I am a houseplant and gardening enthusiast with an equally enthusiastic cat, so I grow wheatgrass for her to save my plants!
Wheatgrass Is Healthy for Cats and Cheap to Grow
My cat, Lucy, loves fresh greenery and she has made short work of a good many plants. When Lucy goes after a plant, she tears up the leaves, knocks it over, pulls all the soil out of the pot, and strews it far and wide. For this reason, I've had to set up all my plants in areas where they can be behind a closed door when I'm not there to supervise. Even so, occasionally Lucy gets shut in with the plants and mayhem ensues.
I wanted to give her an alternative, so I looked into grass-growing kits for cats and found that they are outrageously expensive. For $10 or more, you get a small plastic tray and a handful of seed. The cat enjoys it for a few days and then it's gone. Then one day, when I was doing research for an article on growing sprouts, I hit upon the idea of growing wheatgrass for Lucy. You probably already have almost everything you need for this project. Here's what I figured out.
Reuse Veggie Packaging to Make Your Wheatgrass Trays
- Growing wheatgrass is an excellent way to reuse the little tubs that are used as mushroom packaging. You'll need two.
- Styrofoam veggie trays make good drainage trays after watering. Use the kind that veggies come in, not meat. Styrofoam trays that have held meat may harbor dangerous bacteria.
- A single, half-size paper towel, cut in half makes your growing medium. No messy soil.
- A piece of plastic wrap keeps moisture in for the first couple of days.
- You'll also need scissors and some sort of sharp implement to make holes in one of the mushroom tubs.
Great Seed With Excellent Germination Rates
1. Make Drainage Holes in One of the Mushroom Tubs
You'll need one mushroom tub to plant your seed. Begin by poking holes in the bottom of the tub to allow excess water to drain out. I use a heated awl for this purpose because I have found that using a cold implement just tears up the container. They are a little bit fragile.
Be careful using a heated implement. Make sure it has a handle that will protect you against accidental burns. Set it on a hard, non-flammable surface (like the top of your stove or in your kitchen sink) to cool off completely before putting it away.
Once you've made your drainage holes, cut your half-sized paper towel in half and line the bottom of the tub with one half.
2. Prepare Your Growing Medium and Sow Your Seed
Sprinkle a handful of seed over the piece of paper towel to result in a single layer of seed completely covering the towel. Put the other half towel over the seed and press it down.
Gently run water from the tap over the seed. I usually let it half fill the tub and then just set it in the sink to allow the excess to run out. Don't tip the tub to hurry the drainage because this will displace the seed. You want to keep it in a single layer.
3. Water the Seed, Cover With Plastic Wrap, and Set Aside to Germinate
Once most of the excess water has drained out of the tub, set it on your Styrofoam tray to prevent dripping.
Cover the tub lightly with plastic wrap to hold moisture in.
Put the tub in a warm area with bright, indirect sunlight to germinate. Run water over the seed and allow it to drain every day. You should see sprouts within a day or two.
Days 1 and 2
4. Water Daily and Give Your Sprouts Some Head Room
Every day, take the tub to the sink and run fresh water through the seeds/sprouts. This provides them with the water they need and washes away any fungus that may try to grow.
On the first day, you'll be able to see that the seeds have just started to sprout. On the second day, you'll see green. This means you can remove the top towel so the grass can start to grow upward.
Leave the plastic in place for another day or two.
Days 3 and 4
5. When It Looks Like Grass, Remove the Plastic
Once green grass starts to grow, remove the plastic so that it can get tall. You'll want to let it grow for another two or three days before you give it to your cat. If you want, you can move the tub to an area that gets some direct sunlight. This will encourage it to grow a little faster and produce more chlorophyll.
Continue to wash water through the container every day to water the grass and prevent fungal growth.
Day 5 and 6
6. Now It's Ready to Meet Kitty
Your grass should be tall enough to give to your cat on the fifth day, but I like to give it another day to get a little taller. Before I present it to my cat, I set the planting tub into the second tub (the one without drainage holes). This prevents leaks and protects the roots, which grow out through the holes.
Start a Fresh Batch Right Away
I like to keep two batches of wheat grass growing at once. It's a good idea to start the second one three days after starting the first one so that you'll always have fresh grass ready. I alternate the pots of grass every day to give them a break from Lucy and make them last longer.
I let her keep one pot to chew on during my waking hours. Before I go to bed, I take that pot away and water it. The next morning I put out the alternate pot so that the one that's been chewed on can have a rest.
Doing it this way makes each pot last about a week. When one really begins looking ragged, I just let Lucy keep it until it's destroyed. I dump the grass in my compost bin, wash out the pot and start over again.
This Grass Is Ready to Be Retired
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 26, 2020:
Great tips on how to grow wheat grass. I did grow wheat grass a few years ago for the Christmas tradition and succeeded however your tips are useful
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on March 26, 2020:
Thank you for a very useful hub.