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Growing Grass: Part 3

The sprouted seeds are tall enough to go into the sun now. I’ve found that it’s better to water lightly twice a day rather than heavily once.

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One of the most important things about growing barley is air circulation. If you put a small fan in the general area of your growing grass, it pretty much eliminates any chance of having moldy grass. As long as you have good air circulation, you don’t have to worry about mold–and this is coming from a person who has grown a lot of moldy grass in their time!

There are natural products you can buy that are supposed to help eliminate mold, but, in my experience, none of them worked as well as this tiny, cheap, quiet fan. It’s probably been over two years since I’ve seen the slightest hint of mold in my growing grasses.

In a few days (wheatgrass grows fast in the summer), I’ll be ready to cut and juice! Juicing wheat/barley grass is a different process than juicing veggies so I’ll try to be very thorough.

If any of this seems intimidating, it shouldn’t. Once you go through this process a few times, it becomes second nature. I don’t even have to think when I do it. Plus, a tray of growing wheat/barley grass created negative ions that improve the air quality in your home and looks way cooler and more sophisticated than flowers or typical houseplants!

Things that didn’t work for me

While my wheatgrass is growing, I wanted to start a series of posts about things I’ve tried that have not worked for me at all, despite the almost exclusively positive reviews and information I found when I researched them. If I had come across more varied opinions, maybe I would have been prepared for such a negative result. So this is an attempts to help those who resemble past me at the various stages of my pursuit for better health. This is not to say you absolutely shouldn’t try these things. If you do, I sincerely hope your experience is better than mine. The point is, you will be hard pressed to find anything very negative about them, and I hope my experience will make you hesitate a second before jumping on the bandwagon.

First, Diatomaceous Earth. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll probably be convinced this is a miraculous substance that will cure you of any ailment you could possibly have from brittle nails to intestinal parasites. Plus, it has about a thousand household uses. It kills insects, deworms your pets, and can even be used to polish silver! It’s cheap, comes in large bags that will last forever and will never spoil. Have I sold you on it yet?

 

My experience

I really wanted this to be all it was cracked up to be. Me and my mother ingested this product religiously for months. It never did anything at all for her. I wasn’t so lucky. I know this sounds crazy, but after taking it for a few weeks I began to feel depressed for no reason and strangely mentally unstable. I never get depressed, and it was a weird, hard to describe feeling–not like the typical blues. I thought this was some strange coincidence, but I quit taking it and then started again three of four times and the effect was always exactly the same. I have no explanation for this.

I thought, as you are probably thinking, that this was some sort of cleansing effect, but I forced myself to take Diatomaceous Earth pretty consistently for nearly a year. the effect didn’t change or lessen at all. I hate that I put myself through that, thinking that it was going to eventually work some sort of cleansing miracle for me.

You may think I must have got a contaminated batch from a questionable company, but I bought from two different companies that I did massive research on. They are supposed to be of the highest quality there is. The disturbing effect was the same no matter which one I took and both were equally ineffective for my mother.

I also tried to use this product for killing bugs. I don’t have carpet and you can’t really use this stuff on hardwood (I admit I should have realized that before I bought it). I tried using it on rugs, underneath furniture, and in the mattress, but that was a huge mess and had no effect on the swarms of various bugs that are a part of living in the south. My pets hated it when I used to periodically rub it all over their coats. And they looked ridiculous– like they had been rolling around in white flour. There was a huge mess all over the floor each time I attempted this, and it didn’t stop the fleas. I tried sprinkling it into their food, but my extremely picky pets never touched it.

So think long and hard before you try this. You might end up with two massive bags of useless white powder sitting under your bed for all eternity.

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I have been mixing it into the soil for my houseplants, and I’m going to try to make chalk paint with it so I guess I can’t say it’s been entirely useless…

Growing Grass: part 2

After I drained my seed, I sprouted them for two days until the sprouter was about three-fourths full, then filled my growing tray with about an inch of soil.

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The next few steps

  1. Spread seeds over the soil
  2. Pour about a cup of water over the seeds
  3. Cover seeds with paper towels & saturate

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You can place another tray on top of the paper towels to keep them moisture in and light out. Sprouts need moisture and darkness to grow. You have to make sure that the paper towels don’t dry out for the next two or three days by spraying them down a couple of times a day.

It’s also a good idea to put an extra tray under as well as on top of your sprouts. This will catch any dripping from overwatering. If you don’t do this, you might end up with puddles of water under your tray. This used to happen to me all the time, and it drove me crazy! But doubling up trays has completely solved the problem.

side note– I use recycled, chemical free paper towels. They are way too expensive to use for any other purpose, but one roll will last forever (seriously, months!) when used exclusively for sprouting grass seeds. Some people use newspaper, but I just can’t get on board with that. Typical paper towels are fine, but I’d rather not take any chance of chemicals or dyes leaching into my organic seeds/soil.

Anyways, I’ll update when my sprouts are tall enough.

 

Growing grass

“Food can be the greatest form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” – Anne Wigmore


As previously mentioned wheatgrass is pretty much the only thing I have the ability to grow. Learning to grow it is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health. But it wasn’t the easiest venture. It took about two years of experimentation for and research to be able to grow grass that wasn’t moldy or too short to be worth juicing.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who has had such a harrowing experience, but I’ll go through the steps as I grow my next tray and share what I’ve learned over the years.

Why grow grass?

It’s not difficult to find long lists of the possible benefits of grass juicing.  It seems like everyone is into juicing these days, but most seems to focus on basic veggies and fruits. I’ve found grass juice to be a much stronger cleansing tonic than any veggie juice (except maybe beets).  It’s also sometimes the less expensive option if you are getting into juicing. It’s WAY less expensive than the dried green powders sold in every health food store (none of which ever did anything for me).  And there is something therapeutic about growing things you will consume. We were made to touch the soil that produces our sustenance.

Need more motivation?

Here are two amazing videos about people who primarily used grass juice to achieve vibrant health..

The Wheatgrass Trucker

70-year-Old Vegan

The Downside

  • It can take some work to learn and get into a routine
  • It does not taste good. I always hold my nose and chase it with soy/almond/coconut milk (for some reason milkish products cut the aftertaste better that juice, for me at least).
  • You have to start slow or you may get a little nauseated after taking a shot. It’s the cleansing effect. The first time I drank wheatgrass, it was on an empty stomach and way more than I could handle. I ended up throwing up twice….

 

The process: Step One

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  1. The first thing you need is this sprouter. It is the best sprouter in the universe. It is by far the easiest one to use, and I love using it for soaking and sprouting juicing grasses. Before using this, I used a mason jar to soak and sprout my grass seeds (most people do)….It was always a huge mess and way more time consuming because I had to rinse it more often and more thoroughly.
  2.  The next thing you need is seeds. I mix half wheatgrass and half barley grass seeds. I don’t know if anyone else does this. I started doing it because barley grass tastes a little better than wheatgrass, but wheatgrass grows a little better and is sometimes cheaper. It’s worked out fine for me, much better than growing all one or the other. But you are free to do it however you want!
  3. Measuring is next. I had to change the amount I soak because what they say on the bag always seemed like too much, and I felt I was wasting seeds. I cut a tiny mark on my sprouter with a knife about two and a half inches from the bottom. That makes it much easier because I just pour the seeds in and don’t have to measure it each time. It comes out to about a cup (measuring cup for liquids–I always forget to use the other one).
  4. You need to fill the jar with water until the seeds are cover by about an inch of water. It soaks for six to nine hours (nine to twelve for winter). I usually just do nine or ten hours no matter what time of year it is and it works fine.

I’ll go through the next steps when my seeds are done!….

Green Thumb, Clean Air

A few months ago, I happened upon a  TED Talk called  “How To Grow Fresh Air.” It inspired me to take another stab at keeping houseplants alive. I’ve tried many times, but all attempts have been miserable failures. Instead of a green thumb, I seem to have the black thumb of death. The only plant I’ve ever been able to grow is wheatgrass..

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So I was pretty nervous growing anything else. Out of the three plants in the Ted Talk, the Money Plant, or Golden Pothos, seemed like the easiest to grow. While I was plant shopping, I noticed some with the words Plants of Steel on the tag. That seemed promising so I also picked up a plant called Zamioculcas. It isn’t one of the three in the Ted Talk, but it is still one of the best houseplants for air purification and I’m told is actually a challenge to kill.

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These plants have been an amazing success, meaning they are still alive! I even went out of town for a while and returned to them looking exactly the same. You are supposed to water them about every two weeks, but I usually forget and only do it once a month. So far, so good!

Indoor plants, especially these, create negative ions and increase oxygen levels. Plus, there is just something relaxing about being surrounded green living things–okay when I say it like that, it sounds a little creepy….

I’ve tried many air purifying gadgets in the past but always had a vague feeling that I was being ripped off. The only things I really trust to make a significant difference in air quality are indoor plants and beeswax candles.

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I usually burn a couple of these candles when I’m painting with anything I feel the least but unsure about. But I wanted something more continuous because I’m storing some old paintings (pre-green era) in my bedroom.

These plants are great! They have thrived through months of my dubious care, are pleasant to look at, and very inexpensive when compared with other purifying options.

Hairspray From Hell…

I love pastels. I love charcoal. Both are cheap, fun to use and low on the toxicity scale. These were my favorite growing up. That pretty much ended when I started taking art classes in about seventh grade. That’s when they teach you to spray all of your work with a thick layer of aerosol fixative spray. Mainstream fixative is just awful! It is highly toxic and extremely flammable. It comes in a hairspray-esque can that creates a choking mist of toxic fumes you can’t help inhaling even if you are outside and holding the can as far away from you as possible–obviously I speak from experience…

But it does keep charcoal and pastels from smearing. It’s also used with watercolors and gouache. For a long time, I accepted this hairspray from hell as a necessary evil but often asked a friend to do the dirty work for me. Even so, the noxious chemical coating lingered on my work ever after.

Enter Spectrafix

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As far as I know, this is the only non-toxic fixative spray out there. It comes in a regular spray bottle. Spectrafix is more expensive than its deadly predecessors, but one bottle will last a really long time. I love being able to use it while I’m working instead of having to stop everything, go outside and then wait for the fumes to dissipate. This is a product I would have killed for as a kid but was sure couldn’t exist. I’m so glad it does!

My Favorite Paint

I wanted to start this blog by talking a little about my favorite people/earth safe paint.

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Earth Safe Finishes has pretty much all of my favorite art supplies. Every product I’ve tried has exceeded my expectations. They offer a wide variety of super high-quality tools for serious artists and tons of stuff for craft projects too! I love this line because they offer purer versions of some of the most offensive art supplies (I’m looking at you gesso!) that I have yet to find anywhere else. Whether you are buying for a child, a crafty adult or a serious artist, something from this company will probably blow your mind.

When I first started to look for less-toxic paint options, I couldn’t really find anything but watercolors and oil paints(no pre-mixed versions). I don’t really like using either of those so I hated to change my M.O. just for the sake of being green. That’s why I love this brand so much. It’s a haven for exclusive acrylic users like me. I have not found many green acrylic options beyond Earth Safe Finishes, and absolutely none I like better.

It performs well enough that I can paint the way I would of I was using chemical-laden products from conventional art supply stores. It is a little on the expensive side but not any more than other high-quality supplies, and there are cost-effective ways to use this line. Most of the products are no-VOC, completely non-toxic and made in the USA. Since I’m a very messy painter, it’s important to have a brand I feel okay about making contact with my skin all the time. I feel totally comfortable using Earth Safe Finishes every day!

The website seems to be going through some changes, but you can get many of their products on amazon!

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