You’ve longingly viewed the pictures of lush, green fodder that you see in ads & in posts online. Others are growing this for their animals & you know you can, too. Last week I posted about how I grow fodder. It is a simple concept, but success depends on temperature & moisture. There are a few things that can go wrong & cause your fodder to flop.
This is often the biggest problem, especially if you are watering by hand. I water twice each day & then tip the trays so the excess runs off. Too much water sitting in the trays causes the grain to smell bad. Too much moisture can also cause mold. Check the holes in the fodder trays & add more if necessary.
Missing one watering in a week’s cycle usually doesn’t cause big problems. Missing more than one can result in sparse germination & the fodder can develop a foul odor. I am careful about feeding this & look closely for mold.
If your grain seems dry between waterings then you may need to add an additional one. Forced air & wood stoves are drying so position your fodder growing system away from vents & stoves. Some people grow fodder in spare bathrooms where a water source is easy to access. The door can be closed & the heat vent adjusted to keep the room from becoming too warm.
The optimal temperature is 64-70 degrees. I grow mine in the basement with the thermostat set at 66. This works fine until the summer months when it becomes too warm for the fodder to grow properly. At higher temps, the grain ferments and the fodder growth stalls. Once we have pasture, I don’t grow it for the sheep. I would like to continue on for the rabbits, however. I’ll be experimenting to find the best way to keep it growing during hot weather. We don’t have air conditioning and the addition of a small unit might be necessary to keep the grass growing.
Washing the trays & buckets will keep bacteria from building up. I’ve had good luck with hot water alone. Sometimes I use soap or bleach on the buckets. Greenhouse flats have grooves that collect debris so may need to be washed more thoroughly.
Presoak the Grain
The grain should be started 24 hours before spreading in the tray. I soak the grain for 8-12 hours & then drain until it is time to load the tray. Some people soak for less time & some for more. This takes a little fiddling around with depending on the grain used.
You begin to find small flying insects around your trays. Nope those aren’t fruit flies, they’re root gnats. They are a common greenhouse problem. One way to get rid of them is to make your own fly paper. Coat yellow or orange pieces of construction paper with mucilage. It remains tacky for some time. Place them close to the areas you notice the bugs.