Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wheat Grass

Juicing has been a part of my life for about ten years.  I started out with a Vitamix blender, and worked my way up from there.  Occasionally, I fell out of the juicing lifestyle and reverted back to unhealthy habits of eating, but then my body would react in some way and I would return to juicing to regain my health.  I have owned a variety of juicing machines, and they have all had some weak spot and a strong feature.

Currently I own a Breville fountain juicer and am satisfied with it for most my juicing needs.  It is easy to clean, and has a very powerful motor.  The only drawback to it is that it can not juice grasses such as wheat grass.  Wheat grass is one of the best complete microgreens you can consume.  It can be up to 20 times more nutrient rich per ounce than other vegetables.  Most people only drink an ounce or two a day to get the full benefits from it.  Juicing the grass is simple if you have the correct equipment such as a hand cranked augur style juicer.  Unfortunately, I have fairly bad carple tunnel and have been forced to buy the electric version.  I got the 8005 Omega juicer, and the wheat grass kit that is bundled with it.

Getting into juicing wheat grass has been more time intensive than I expected.  If I would have spent a lot more money I could have bought all the items, but instead I wanted to try to do this more cost effectively and do some of the constructing myself.  To juice wheat grass you need to either buy the grass at the store frequently, or grow it yourself.  I prefer not to rely on stores and deal with crowds when ever possible, so I chose to grow it at my house.  I already had metal racks that I was using to hold useless nicknacks, so I cleared those off and bought some really cheap work lights at a local hardware store.  I bought the T8 version lights which are more economical and energy efficient.  The stats on the bulbs were:  Phillips Soft White for Kitchen and Bath, 32 Watts, 48" long, T8, 2950 lumens, 30,000 hour life span, 85 color rendering index, and 3000K temperature.  I couldn't find any specific "grow" lights at the store I was at, but these stats are fairly similar. Once I mounted three four foot long lights in the rack, I prepared the growing trays and seeds.



The trick is to have enough seeds, seed trays, and places to grow them, so you can constantly rotate the crop.  One seed tray should be enough for around a week of juicing.  It takes about a week to grow a crop, but since I am new at this I am going to play this by ear.

If your interested in growing wheatgrass at your home, go to www.wheatgrasskits.com and get a starter kit.  It comes with trays for the seeds to grow in, soil, instructions, and seeds.  I also received a book with my kit titled Wheatgrass, Sprouts, Microgreens, and the Living Food Diet by Living Whole Foods, inc.  I recommend you buy it if your thinking of juicing wheat grass.  In it they listed 40 benefits to juicing Wheatgrass, here are a few:
  1. Wheatgrass juice is a superior detoxification agent compared to carrot juice and other fruits and vegetables.  Dr. Earp-Thomas...says that 15 pounds of wheatgrass is the equivalent of 350 pounds of carrot, lettuce, celery, and so forth.
  2. Chlorophyll is anti-bacterial and can be used inside and outside the body as a healer.
  3. Chlorophyll can be extracted from many plants, but wheatgrass is superior because it has been found to have over 100 elements needed by man.  If grown in organic soil, it absorbs 92 of the known 102 minerals from the soil.
  4. Dr. Ann Wigmore has been helping people get well from chronic disorders for thirty years using wheat grass.
  5. Liquid chlorophyll gets into the tissues, vitalizes and refines them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Seedlings

The seeds I planted six days ago have began sprouting out of the soil.  I am very pleased with the seedling greenhouse I purchased, because it is low maintenance and highly effective.  The Chive seedlings have grown about an inch and look like twigs with no leaves.  The Curled Parsley is taking it's time to germinate, but I expect them to sprout out of the soil in the next week.

The Sweet Basil seedlings are pictured above.

Three weeks of growth and still strong, the Cilantro seedlings pictured below will be planted in my garden soon.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gardening Time Again

Now that I have moved into a bit nicer and roomier place with a larger backyard, I have decided to get into gardening.  I have grown a few plants, and unfortunately watched them die before their time.  Lessons have been learned though, and books have been read, videos watched, and I am ready to give it another go.

At the moment I have a spider plant, an ivy, and a peanut plant growing in my backyard.  There are also a few weeds I have let grow because they aren't that hard on the eyes, and provide some shelter to the insects that I will eventually need to introduce to my garden.  My mother has been very supportive by giving me plants, pots, and seeds to play around with.  I bought some organic potting mix, lime, and organic fertilizer, and a City Pickers growing container as well.

I have six different varieties of seeds that I have planned on planting this year.  All of them seem to require full sun to partial shade, and my backyard gets that for the most part.  There is a brick wall and a few trees that will block the sun a bit.  Most likely the plants will get between 6-9 hours of sun each day at least.

Below is a list of the plants I am planting:

Common Name Species Size & Hrs Light
Sweet Basil Ocimum basilicum 18W x 30H 6-8
Curled Parsley Petroselinum cripum 18W x 18H 4-6
Cilantro Coriandrum sativum 10W x 24H 4-6
Chives Cebollin 12W x 18H 4-6
Daisy May Queen Chrysanthemum leucanthemum 24"W x 36"H
Sunflower dwarf Helianthus annuus 36"H 

The herbs should be planted about 1/4" deep in the soil, while the daisies shouldn't be under any soil, and the sunflowers should be 2" deep in the soil.  At the moment they are all in small clay or paper pots, and I am waiting for them to germinate.  It has been about three days since I planted them.  It may take a couple weeks for the seeds to begin visibly growing.



I have been watering them once a day, but after some research today I discovered it is much easier to use a seed starting system with an enclosed hood.  Some people recommend using heat pads and grow lights as well, and as a result I am considering dropping more cash into this hobby.  My ultimate goal is to get good enough to grow my own food from my backyard.  

In regards to the grow lights, I read this:
Target absorption wavelengths for efficient Photosynthesis (chlorophyll A & B) in is around the 600-700nm(red) and 400-500nm(Blue) anything outside of these bands are typically of little use for green plants.
 HQRP makes a LED grow light built to these specs: http://hqrp.com/led-lighting/led-grow-lights/hqrp-14w-225-led-blue-red-spectrum-hydroponic-plant-grow-light-panel-lamp.html
After using this lamp to grow seedlings I can attest that it works, but it is best that seedlings get regular sunlight instead.  I place them in a seedling container and set them on the ground near sprinklers when possible.

Gardner's Supply also make a seed starting product that is self contained, and easy to adapt to different seed types.  http://www.gardeners.com/Deep-Root-Seed-Starting-Kit/35-657RS,default,pd.html

Using both of these products will increase the odds of seeds germinating, and also increase their speed at growing once they do develop roots.

Another bit of information that is important to gather is the growing zone I am in.  This will help me to determine what information applies to me and my zone, and which does not.  Often you will read a blog or article on a gardening site that recommends a growing technique, or a particular schedule to plant in, and then at the end of the article mention that it was advice for people growing in a zone of the country that has completely different temperatures and soil.  According to the USDA I am in a more temperate part of the country.  The zip code look up indicated: Zone 10a : 30 to 35 (F)


On https://www.grangettos.com/main/veggie-guide.html I was advised on planting the below vegetables this spring:
basil, beans, beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, corn, cucumber, dill, egg plant, green bunching onions, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, peppers, radish, spinach, strawberries, squash, sunflower, swiss chard, tomatoes, thyme