that the seeds have started germinating.
After this, you will have to leave them in the colander for another day so that the sprouting intensifies. Keep washing the seeds during this stage to make sure that they do not get dehydrated. This can simply be done by placing the colander with the seeds under a source of running water.
Step 3: Shifting the germinating seeds into the container
After your seeds have started germinating transfer them to the container where they are to grow. If you are using two containers, place the container with holes inside the other container. Fill the larger container with water and put the seeds on the upper container, crowded together. The roots developed from the seeds would reach out to the tray with water through the holes at the bottom of this container. Being kept in a dense manner creates a strong network of roots that help them support each other, making up for the absence of soil.
This process can work well even if you use a single tray or container. In that case, just put the seeds on the bottom of the container, densely packed together and cover-up with water. However, using a different for storing the water gives you the scope of changing the water regularly which boosts the growth of the plants and keeps them clean.
The nutrients required for the growth of the grass is provided for by the wheat seeds in the absence of soil.
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Step 4: Providing Light
After your sprouting seeds have been placed in the required container, they require light. Wheatgrass requires a significant amount of light, with at least 4 to 5 hours of moderate sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight and scorching heat at all costs.
There are two prevalent ways of introducing the wheatgrass to sunlight. One way is to put them directly udder sun right after you have put them in their container. Another method would be to let the seeds rest in a dark, damp environment, preferably covered with a thick cloth or towel for a day or two before introducing them to sunlight.
Our recommendation would be to use the first method as even though the first method guarantees that the grasses grow taller before functioning as leaves, the first method boosts up their growth, kick-starting the process of photosynthesis, turning the grass green.
The container should remain in a well-lit area until you harvest the grass.
Step 5: Watering for the plants and caring
Wheatgrass needs a lot of water to grow healthily. You need to keep watering them every day, once, or if possible, twice. In case you are using two containers to grow wheatgrass, change the water regularly, and provide fresh water.
In order to prevent your plants from mold formation on the seeds or the grass, use a solution of baking soda and water, with 2 tablespoon baking soda in every liter of water, as a spray. Use this spray on your plants at least once a day to keep your plants immune from molds and fungi.
After completing the process of planting the wheatgrass seeds, all you can do is take good care of the plants. After about 10 to 12 days your plants should be ready for harvesting. You can cut them and juice them as per your requirements, every day or you can harvest them all at once and freeze them in a zip bag for future use.
It is advisable to keep planting a fresh batch of the wheat seeds every time you harvest one batch.
Is it Better to Grow Wheatgrass with or without Soil?
Now that you know that wheatgrass can easily grow without soil as a medium, you must be wondering which method of growing wheatgrass is better- in soil, or without soil. The answer is, there is no right or wrong way to do this, and no one way is necessarily better than the other. You should make the choice on the basis of your specific situation and requirements.
Using soil for wheatgrass cultivation is not necessary. The roots of these plants are strong enough to anchor each other, and the nourishment needed can be provided for by the seed and the chemical process of photosynthesis. Not using soil takes the mess away from any gardening activity, and many gardeners would vouch for this opportunity. A little patch of your wheatgrass sitting by the windowsill, on a tray also makes for a beautiful scenario. Besides, this method also saves you the cost of expensive gardening soil and manure.
However, despite the apparent benefits many gardeners believe using soil to be a way better method. Without the use of soils, the wheatgrass plants have way less nutrients than the ones that are grown in soil. If this rich in nutrients plant loses its nutritional value, what purpose will it serve?
The nutrients stored in the seed are enough for the plants as long as its root network is not formed completely. However, after that the plant needs to take in nutrients and minerals from the soil to have a healthy growth. After the leaves have taken their shape and the plants begin photosynthesis this requirement is intensified.
The process of draining the containers, cleaning them and preparing them for every batch of wheatgrass can be a tedious task, too. In soil these plants can easily form roots and grow on their own, making it hassle free for the gardener. Besides, with a plant that harvests too quickly, using any cheap and easily available potting mix or soil can do the trick.
Although there can be no one correct way or doing this, we would recommend the use of soil. These highly beneficial plants with such high medicinal value can be best utilized when they are full of nutrients. Use a pot or a small container filled with soil to cultivate the plants indoors and save yourself all the trouble and confusion. However, if this is not suitable in your situation, the hydroponic method will also work fine.