What is Hydroponic Grass and How to Grow It?

Introduction

Some people have the misconception that hydroponic grown crops including wheatgrass are less tasty and of lower quality. However, this is not true. In its early stages, hydroponics was not developed fully and had some issues in cultivating good quality crops. Over time, it has perfected a system of cultivation that is not only smart but is also efficient and produces crops of equal or even better quality than conventionally grown produce. Even though it is the most widely practiced form of crop cultivation and planting, conventional soil-based growing and cultivation of crops has its own set of problems. For places that grow their plant indoors, growing with soil as the medium means soil-borne pathogens, dust, storage issues, and even physical injury. Soil and dust can get into the indoor air cleaning systems, polluting the air in the indoor controlled environment, resulting in huge losses in crops and spending large amounts of money for maintenance and repair. Hydroponics is therefore a viable alternative to conventional soil-based growing since it utilizes other growing mediums besides soil. One example of such a growing medium is coco coir. Read on to find out the difference between using coco coir and soil as a growing medium in particular for wheatgrass. 

Looking at pH levels

For crops to grow well and achieve its maximum growth, it has to be cultivated at an optimum pH level. For wheatgrass, the perfect pH level for its growth ranges between 6.0 to 7.0. This is a slightly acidic level. Some farmers have said that to be precise, the perfect pH level for wheatgrass to grow is at 6.5. If you are growing wheatgrass in soil, you have to ensure manually that the pH level remains in the specific range in order for the plant to process all of its required nutrients and minerals efficiently. What this means is that you will have to check the soil periodically in order to make sure that the soil supply is not too acidic or too alkaline. You also have to check the water you water the plants with regularly using a metering device, to ensure that the plant is not fed with something that is too acidic or alkaline. This can be quite troublesome and taxing since you have to do the checks manually and regularly. 

For coco coir, there is no need to measure its pH with a soil tester as its pH level remains consistent between 6.0 and 6.5 straight out of the bag. The only thing to take note of is when you add water to the coco coir, which may affect the overall pH level of the growing medium. Therefore, you will have to measure the pH level of the water you use with a metering device, making sure that it remains at a neutral pH level so that the coco coir remains at an ideal pH level for wheatgrass to grow. If the water you use is too alkaline, with a pH level of around 8.0, you can add a little bit of citric acid to lower its pH level before adding it to the coco coir. 

Levels of nutrients 

Besides ensuring an optimum pH level for the growing medium, you will need to ensure that the nutrients necessary for the wheatgrass’ growth are present and are in the correct amounts. All plants require nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to survive. Depending on the type of plant, the amount needed for each nutrient is different. For wheatgrass, higher levels of potassium are needed in order to achieve higher protein content in the grain. However, potassium levels and uptakes in wheatgrass only occur in its heading stages. This is beyond the control of the farmer since wheatgrass is mostly harvested in its first stage of growth as a baby green. Therefore, wheatgrass should be able to grow and thrive in the soil as long as the nutrients mentioned are present. The only way to make sure of this and to figure out if the nutrients are present is to use a soil testing kit. The testing kit will allow you to find out how much potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus are present in the soil across a range of high, medium, or low. If the amount of nutrient is low, you may need to manually add some of it into the soil in order to ensure that the wheatgrass grows well. 

On the other hand, coco coir contains a high amount of potassium while having lesser nitrogen and phosphorus. In order to balance this out, you will need to add a natural amendment that provides nitrogen and phosphorus but contains less potassium. A good choice is adding coffee grounds into your coco coir mix, boosting its nitrogen and phosphorus levels without causing a significant increase to the potassium levels. Coffee grounds are a good choice since they do not cause composting issues that can damage the crop, and are not high in its acidity. One tip when using coffee grounds is to refrigerate them before usage in order to maximize its effects. 

Conclusion

Hydroponic options like coco noir can be a good and promising alternative to conventional soil used in most farming and planting of crops. It is a sustainable growing medium that offers a good pH level for wheatgrass. It also contains the necessary nutrients to facilitate the growth of wheatgrass, making its planting more controllable and predictable. Although soil has been used widely as the main growing medium for a long time, its pH levels and amount of nutrients can vary greatly depending on its source. This causes more work for the farmers as they need to manually test the soil with a tester and make amendments accordingly. When considering which growing medium to use, you should also take price into consideration. Although there are benefits to coco coir, it is slightly more expensive than regular bagged soil and can affect farming practices and its feasibility. As such, be sure to do ample research before you decide on how to plant your crops to ensure success!

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