How to grow wheatgrass – the step by step guide

Photo of Blades of wheatgrass

The good news with growing wheatgrass is that it can pretty much grow anywhere and the conditions don’t always have to be perfect. You will need to outlay around $100 to get you started which will include the cost of the juicer, the wheatgrass trays, soil, fertilizers, soaking containers and butchers paper.

In order to get you set up you will first need to buy a juicer. I strongly suggest the manual press juicers as these are small and easy to take on the road with you. Wheatgrass juicers are readily available online and come in plastic or stainless steel designs. I personally have the plastic juicer and this has worked fine for me – however I broke my first one and had to buy another ~ more on that later!

I purchased the wheatgrass trays from Bunnings Warehouse (Australia) however you can get these from a number of hardware or garden centres and are pretty much just seedling trays. They are relatively cheap and if you are growing wheatgrass inside then you may want to consider some kind of drip tray underneath.

There a number of soils that you can purchase for your wheatgrass however the trick here is to not go overboard. Unlike growing seedlings that take time to mature such as kale or tomato, you only need to have the wheatgrass in the soil for a small amount of time. As a result you can get away with a cheaper soil or seedling mix. What I do is actually mix peat moss, a coco peat brick and soil mixture together which creates a great base for wheatgrass. Again you don’t have to do this but if you are interested the ratio is pretty much 1:2:5 of Peat Moss, Coco Brick and Soil. Other growers suggest only growing wheatgrass using coco peat as it is great in retaining water. However if you decide to only grow wheatgrass using coco peat then I strongly suggest using a good organic fertilizer to ensure that your grass gets the nutrients it needs. Coco peat is relatively cheap and once you add warm water to the brick it makes up around 9-10 litres worth. I personally have a few of these at home and as mentioned above mix this with other soils. However the idea is that you make this process as easy as possible. In doing so you will be more likely to continue production, continue juicing and will find it easier to drink wheatgrass every day.

Now that you have purchased your supplies let’s get started!

Step1

The first thing you need to do is soak your seedlings. The time that you need to soak your seeds for varies depending on the season. During the warmer months you will only need to soak your seeds for 12 hours. However during cooler months you should soak your seeds for around 18-24 hours. I suggest if you are just starting out to try different times and see what works for you. In order to produce a tray of wheatgrass I use a single cup of seeds and soak this in an airtight container. It is important to note that you will need a larger container as the seeds will almost double in size.

Step2

Once you have let your seeds soak overnight you will need to pour these out into a strainer and rinse the seeds. After rinsing the seeds you will need to leave them in the strainer for around 12 hours. During this time ensure that the seeds do not dry out. I tend to give them another rinse if I feel that they are beginning to dry. After the 12 hours you will notice that the seeds look a little different. They should have a little point at one of the ends of the seed. This is a good sign as it shows that the seed is germinating. Do NOT leave the seeds in your strainer for more than 18 hours. If you do your seeds will germinate and begin to grow roots through the strainer (believe me I have been lazy and have done this many times!). However if you do leave them for too long, don’t throw them away as you can still grow some amount of wheatgrass from them.

Step3

Now you need to get your trays ready. You will need to line your tray with butchers paper and then fill the tray with your soil to a depth of around 1-2cms. Using at least 2cms is good if you decide to let your wheatgrass grow back for a second time, as it allows the root system grow stronger. I tend to press the soil down as I find it allows the seeds to spread evenly over the surface – again this is up to you.

Once you have prepared the tray you will need to spread the seeds evenly over the surface. Try not to stack them on top of each other as this will lead to slow growth and mould forming on them. However at times this is easier said than done – the key is to just try to spread them evenly over the surface. If you use a standard tray the seeds should evenly cover the surface of the soil ensuring that all soil is covered.

Now that you have evenly spread the seeds over the surface you need to place another piece of butchers paper over the seedlings and then soak the tray. I suggest doing this outside as you really need to give them a good soak. Those of you living in an apartment – you can always soak these and leave them on the kitchen sink or alternatively soak them in the shower and leave them to drain. The trick here is to not soak them too hard. By this I mean don’t blast the top of the wheatgrass with the hose. If you soak them hard then the seeds may fall too deep in the soil and as a result germination and growth may take longer. Instead try using the mist setting on a hose and soak lightly! Alternatively, if you find that your seeds are well germinated you can simply place the butcher’s paper on top and just spray the butchers paper until the paper is fully wet. The good news is that the hard work is done. I suggest leaving your wheatgrass in a shady area and try to avoid full sun. If you place your wheatgrass in a fully sunny area then it is likely that your tray will dry out. Also try to put the wheatgrass in an area where there is some breeze. The reason for this is I have found that it helps in reducing excess mold from forming around the seedling. The real catch 22 here is that too much breeze will try out the seeds and too little, well – hello mold. Try different locations and you will ultimately find that sweet spot where wheatgrass will grow at its best.

Step4

Ensure that over the next 2-3 days your seeds receive plenty of water. In saying that, don’t go gun ho and soak them several times through the day. I like to ensure that the paper is moist most of the time. This could be a quick spray throughout the day and just test the soil. A good test is to touch the soil and see how it feels. If the soil feels dry then you should give your tray a quick spray. The reality of the situation is we often work long hours and we don’t have all the time in the world to occasionally spray the tray as we leisurely walk by. If this sounds more like you then I suggest giving them a quick spray in the morning and then a good soaking at night. You can try this in the reverse order however I am not a morning person so it is quicker for me at 5:30am to give them a quick spray as I wait for the clothes iron to heat up.

After the first few days you will notice that the seedlings have grown to around 1-2cms in height and may even start pressing through the butchers paper. This means that it is time to remove the butchers paper from the tray. Don’t throw this away – although it may look it as crinkly as your toes after a long warm bath, it would still make a great base for your next tray of wheatgrass. However if the paper is really damaged then you may want to consider this worm food – literally (more on this later)

Step5

Feel free to add this step. It is not 100% essential but I do recommend it. At the 3-4 day period your wheatgrass will start to grow dramatically and it is at this point that I suggest fertilizing your wheatgrass. I use an organic worm juice fertilizer on my wheatgrass however the choice is up to you. Again – do what works for you. If you would like to learn more about worm farming and using worm juice on your wheatgrass then see my page on worm farming for wheatgrass for a crash course on worm farming. As I work roughly 13-15 hours a day I can ensure you that this is a fast and low maintenance task.

Step6

I would love to write a set day on when your wheatgrass will be ready to juice but it will differ depending on a lot of factors such as climate, humidity, amount of water and fertilizers. However as an estimate I would say that the juice should be ready between 7-10 days or when your wheatgrass reaches a height of approximately 20-25cms – measuring from the base of the tray. At this point your wheatgrass will look great – dark green at the perfect height and ready to juice – Enjoy!