Whether the snow is still blowing outside or your spring
bulbs are already making their appearance, garden fever
is in the air. One way to quench your need to get your
hands dirty is to bring spring indoors by growing your
own living decorations. Many gardeners are familiar
with forcing cherry, forsythia blossoms & and spring
bulbs but you can add to this by sprouting wheat kernels
in containers for a beautiful centerpiece. In France,
sprouted wheat is a symbol of the abundance of the upcoming
season. March 21st, the first day of spring, also coincides
with Norooz, Iranian New Year. Part of the celebration
requires that green sprouts, normally wheat, decorate
the table setting. The wheat sprouts symbolize the re-birth
of the nature as spring emerges in the northern hemisphere.
Growing your own wheat sprouts is not only decorative,
but also highly nutritional. Wheatgrass is full of vitamins,
minerals and amino acids. The juice is reported to have
many health benefits due to the high concentration of
chlorophyll, Vitamins B-12, B-6, K & C, and beta-carotene.
One study from the University of Texas Medical Center
found the extract of wheatgrass inhibited the cancer-causing
effects of two mutagens.
Choose a container
Sprouting your own wheatgrass is extremely easy. Any
type of container is suitable for sprouting wheatgrass.
Pots that have drainage holes are the easiest to use
for beginner sprouters but once you get a handle on
how much water wheat sprouts require, you can sprout
them in any container that is at least 3-4" deep.
I've found dollar stores to be a fantastic source of
decorative containers that won't break my pocketbook.
Select a growing medium
Once you've decided on a container, fill it to about
1" below the top of the rim with pre-moistened
soil, compost or potting mix. Make that sure whatever
growing medium you use, it doesn't contain any artificial
fertilizers or chemicals. I like to make my own organic
mix using peat and about 20% worm casts. The worm casts
provide extra nutrition, allowing you to harvest the
wheatgrass more than once.
Plant the seed
Wheat seed is the last ingredient. Purchase your wheat
from a reputable source that sells food-grade organic
seed that is meant for sprouting. Never use agricultural
seed, especially any seed that is coated with fungicide.
Wheat seeds are sometimes sold as wheat "kernels"
or as "Hard Red Wheat".
Sprinkle the top of your container with wheat seed.
I like to leave a little bit of space between the seeds,
so that they're not touching and competing for food.
Press the seed into the soil and then cover lightly
with more potting mix or soil and water lightly. The
soil in the container needs to be kept moist so I like
to cover my containers with a clear plastic bag or clear
In about 3-4 days, you will begin to see sprouts emerge.
It's now time to move the container to a sunny location.
Sunshine not only allows the young sprouts to manufacture
more chlorophyll, but it helps to keep them stocky and
short. Wheatgrass grown in the dark or in poorly lit
areas tends to be quite pale and lanky and in no time
at all, the sprouts begin to fall over.
By about day 7-10, the sprouts are the perfect height
to use as a centerpiece or to begin harvesting for juice.
Wheatgrass grown using this method can be cut more than
once for an extended harvest so if you are using it
for juice, start a few containers on different days
so that you have a continuous supply of the nutritious
For more information on sprouting wheatgrass, try these
City Farmer http://www.cityfarmer.org/sprout86.html
Terra Viva Organics - Organic wheat and other sprouting
Wheatgrass Nature's Finest Medicine by Steve Meyerowitz
The Wheatgrass Book by Ann Wigmore
Arzeena Hamir is an agronomist and garden
writer based in Vancouver, BC.