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How do I Grow Hydroponic Lettuce?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Hydroponics centers on nurturing and harvesting plants through the use of water as a base rather than soil. One popular vegetable among hydroponic practitioners is lettuce. Hydroponic lettuce growing is an enjoyable and relatively simple process, according to its many proponents. Proper seed, container, and water preparation are essential to this process, however.

Many lettuce enthusiasts favor hydroponic growing systems for their convenience of use and their nutrient-rich taste. Both of these advantages of hydroponic lettuce growing derive from the absence of soil in the gardening process. No soil means less maintenance and watering requirements, and the nutrient-heavy water used in place of soil transfers more nutrients to the growing plants, thus enhancing taste.

Although different lettuce seed types may be utilized in hydroponic lettuce growing, a type called bibb often produces the best results. Seeds in pellet form are also easier to handle due to the relatively tiny size of lettuce seeds. The seeds must be prepared before hydroponic growing, so they should be placed in a small container or a growth medium where they can grow. Square devices with holes known as growing cubes are commonly used in hydroponic gardening. After securing the seeds in the growing cubes with duct tape, a grower should place them in a dish of water for about two weeks.

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Container preparation is another important aspect of hydroponic lettuce growing. A plastic container will do, and the container should be both large and dark to foster optimal growing conditions. Using a container that does not allow sunlight inside will prevent the growth of harmful algae. Holes should be cut into the lid of this container as placeholders for planting cones. The cones are slender objects that will ultimately house the seeds, and they may be purchased at most gardening retailers.

Naturally, proper water plays a vital role in hydroponic gardening. The growing container for hydroponic lettuce growing should be filled with water, typically around 5 gallons (about 18.9 liters). A mixture containing nutrients should be added to this water, consisting of additional water, hydroponic fertilizer, calcium nitrate, and magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt. All measurements of these solutions run around 1 to 2 teaspoons (about 4.9 to 9.8 milliliters). Once the nutrient mix and water have been placed in the container, the contents should be vigorously stirred until no individual particle traces remain visible. Water measurements in particular need to be precise, as over-watering can hinder growth.

The final steps in hydroponic growing involve placement and simple waiting. Seeds prepped following the two-week waiting period are placed, along with their growing cubes, in the container lid’s planting cones. The cones will keep the seeds in contact with the nutrient water mixture. Next, a grower should put the container in a dry location with equal amounts of heavy and less intense sunlight. After this process is complete, the grower must wait to see if the fruits of his or her labor will be realized. The growing period should last roughly four to six weeks.

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