Let’s face it, aging sucks, especially after you cross 80 and like an old car, my dad says, your wear out. He’s led quite a life, having been born in northern Vietnam in 1930, migrating to South Vietnam, and then fleeing Saigon for America in 1975. Bo Gia (“boe zah”, means Old Daddy, a Vietnamese term of endearment) has been on a low-cholesterol diet since his two angioplasties in the early 1990s. After researching on the internet and consulting with our family as well as friends, he had a stent put in instead of bypass surgery (no one discusses the trauma of recovery, he noted). A decent quality of life is important to him, he said.
Last year, Bo Gia began losing weight and feeling depressed. No one could figure out what the problem was. Finally, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He went to have his last confession but his doctors said with proper management, he may outlive the cancer. That’s the deal with slow moving prostate cancer.
But his digestion was bugging him – as well as my mom, who was frustrated that he wasn’t able to enjoy food like he used to. “Are you wheatgrass juice these days?” I asked him. It had been a while, he said. My sister Yenchi and her husband Quan were both telling him to juice, but Bo Gia wasn’t into throwing a bunch of leafy greens and ginger into a blender. He wanted to grow his own life giving food!
Gardening gives him a lot of pleasure because it’s a cultivation of life, he said. (He used to have a landscaping business.) Bo Gia had gotten into wheatgrass about fifteen years ago, after he and my mom visited a health clinic in San Diego and realized that people were signing up for a regimen of mostly fresh wheatgrass juice. A self-starter, he thought to do it himself and Yenchi bought him a juicer.
It takes time to grow grass, juice the tender blades, and clean up the machine, Dad admitted. There were years when he opted for wheatgrass pills (he’d pass them out to each of us take and gifted us jars of it!) but they didn’t have the same impact on his body. He stopped juicing wheatgrass for a while, especially when his machine got funky, but since the beginning of this year, Bo Gia has doubled down on wheatgrass. He drinks 4 ounces per day and his digestion has improve. A regular dose is 2 ounces, which is what he made for me to drink.
The prostate medications have positively impacted his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) number as well as that of other crucial indicators. His doctor prescribed a cannabinoid to help increase his appetite. Mom was happy that marijuana was facilitating Dad’s increased appetite for the munchies.
However, before he started on the wheatgrass juice, he didn’t digest certain foods well, particularly acidic or rich foods, and ate very small meals. Now, he has a much easier go at it. He’s gained back some of his weight and has more energy than around the holiday season. He admits that hard to say if there’s a direct correlation between the wheatgrass and his digestion but he’s enjoying life a lot more.
Ironically, my sister Yenchi and brother Dan were interested in Bo Gia’s wheatgrass techniques, so he wrote the instructions and include photos, too. I asked his permission to share his tips with you here, plus I took some photos of Bo Gia’s daily juicing regimen. This is a family collaboration, with the genius coming from my dad. Quite impressive for someone who’s 87-years young.
How to Grow Wheatgrass for Home Daily Use
Please take time to go through The Wheatgrass Book by Ann Wigmore to understand the benefits of wheatgrass.
Order the seeds from Amazon, 5 lbs/bag, of Power Grow Wheatgrass Seeds Organic. (Better order 3 or 4 bags at a time for a good deal.)
Get the flats for free at Lowe’s or big nurseries where the flats are to be discarded. Buy a roll of screen net and cut square pieces to fit into the flat. They are to be laid down into the flats to retain the dirt. (Buy at Lowe’s or other home improvement stores.)
Buy organic potting soil sold in bags at Lowe’s or any big nurseries. We are using the Sta-Green which works pretty well. Add about 3/4 inch of potting soil, then make it even and add soaked seeds. Cover with some more dirt then gently water (I use the mist setting on a garden hose sprayer.)
Use 16 ounces of seeds each time for two (2) flats, soak and drain as per instruction on the bags. After 2 days the seeds will sprout and will be ready to be spread in the flats.
Water once every other day. After 8 to 10 days the grass will be to be cut for use.
How to Juice Wheatgrass
Several handfuls of cut wheatgrass will give about 4 to 4.5 oz of juice, to be taken every day, better on an empty stomach. Wash and drain the wheatgrass well before juicing.
A full flat can be used for 4 days (times) at the above 4.5 oz daily use.
As for juicing machines, try the Miracle Wheatgrass Juicer MJ 550, available at Amazon for about US$200.00. That machine worked well for years. However, I recently got the Omega 8006 juicer and find that it works better than the Miracle.
How to Build a Wheatgrass Growing Rack
A multiple-level growing rack can be built with PVC pipe to hold the flat and save space. Use ¾-inch PVC pipe SCH 40 with T and V (corner) connectors. Buy by the bundle/contractor bags to save money. A 4-level rack requires 2 bundles of pipe (10 inches each, 5 ft long) plus 4 bags of T and 2 bags of V connectors.
Look at the pictures: T to T at the corner, cut 1 ½-in pipes and join them together. For the height between the racks, cut 11-inch pieces, for the depth cut 9 ½-inch pieces. For the width, cut 19-inch pieces. Never use glue, just put them together and they will hold strong enough. It will help to adjust or dismantle them if later need to move around.
For outdoor use, the growing rack will need to be covered all around to protect it from animals that can damage the wheatgrass during night time. Use plastic screen door/window (buy at Lowe’s), and plastic garden ties (99 Cents Store) to attache the screen to the rack.
For indoor use, the growing rack needs to have sunlight; a kitchen window or sliding glass door may work. Be aware if you have a dog or cat.