Growing Lettuce in Hydroponics System
For this article, I will be discussing how to prepare the growing boxes and running the SNAP hydroponics system. Last time I talked about the importance of hardening and how to transplant lettuce seedlings. So this procedure is from University of the Philippines Los Baños, College of Agriculture and Food Science, Institute of Plant Breeding. I also put some tips based on my actual observation and experience during my first trial.
Preparing the Growing Boxes
Styrofoam boxes (boxes of imported grapes). This is kratky method and for NFT, it’s PVC.
Tin can with top removed and the circular edge sharpened
Polyethylene plastic bag (20″ x 30″, 0.003 mm thick)
Make 8 holes on the lid or cover of the box using the tin can borer. Just to give you a tip, we burned the tin can so it will be easier to make holes.
Use the plastic bag as liner of the bottom half of the box to make it fit to hold the nutrient solution. Suggest that you tape it perfectly so that the water will not leak.
Use packaging tape to close all the open slits of the lid/cover to prevent entry of mosquitoes.
Running the SNAP hydroponics system
SNAP nutrient solution
Benches (optional) – where the growing boxes will be placed. For our case, I asked my father to build a greenhouse.
Rain shelter / shed or roof awning. I purchased 150 microns UV plastic for our greenhouse.
For good growth of the plants, locate the SNAP hydroponics where it will best receive the morning sunlight, the earlier and longer, the better. It should be under a roof awning (while it also receives sunlight) or a transparent shed to prevent the rain water getting into the system.
Linearly arrange the growing boxes on the level ground or bench with covers removed.
Fill each growing box with about 10 liters of tap water.
Add 25 ml of SNAP A into each box with water and stir well.
Add equal amount of SNAP B to each box then stir well again.
Put cover/lid on the box.
Place the seedling plugs into the holes on the lid or cover. See to it that all cups are “plugged” in the holes properly.
Make sure that the bottom of the cups is touching the nutrient solution by 1/2 inch deep, not any deeper or shallower. If not, add more tap water until the desired depth is reached.
Examine the boxes for leaks and make the necessary troubleshooting.
Visit the set up every morning as early as you can to catch any insect larva that may eat the plants (the larva is visible every morning, after that they tend to hide from the sun and maybe harder to find)
Expect the nutrient solution level to recede faster when the plants are much bigger than when they were still seedlings.
For vegetables to be grown for one month, there is no need to make any replenishments.
For vegetable that will be grown longer than one month, replenish weekly using fresh nutrient solution provided that at least upper half of the roots remains un-submerged and exposed to the air.
It is more practical to prepare the nutrient solution in a 200-liter drum instead of mixing the SNAP solution from Styrofoam box to another.
What I like about growing lettuce in hydroponics system through kratky method is that it’s so easy to maintain, literally plant and forget. And because of my little time during weekends as I am tied-up with my corporate job, it’s so perfect for me. My current work is like driving in fifth gear, during weekends and when I am inside my greenhouse, I get to slow down, ease my tension and reconnect with nature through my plants. For my first successful harvest, I turned my passion into business. Isn’t it marvelous? I am already thinking of expanding soon. Follow MyKmagazine for more gardening tips!