Lettuce is a great plant to start your hydroponic gardening career with, since it’s very low maintenance and not so demanding as many other vegetables and fruits. Find out how to grow hydroponic lettuce in the following article.
Lettuce is the main component in many salads, which makes it an essential vegetable in a lot of homes. But soil grown lettuce is not always easy to handle and comfortable, since it comes with a soil-dirty lower body that’s hard to clean off properly. Hydroponic lettuce on the other hand can literally be passed straight from the growth tray onto the plate, but that’s not the only advantage that growing this vegetable in a soilless environment brings.
Lettuce is in high demand at all times, so commercial producers will grow hydroponic lettuce for profit, but even if you’re not interested in making money off selling this veggie, you could still be interested in growing lettuce as a source of food from time to time, or simply to learn how to grow plants in a hydroponic system.
Lettuce is a great “guinea pig” in this case, because it’s one of the least demanding vegetables you can find, so there will be a lot of room for error. It’s unavoidable that you make these errors if you’re new to hydroponics, so it’s better to make them on a plant that can take the beating, instead of some high-demand strawberry or whatnot, that will crack at the first signs of trouble.
The main problem (and possibly the only one) with growing hydroponic lettuce is its size. An adult lettuce can grow quite big and its leaves will go beyond the edges of the growth trays, which in turn causes several issues. For example, the plants might overshadow one another, with the ones that don’t receive enough light having their growth process cut in half.
Speaking of needs, the only variable that you’ll really have to focus on getting right with hydroponic lettuce is the water volume. Lettuce plants love water, so a system that works on a flooding mechanism is best for the job. Ebb and flows, NFT and even water culture systems will bode quite well when growing hydroponic lettuce.
Light-wise, lettuce is a long day plant, meaning that it requires around 18 hours of light per day in order to grow it at full potential. But unlike other vegetables, this light doesn’t have to be of solid intensity, so don’t go spending hundreds of dollars on the most powerful metal halide lighting systems on the market. Instead, a fluorescent light can do the job well and it will also be more power-efficient, seeing how you’ll have to keep it on most of the times anyway.
If everything worked the way it should have, you should have your first fully grown hydroponic lettuce plants ready in around one month. In a system where you can grow around 10 lettuces, you could virtually have a constant stream of fresh lettuce each day, without having to visit the grocery shop.