Watching Grass Grow and Turning Grass into Juice

If there is anything more exciting than watching grass grow, it’s reading about watching grass grow, right? I successfully turned seeds into grass and into juice and I am very proud of myself, so I wanted to share.

I come from farmers. My mother is from Kansas, and my grandfather and most of my mother’s cousins grew up on farms. I am almost 80% Irish and Scottish (thanks Ancestry for highlighting how very white I am), and my ancestors were likely farmers. However, my father is from Boston and I was raised in the burbs, and I cannot grow mold. I have killed MANY a houseplant. I have killed both rosemary and basil plants. I do not have a green thumb.

However, I have time on my hands, and while already healthy, #COVIDQuarantine has put me on a SUPER health kick! I decided what better way to spend my time and money than growing wheat grass?!?!? It is very healthy, after all, and among other things, is meant to reverse grey hair. Score!!! More importantly, it is a good source of micro-nutrients, boosts immunity, is good for the skin, is good for digestion and gut health and more. I have been using it in the powder form along with other microgreens for years, but only had it fresh on a few occasions. I figured, how hard can grass be to grow??

I did some googling and bought a kit from True Leaf Market. (As we have already established, I will not help Mr. Bezos grow richer, so this did not come from his company.) I can tend to be a “go big or go home,” type of person, so I bought the super deluxe kit, which came with barley, wheat and sunflower seeds…for like an army. The below represents one of five sets of seeds, soil and trays that I got.

If you read my blog, you know that I am a big fan of smoothies. My thought was that I would throw the grass into my Ninja and boost up my smoothies. Well, as it turns out, that is a terrible idea. I did some research and learned that humans are not cows. We do not have that second stomach thing that allows them to chew and re-chew their grass and to digest cellulose. We humans cannot eat grass. A little won’t hurt us, but maybe on a daily basis our stomach would just get full of it, so I decided I needed to buy a juicer. I did a lot of research on those and just could not justify the cost of an electric one. I found this one on Ebay because it was sold out on True Leaf, so I got it new in the box for $100. Score because I LOVE second hand!

Once it arrived, I was ready to start growing. I was getting conflicting information on how much to put in the tray, but one source said one pound of seed per tray. I am sure it gave a size of tray, but I am bad about details like that, so I just figured, “a tray is a tray, right?” I don’t know.

DAY ONE, Saturday

Anyway, I had to soak the seeds in water first, so I weighed out 1/3 lb. of each of my three seeds and soaked them in water. They soaked for about 8 hours. I was pretty smart to start this process in the morning. This is what reading ahead in the directions teaches you.

The next step was to plant the seeds. The soil goes in one tray, which has holes in it, and it sits in another tray without holes. You are supposed to moisten the soil, but I missed that part and just put the drained seeds on top of the soil. I then read the organic fertilizer bag, and it said 1/4 cup per “tray” (again with that unspecific size!) can be sprinkled on top. Then you cover the fertilized seeds with a wet paper towel. At this point, I realized I had failed to moisten the soil, so I put some water in the bottom tray and then spritzed the top pretty heavily. The tray with what I assumed would be a future tray of moldy seeds was then put, as directed, in a dark space. I used a closet. I also read you could cover them with another tray to keep them damp, so I did that.

The seeds seemed REALLY tightly packed together, which is what made me ponder, “does one size tray fit all?” I said goodnight to them and closed the door.

DAY TWO, Sunday
Imagine my surprise when I woke up to this!

I was like, this is magic!!! I diligently sprizted three times a day and kept them covered and in the dark.

DAY THREE & FOUR, Monday & Tuesday

A bit more progress. and they fully sprouted!!! I kept covering with wet paper towels and spritzing three times a day and then covering again with the lid and closing the door. I did see mold, but it wasn’t too bad.

DAY FIVE, WEDNESDAY

When I opened the lid Wednesday morning, I am not kidding when I tell you that I jumped and exclaimed “Oh my god!” out loud in my empty apartment because I was so startled by what I saw. It was nuts the progress overnight!

At this point, it was time to move them to the sun to soak up the chloryphyll and turn green. I still had my doubts that this ws going to work. My laundry room is open air, with a big screened open window that gets indirect light and a breeze all day and the room is white, so I figure it reflects too. I put them there in the morning and by that afternoon, they were already green!

They say to stop spritzing and water the soil at this point. I did have some mold, and I read that you can mix the fertilizer in water and water with that to cut the mold, so I that’s what I did.

DAY SIX, THURSDAY

The grass and sprouts were growing like weeds! It was fun to see the dew on the blades in the morning. I watered with the fertilizer water each morning and let them be.

DAY SEVEN, FRIDAY

I was wondering when the grass was ready. What I read was that too early=bitter and too late=bitter, so I needed to find “just right.” I read anywhere from 5-10 inches for the grasses and the sprouts just needed to sprout out of their seed pods. It was not very sunny on Thursday and Friday; in fact it was super overcast, so the light was very filtered, and maybe the grass didn’t get as green as it could. There was no noticeable difference except the grass was taller.

DAY EIGHT, SATURDAY

How beautiful is this????

It was like 6-8 inches tall and growing so fast that I was worried that another day would be too much. I read that you need to juice and drink the grasses immediately. They do not recommend juicing and refrigerating or even freezing. You are also not supposed to drink more than an ounce at a time. This was going to be a problem.

I did read that you can put the whole tray in the fridge to stop the growth. I do not have room for that though. I also read that you can cut the grass and sprouts and store them for a week in the fridge, so I decided to do that.

Because I am not always too clever, I did not mark which was the wheat and which the barley. One blade is thicker and flatter and one is thinner and rounder. I wanted to see if it was ready and test out the juicer, so I cut a bunch of the fatter one. (The sunflower sprouts were in the middle and distinctly different.)

MAKING THE JUICE

I read some reviews of the juicer that made it sound like a super odious task. It takes a lot of cranks, but it isn’t that bad since you only want an ounce. On my first attempt, I had not tightened it down enough to the counter and catastrophe followed.

Luckily, I didn’t lose that much juice, and it didn’t all spill, so I could taste it. It was so surprisingly sweet! I was meeting a friend for our Saturday morning walk, and I had been hoping to bring her a shot, but instead I left the disaster and decided to come back to it later.

After my walk and breakfast, I went ahead and harvested almost all of the rest since what I tasted earlier was not bitter at all. I put some of each of the grasses aside to make juice and some of the sprouts to eat today. I left some to cut fresh and taste tomorrow. I washed the grass right before juicing it by just putting it in a bowl of filtered water.

And then I attempted to juice again, but made sure it was super secure! Here is the fast motion version:

I found that I would crank it one way and then if I went back a bit and then forward again, it moved along. It got hard as it got towards the end. The green snake of fiber that comes out is hilarious!!! This gives you a better idea of what it’s like:

I also should have juiced and tasted them each first before cutting it all because while the one that is thicker is very sweet, the one that is thinner is bitter. Maybe what I left uncut will be sweeter tomorrow. I just mixed them together and shot it down and it was fine; it was about 1- 1.5 oz. Also, important to note that I definitely do not want all that indigestible fiber in my tummy!

I left a bit of each in the tray, so I can see how they each taste tomorrow. This much will hopefully make two ounces, so I can share it with my neighbor!

EATING THE SPROUTS

The sprouts can be eaten, juiced or put in smoothies. I washed them in a bowl of water and plucked off the seed capsule at the end. I put them in a salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber, salt/pepper and EEOO/balsamic. They are crisp and fresh and taste like spring! They are actually a good source of protein, so while I love feta on my salad, without it, this is a vegan salad that includes protein, fat and other nutrients, so it’s more filling. Paired with the avocado, it was quite a satisfying salad, and since I try to reduce my refined flour intake, but I have not cut it out totally, I also had a slice of bakery-fresh grain bread with almond butter for dessert. Perfect lunch!

I gave a bunch of sprouts to my neighbor, and I put the rest wrapped in a paper towel in a zip-close baggie in the fridge along with the grass, which I figure is about a week’s worth of juiceable grass.

DAY NINE, SUNDAY

I cut the last of the grass to see if another day of growth changed the taste. It hadn’t. I also watered again. The grass will grow back, actually, it grew already overnight!

I read mixed reviews about whether it is as good the second growth, but I’m gonna go for it and see. I don’t really want to do a new tray each week. The idea now is to let this tray grow again, while I use those in the fridge. Next week, I can harvest this, and then I think mix this soil with a new bag of soil and use that to grow the next round. I really should compost, but the idea of worms in my apartment is a bit more than I can handle! The grass uses the nutrients of the soil, so you can’t use it over and over, but I’m thinking that I can let the old plants compost a bit and mixed with new soil, hopefully it will be okay. I also did not need a whole bag of soil as it turned out per tray. It will be a continuing learning process…goodness knows I am not running out of seeds anytime soon!

DAY 15, SATURDAY

I let the grass regrow during week and watered it each morning with some of the fertilizer since there was mold at the roots. This is what it looked like after a week of growth:

You can see that more sprouts came up in the middle so I snipped the rest of them. There seem to be a lot of unsprouted seeds and I think it’s because they were too crowded.

One of the grasses grew back more than the other. You can see some yellow at the base and there is definitely some mold. I decided that this tray had lived its best life, and it was time to let it go. I cut all the grass and put it wrapped in a damp paper towel with the grass I still had left and stuck it in the fridge. It should last me about a week.

My old, washed up tray:

Goodbye, my friend. I thank you for the gifts you have given me and now I turn you over.

My laundry room is now a literal mudroom. I need to figure out what to do with the mess of sod that I turned out of the trays. For now, it’s chillin’.

LESSONS LEARNED

When I do start my next trays, I plan to:

  • Use less soil.
  • Dampen the soil and mix the fertilizer in the soil rather than sprinkling on top (it was on the outside of the sunflower pods, so not all that helpful!)
  • Put fewer of all of the seeds per tray. This was really dense and based on what I saw when I cut it down, I think the crowding kept some seeds from sprouting, especially the sunflower. It is also going to be hard to use it all before it goes bad.
  • Mark the wheat and barley, so I know which is which and grown them alone together in one tray with a gap in the middle. I like the idea of mixed juice, but one may need to grow a day longer than the other based on the taste today.
  • Grow the sunflower sprouts in a separate tray.
  • Let the grasses grow a couple of days longer to see if sweeter.

DRINKING THE JUICE AND EATING THE SPROUTS

I have eaten sprouts every day either in a smoothie and/or on salad. I will be hard-pressed to finish them before they go bad, so growing in smaller quantity may be necessary. I don’t mind them; they don’t have a lot of flavor and have a nice crunch. They would be good on a sandwich, but I haven’t done that yet. I think I just need to grow less at a time.

I have had juice every morning this week. It really only adds 5-minutes on to my morning routine. I drink it before even my lemon water. I don’t love it, but it’s just a shot. Sometimes I add some coconut water to make it more palatable.

I am very aware of my body and its systems and pretty in-tune to what it needs and what it is doing. Not to be gross, but I can tell you that this has definitely had a detoxifying effect on my digestive track. It is amazing that such a small amount of a juice that has no fiber left can be so effective, but it has been. This has not been unpleasant or uncomfortable, so I think it is only a good thing. I feel lighter and my tummy feels really flat. This is saying something since this week I went through PMS and started my period, so I normally feel bloated and uncomfortable, but this week I felt great and, now that I think about it, I didn’t even have all the cravings I normally do. Cannot possibly say if it is connected, but it is an interesting observation.

I need to start a new tray, but I’ll be away for a few days and then back and then away for two weeks, so this is not the moment to start the process anew. When I am back for awhile in December, I will start the next round!

By the time I finish with this harvest, it will have been two weeks of drinking it daily, so the next time you see me I will have the glow of eternal youth and vitality!

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