When Good Barley Goes Bad

I’ve learned some things about sprouting fodder that I either didn’t know, or didn’t pay attention to, when I began. Oh, the first couple of weeks went well, but then something went wrong. At first the barley looked fine and grew almost as well, but the smell had changed. Instead of smelling like fresh cucumbers when I cut it up, it took on a smell that was more than a little reminiscent of fresh vomit. (Yeah, sorry, but it did). This happened to coincide with opening a new bag of barley. So I thought maybe it was the seed itself.

I had the husband bring in a different bag of barley, but now it would barely sprout at all. It looked like the photo above with just a few valiant seeds managing to produce grass. Most of the seeds quickly became covered with a white substance. Mold. But how could that be? This mill has too good a reputation and mills too often for me to think I’d gotten more than one fluke bag.

So I headed back to the drawing board, or rather the internet, to see what was going on. Well, I only wasted about ten pounds of seeds before I figured it out. It seems in my haste to grow fodder I’d skimmed over a few of the details. While I was rinsing my emptied trays out with hot water, I was only scrubbing them with soap if they looked bad. But even if I did scrub one out with soap, the water was going through three containers, spreading whatever was in the top ones to the ones beneath, so if those ones weren’t scrubbed it didn’t matter if the bottom one had been.

I ditched all the moldy seed and fodder, no way could I give that to my rabbits or chickens, and did a complete scrub with soap and a bit of bleach for good measure, then rinsed again. I also started rinsing the seeds after the initial soak of a few hours and then returning it to soak again for a while. And I’m happy to say that instead of looking like the tray above, my fodder now looks like it should at three days in, with lots of lovely green blades and nice little roots and nary a bad smell to be found.


What’s the moral of my story? It always, always comes down to cleanliness. And don’t be a lazy shortcutter. And if at first you succeed, but then you stop succeeding, figure out what went wrong and try again.

The suspect seed was perfectly fine so I’m glad I didn’t throw it out. And in my searching I found that I could add a half cup of black oil sunflower seeds to the fodder I was growing to get a little extra boost in nutrition. Tonight is the first night I threw some in. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully they sprout, too.


4 thoughts on “When Good Barley Goes Bad

  1. valbjerke says:

    Timely post – I noticed yesterday that one if my trays of fodder seemed a bit ‘off’. I’ll try rinsing the seeds for the next tray – I don’t have mine ‘stacked’ one above the other, so luckily the rest are fine.

  2. erikamay85 says:

    Partly why I quit with fodder. I just kept getting mold and couldn’t bleach my wares well enough to make it go away.

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    You probably already know this by now but, judging by how many that the chipmunks have “planted” around here over the years, you can DEFINITELY rest easy about the sprouting power of Black Oil Seed; )

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