The Weekly Hydroponic Lettuce Project

Discussion in 'Gardening and Agriculture' started by WWhermit, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. WWhermit

    WWhermit Well-Known Member

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    So, I've gotten a request or two to show step-by-step how I'm going to do the weekly lettuce project. Basically, I'll be growing hydroponic lettuce, in individual containers, without any electricity, I'll be starting one new crop each week, and hopefully getting a new head of lettuce to eat weekly, if all goes well.

    I'll post a link here so you can read the original thread, where I got this idea.

    http://www.preparedsociety.com/forum/f14/started-my-new-years-lettuce-today-16340/

    Keep in mind, I'm terrible at gardening, and have never grown anything hydroponically before. That's kind of the reason why I wanted to try this. So easy, even a caveman can do it, right?

    Even though I'm on phase 3, I'm only going to post phase 1, and share observations as I go. So, on with the show!

    Phase 1. I'm using rockwool as a growing medium for the lettuce seeds. I'm also using Burpee seeds.

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    Rockwool needs to be soaked for about an hour, and the general opinion is that a PH level of 5.5 is ideal for the water. I don't have a PH meter, so I skipped that. :sssh: Here is the soak.

    [​IMG]

    After soaking, I used a toothpick and made a hole about 3/8 of an inch into the rockwool, and placed 2 seeds in. I then pulled just a bit of the rockwool over the top of the hole. I then placed the rockwool into the first dish, using a Gladware small round container.

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    Seeds need to be kept warm, so I bought a "windowsill seedling heat mat" off of Amazon.com for $17. I know, this uses electricity, but since it's winter, and outside it's about 15 degrees, I needed the extra heat, and didn't want to set up a thermal heat setup right away. This will come later. The piece of fleece under the heat mat greatly increases the efficiency of the heat mat. It isolates the heat up, instead of heating up the counter as well.

    [​IMG]

    I took another identical Gladware container and place it on top of the one holding the rockwool and seeds. I then drilled 3 holes near the rims, and dropped 3 nails in, to hold the top onto the bottom. The two containers together creates a miniature greenhouse.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, because seeds do not need, or like light, I covered the entire thing with another piece of fleece, to keep it nice and dark. The heat mat will be shared with sprouted seedlings, and they need light, so I had to cover this little guy up.

    [​IMG]

    In time, I'll be making something to direct heat and light so that I don't need electricity at all, but this will take a bit of time. First I have to make sure I can actually grow something!

    I'll post the next entry as things progress.
     
  2. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Thanks W.W..:wave:

    We just got back from buying more stuff to start off.We will be doing it a little different than you but hope we both get the same results,good ones that is.:)

    I am going to look for a place online for a good deal on to buy the net pots and fertilizer.

    Be back soon.Let me know if yall find a good deal on hydroponic products.
     

  3. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

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    Look forward to your progress reports.
     
  4. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Went to "Eco Enterprises" and got net pots,aka,cups 50, 2 inch for $12.00.

    Fertilizer' Earth Juice Grow'2-1-1.$12.00 Qt.

    GH,PH Control kit...$14.45.

    The shipping is ridiculous! $16.35!!! But we went to several other sites and they were too expensive.So far $55.38 into these products.Another $100 in containers,form sheeting,buckets.Small scale,only 8 containers total.Plus pipes,and acccessories.
    Oh yes and the books,one we really like, about $40.
     
  5. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Bumping up so we don't get lost here.
     
  6. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Today our fertilizer,net pots and ph tester arrived from post office.Time to dive in.

    We bought 6 cabbage and 6 lettuce plants from Lowes gareden center for a test.They are about 6in or maybe 8 weeks old so have plenty of roots on them and ready for putting into hydro tub.

    Below is the one we will start with.....


    this will be the first test

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=P...&v=e3imrVkIUhg&feature=player_detailpage#t=5s

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zNxabqqRDU&feature=player_detailpage#t=54s
     
  7. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    I ordered my supllies from 'Eco Enterprises',best price I could find,but you may do better.

    free catalog can be ordered by phone...1800-426-6937.I like catalogs for ideas too.I ordred by post office because it was cheaper and got it today,so it took maybe 4 business days.Still cost 17 bucks S&H,but maybe yall can find better deal on that too.

    So far we added up $155.00 spent on this project.

    Books
    4x8 insulation sheeting
    12x100-6mil plastic
    Pea gravel
    containers,18gal.
    buckets
    fertilizer
    net pots
    PH tester
    hole cutters
    pvc piping,elbows,etc.
    $20 S&H,need to lower that

    lowes,walmart,eco enterrprises,local hardware.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  8. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Setting up in south facing lean to greenhouse we built last year.Will enclose a small room inside the greenhouse [temporary] for hydros.Use house heat on cold nights by opening windows[ dogs are in the yard in case Freddie or Atillia visits] .
     
  9. WWhermit

    WWhermit Well-Known Member

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    Phase 2!

    Phase 2...

    After day 4 in the covered incubator, my seeds have all sprouted in the rockwool. The rockwool is still reasonably moist, since the plastic containers acted like a greenhouse.

    Time to uncover the little fellas and move them under the light.

    [​IMG]

    These will still be covered with a lid, but the light will be allowed to shine on them. For the light, I'm using a $9 desklamp I bought at Lowes, and an 18w CFL bulb. This will ultimately be replaced with a reflective material that will direct sunlight into the covered chamber, but agreements with the wifey right now dictate that this project must be fully functional before I go building little greenhouses in our living room! :laugh:

    The light is on a 12 hour timer, and although the water does stay in the chamber, the moisture level of the rockwool has to be monitored, and if necessary, add more.

    [​IMG]

    This stage will continue for about a week or so. Optimally, from what I've read, you should be able to see the base of the roots growing through the rockwool within about a week, and then you know it's ready to be moved into the actual hydroponic system.

    Observation: One of my previous plants, I waited a full week before I uncovered him from darkness, and the sprout was very tall and thin, because he was searching for sunlight. This made it weak, and unable to stand on it's own weight of the sprouting leaves. It's still alive, but is being supported by a toothpick. Don't know if he's going to fully develop. I'll put up a picture when I can. The point is, as soon as you see the leaves open up, get him out of the darkness. Otherwise, they think they're still underground, and will continue to grow, searching for that sunlight. This makes them weak.

    More pics and entries as things develop!!
     
  10. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Nice job,Whermit.

    Heres video that may interest some .This is one of the systems we plan to put up this week.We already have the other almost ready to put in transplants.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nXy32Dr4Z4A#t=2s
     
  11. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    I tried to show the video picture here but only the Url comes up?
     
  12. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Have the buckets done now.All hooked up and our reservoir is nice and clean too.In a few days we will start the plants.

    This has come into more money than we thought it would,but now we are set up .Pumps,air rocks,fertilizer,all kinds of hoses,pvc and net pots.
     
  13. WWhermit

    WWhermit Well-Known Member

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    Phase 3!!

    The plant has grown about as much as it can without proper sunlight and food, so it's time to transfer into the pot.

    [​IMG]

    For it's container, I will use a cleaned whey protein container, with a 3 inch hole cut into the top. The net pot will rest inside, and hydroton clay balls will secure the rockwool in position, and also help retain moisture, and block out some of the light.

    [​IMG]

    The water and food solution will fill up the whey protein container until it reaches up to the net pot by about 1/4 inch, which will feed the plant until the roots have time to grow down into the solution. Now, the container is placed on the windowsill where it gets plenty of sun!

    [​IMG]

    Light, however, is the enemy inside the container. Algae will grow if light gets in, so I surrounded the container with heavy paper.

    [​IMG]

    We'll see how this does. Now, the net pot has to be checked every couple days to see roots. Once the roots grow out, no other water needs to be added. Until then, however, you have to make sure that the water reaches the rockwool.

    Next update soon!
     
  14. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    My seedlings are the same size as yours,just got true leaves.What kind of fertilizer are you using?
     
  15. WWhermit

    WWhermit Well-Known Member

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    I'm using MaxiGro by General Hydroponics. Got it at a local "hydroponic supply" store. The guy was surprised I wasn't growing pot.

    http://generalhydroponics.com/site/index.php/products/nutrients/maxi_series/maxigro/

    I paid $15.35 for a 1kg bag, and at the rate I'm using it, it should last about 3 years. I only use 7g in each container. The container holds about 3/4 gallon of water.
     
  16. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Thanks,we just put into reservoir and buckets store bought ones to see how they do,will plant our seedlings next.Today we put in reservoir lettuce and cabbage.In buckets we have 4 tomatoe plants.We are using Substra Flores from htdro store.PH is perfect so far.Soon as I learn how I'll put up pictures.

    We spent $180 in that store.:eek:
     
  17. WWhermit

    WWhermit Well-Known Member

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    Phase 4!

    These are pictures I took this morning. The plant on the left has been in it's container for about 3 weeks. The plant on the right, about 1 week.

    [​IMG]

    Until this point, I've monitored the water level in the container to make sure that the rockwool is still moist. This must be done until there is enough root growth for the plant to absorb nutrients directly through the roots. In fact, the water level must go down now, because the plant will now grow a different type of root system, shorter than the "feeder" roots, to get it's oxygen. At least that's what I've read in the study.

    Here's a shot of the roots for the plant on the left.

    [​IMG]

    The leaves on this plant seem a bit "thin, and papery", and I'm wondering if the plant is deficient in something, or if it's just because it's butter lettuce that I"m growing, and that's how it grows naturally. Everything else seems nice and healthy otherwise.

    The plants are getting sunlight from about 8:00AM to 3:00PM. Not enough, really, but I can't change that. We'll see how they do.
     
  18. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

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    Roots look great.Wish I could post pictures.We cheated ,we bought transplants from Lowes,so we could get a feel of it .We have plenty of seedlings started though,many have true leaves already.Think I'll put some of all the lettuce in raised bed.Maybe start more peppers and tomatoes in hydro containers.I can set up a small 17gal.container for them to start with.
     
  19. WWhermit

    WWhermit Well-Known Member

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    Pics taken this morning. The plant on the left started from seed on January 1st of this year. 6 weeks into the project, this is the result so far. The plant on the right is about 2 weeks behind his bigger brother.

    [​IMG]

    This is a nice look at the root system that has developed in the nutrient solution.

    [​IMG]

    I've also modified my starter plant process. I'm still using the windowsill heater under the rockwool and seeds, but all the light is now coming from the Sun, instead of using a CFL bulb to start the seedlings. It seems to be working so far. It's hard to see in the picture, but I've got sprouts about 1 1/2 inches tall in there.

    [​IMG]

    It gets down to the 20s and 30s at night, and regardless of the insulation value of double-pane windows, it still gets really chilly at night, and I'm worried that it would just be too much for a seedling. Maybe I'll try a batch with no heater mat underneath, just to see what happens.
     
  20. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

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    Look forward to it... :)