Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wheatgrass for the Guinea Pigs

At the end of February, my sister Joy started a new project - growing wheatgrass for our pets Moonball and Walnut. We live in a condo building, and usually have a hard time getting fresh grass. We do mostly small container gardening in the balconies. We give our guinea pigs some inexpensive leafy vegetables, but they're not a substitute for fresh, sweet grass. So Joy did her homework, and discovered a very good tutorial on There are also many blogs that have excellent how-to videos and directions as well.

It was a challenge finding the seeds. At first Joy went to a feed store and bought oat groats, but only a small percentage of that sprouted and grew. She later remembered that Healthy Options Shangri-la had a selection of organic grains for sale. She found some Bob's Red Mill brand "Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries" and "Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries" which were being sold for P169 per 2-lb pack. Oddly this was a better price than what was being offered at Manila Seedling Bank.

The grains are soaked (and drained, and soaked, and drained) for anywhere from 8 hours to 18 hours. They are later spread on potting mix or shredded newspaper in small recycled take-out containers, and left to grow, covered, in a dark area until they sprout and etiolate (grow pale grass shoots without sunlight). After some time the shoots are transferred to an area with indirect sunlight, and the grass shoots eventually turn green. They are spray-watered several times a day. By the time the grass reaches 5-7" it is ready to harvest. Joy does staggered plantings so she has a harvest every day, or every other day. A serving of wheatgrass in a low take-out tray is enough to feed the guinea pigs - it's only meant to be a treat, since they have pellets for daily sustenance.

One day instead of cutting the wheatgrass and putting it in a bowl, we decided to give Moonball and Walnut the entire tray. They loved it!

The mowed-down grass, root system and potting mix are then shredded and returned to our little compost bin for later re-use. We've tried growing some wheatgrass in A4-sized low plastic containers for wheatgrass juice, but the yield was quite low - after a spell in a Jack Lalanne juicer, we only produced about 5 oz for 2 containers' worth of grass! We fed the discarded grass from the juicer to Moonball and Walnut, so nothing was wasted. That was worth a try anyway :)


Ana Shepard said...

Ah! This is exactly what I was looking for-I bought a 'kit' of this grass previously, but we have 3 dogs, plus the princess Pippa Pig, and those containers were tiny! I was thinking how much Pippy would live to graze on her very own, personal patch of grass! I'm going to try this.......thank you,

FYI-the kits came with this really neat soil substitute materiel that I'm attempting to identify. It turned into a gel sort of thing, but the genius of it was that it hardly needed to be watered, and the grass grew like crazy, so high and SO fast. Plus, when dogs/pigs got into the container/knocked it over-it stayed put, no soil all over.the place.
Thanks for the useful post-
Ana-chef, gardener, all around lady-in-waiting for Pippa Pig

Jillian said...


I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?