Hydroponics is the term used for growing plants without using soil but rather using water and nutrients. This method of growing vegetables, fruits and herbs is very useful for home gardeners because it can take up little space. Lettuce is an easy and preferred choice among hydroponic gardeners because they are simple to work with.
Preparation: Growing hydroponic lettuce can begin two weeks before the actual planting of the lettuce. To set up your garden, you will need a 5-gallon container with a lid such as an opaque plastic one. Transparent plastics will allow light to shine through and algae will form.
Growing Medium: You will need a growing medium for your lettuce such as Hydroton which has a neutral pH balance. Be sure to not use root cubes more than once. The lettuce seedlings should be inserted in the growth cubes and kept in water two weeks before you plant them in pots. While your root cubes are in water, you can prepare your garden container by cutting out holes on the lid. Once the holes are cut, you may insert the planting cones in the holes.
Nutrient Solution: The hydroponic nutrients you choose are the most important aspect to grow hydroponic lettuce. You can buy pre-made hydroponics solution or create your own. To make the nutrient rich water, you must have 2 teaspoons of the pre-made solution, 2 teaspoons of calcium nitrate and 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt. Each ingredient must be dissolved in a cup of water one at a time and then add all together in the 5-gallon bin. After the nutrients are added, you should fill the bin with water to the top.
Seedlings in Planters: After two weeks, you can add the seedlings to the planters. Place the root cubes with the seedlings in the planting pots or cones that are already placed in the lid. The lid should be closed tightly.
Lighting: For indoor growing, you can use grow lights or you can place your garden outside for natural sunlight.
Be sure to check the pH and water for consistency on a daily basis along with any pest problems. Growing hydroponic lettuce should not cause major pest problems, but it is important to always check. After a month, you will have full-grown lettuce for harvesting and using for salads.