Hydroponics Lettuce for profit!

  • Growing hydroponics lettuce is one of the easiest and the best ways to start hydroponic gardening.
  • Lettuce is a simple to grow all round plant that can ensure you get great results when grown in soil, as long as you keep pests off it.
  • This is where growing lettuce hydroponically will make perfect sense and will be a terrific first task for any hydroponic setup.
  • Lettuce hydroponics will typically look after themselves and do not need a lot of nutrients as other heavy feeding plants like tomatoes.
  • It's obviously still a great practice to check out your growing hydroponic lettuce plants every day for pests or other problems, though these problems are considerably decreased with hydroponics, particularly indoor hydroponics.
  • Actually, the only issue you could come across when growing hydroponic lettuce at home is size.
  • Lettuce is in high demand and has a high value in urban and peri-urban zones, which makes it a very suitable crop for large-scale commercial production.

Note: -

  • Check lettuce for signs of downy mildew, powdery mildew or gray mold and get rid of any infected plants.
  • Water that's heavily chlorinated can lead to issues with lettuce. You should use lightly chlorinated city water or well water.

Lettuce varieties: -

Lettuce can be characterized based on their leaf and head formation.

Crisp head or iceberg: -

  • Crisp head lettuce, more commonly known as iceberg, has a tight head of crisp leaves. Often found in the local salad bar, it is actually one of the most difficult lettuce varieties to grow. This lettuce variety is not fond of hot summer temperature or water stress and may rot from the inside.
  • Start iceberg lettuce via seed directly sown 18-24 inches apart or started indoors and then thinned 12-14 inches between heads. Some iceberg lettuce varieties include Ballade, Crispino, Ithaca, Legacy, Mission, Salinas, Summertime and Sun Devil, all of which mature in 70-80 days.

Romaine or Cos: -

  • Romaine varieties are typically 8-10 inches tall and upright growing with spoon-shaped, tightly folded leaves and thick ribs. Colouration is medium green on the exterior to a greenish white inside with the outer leaves.
  • Sometimes being tough whilst the interior foliage is tender with wonderful crunch and sweetness. Different types of this lettuce are Brown Golding, Chaos Mix black, chaos Mix white, Dark green Romaine, De Morges Braun, Hyper Red Rumple, Little Leprechaun. All of which mature within around 70 days.

Butterhead, Boston or Bibb: -

  • One of the more delicate varieties of lettuce, Butterhead is creamy to light green on the inside and loose, soft and ruffled green on the exterior. These different types of lettuce may be harvested by removing the entire head or just the outside leaves and easier to grow than crispheads, being more tolerant of conditions.
  • Less likely to bolt and rarely bitter, the butterhead lettuce varieties mature in about 55-75 days and spaced similarly to the crispheads. These varieties of lettuce include Blushed Butter Oak, Buttercrunch, Carmona, Divina, and Yugoslavian red.

Growing Conditions: -

  • Lettuce is a winter crop. For head growth, the night air temperature should be 3-12°C, with a day temperature of 17-28°C.
  • The generative growth is affected by photoperiod and temperature extended daylight warm conditions(>18°C) at night cause bolting. Water temperature >26°C may also result in bolting and leaf bitterness.
  • The plant has low nutrient demand; however higher calcium concentrations in water help to prevent tip burn in leaf in summer crops.
  • The ideal PH is 5.8-6.2. but lettuce still grows well with a PH as high as 7, although some iron deficiencies might appear owing to reduced bio-availability of this nutrient above neutrality.

Growing instructions:

  • Seedlings can be transplanted in units at three weeks when plants have at least 2-3 true leaves. Supplemental fertilization with phosphorous to the seedlings in the second and third weeks favours root growth and avoids plant stress at transplant.
  • Take care not to damage the roots of plants during transplanting because such damage will make the plant susceptible to disease infection.
  • It is advisable to transplant the plant in the late afternoon to prevent them becoming stressed in the heat of the day under high UV conditions.
  • The transplant will begin to adapt to the new location at night and roots will start to grow into the solution below.
  • Make sure the plants base is touching the flow of nutrient solution below when transplanting.
  • To achieve crisp sweet lettuce, grow plants at a fast pace by maintaining high nitrate levels in the unit. When air and water temperatures increase during the season, use bolt -resistant(summer) varieties. If growing in media beds, plant new lettuces where they will be partially shaded by taller nearby plants.

Lighting: -    

  • Lettuce grows up vigorously with fluorescent lighting. It would obviously grow far better with the more expensive lighting specially created for hydroponics, like HID and some of the latest LED grow lights for indoor plants.
  • However, regarding cost-effectiveness, from the viewpoint of the small-scale grower, fluorescent lighting is the best.
  • These are cool weather crops, so too much heat can, in fact, delay germination.

Harvesting Hydroponics lettuce: -

Hydroponics harvesting depends on the following factors

  • First, this will depend on what type you are growing. Romaine takes up to 85 days. Bibb and Loose-leaf lettuce can take 45 to 55 days.
  • It has to do preference, growing lettuce indoors then you have to manage the environment and prolong your harvest.
  • The majority of hydroponic lettuce production systems created around two ideas, either the floating raft system or the nutrient flow technique (NFT) system.
  • The floating raft method is of particular interest since it is very affordable and can produce a lot of hydroponic lettuce.
  • One of the major issues with raft systems is that the hydroponic lettuce nutrients solution is continually stagnant and will require that you use pumps to circulate water and produce important aeration.
  • If the roots are not getting the precious oxygen, floating raft systems experience substantial loses of crops in the form of nutrients.

Below are some types that work well in hydroponics and with indoor artificial lighting:

  • Royal Oakleaf is a darker green variety of lettuce that does extremely well in hydroponic growing systems and is also resistant to heat.
  • Tango grows perfectly in cooler environmental only.
  • Red Fire is a deep red, loose leaf variety that's ideal for both warm and cool climates.
  • Green Ice is a variety of green loose that offers a long picking season.

Hydroponic romaine lettuce also does well though it usually takes a little bit longer to attain maturity.

Tips: -

  • When you harvest lettuce with the roots attached, it will prolong storage life by two to four weeks.
  • To prevent getting water mold such as Pythium or Phytophthora in your hydroponic lettuce system, use bleach to sanitize the tray between plants. If the lettuce gets infected, the plant is a loss.
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