Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that doesn't involve soil. The plant's roots are bathed in nutrient-rich liquid solutions, and temperature, air circulation and light are carefully controlled. Wheatgrass is the edible blades or foliage of the common wheat plant. They are considered to be beneficial by some users and are easy and quick to grow. However, the moist, warm conditions necessary for hydroponic gardening also contribute to the formation of molds and fungi on the wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass is also known as Triticum asestivum, which is the common wheat. It is native to Europe and North America and is used as a food crop for people and animals. Hydroponic wheatgrass is sprouted in liquid solution for seven to 10 days. You can begin harvesting the leaves soon thereafter. The wheatgrass seeds can be pre-contaminated with bacterial or fungal diseases and this will transfer to the plant. Because wheatgrass is consumed raw, there is no way to remove any contaminants.
Significance of Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass is high in vitamins A, C and E. It also has high levels of iron, calcium, magnesium and amino acids. Wheatgrass contains a high concentration of chlorophyll, which makes plants green and helps with photosynthesis. According to WebMD, some people believe chlorophyll has the ability to fight cancer and arthritis. There are many other purported uses, such as a detoxifying agent. Some people that take wheatgrass may experience nausea after initial doses of the supplement.
How Molds Spread
Mold grows and spreads through spores. The spores need a warm, moist environment in which to grow and reproduce. The conditions in hydroponics gardens in the south and other high-heat areas create high humidity. This promotes the growth of the spores even more and can lead to a widespread problem on all the crops. In addition, hygienic practices may fail to reduce spores spread from crop to crop. Failure to clean all surfaces, planting containers, tubes, hoses and even floors can find your next crop contaminated by mold. The incidence of prior contamination to the seed is high and will also result in plants with mold.
Some people are extremely allergic to mold and could become ill or uncomfortable if they ingest the moldy leaves. In the case of white mold on wheatgrass, it should be treated as any rotting food and it should be composted to be on the safe side. There are many kinds of molds and it is impossible to assess which one is on the wheatgrass. The dangerous molds contain mycotoxins, which affect 25 percent of the world's food crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are poisonous and can cause serious illness.
Hydroponics operations should have good ventilation and fans to promote the movement of air. Stagnant air is more likely to become overly warm and moist, which are conditions the spores favor. Excess nutrients are also a contributor to mold formation. Like any organism, mold needs to fuel its growth and it will use available nutrients and organic matter as food.
Wheatgrass seeds should come from a certified supplier and they need to be guaranteed that they are free of mold and fungi. This will help prevent the introduction of the spores into your hydroponics garden in the first place.