Hydroponics Makes Perfect Salad Sense
Of all the vegetables that can be grown in a soilless environment, hydroponic lettuce is the easiest. It will take about 35 days for most Bibb-type lettuce to go from seed to your table. There are many types of leaf and Bibb lettuce varieties from which to choose. With the addition of a few other vegetables, you can have fresh, tasty salads every day of the year.
Lettuce is a plant that requires little root space. The short leaves require minimal support. These traits allow you to use a platform system of hydroponic gardening to grow lettuce. The raft will gently hold the plants while floating freely in the continuously recycled nutrient enriched water. A small oxygen pump will keep the water from becoming stagnant.
Traditional Hydroponic Gardens
Hydroponic lettuce can be placed around the edge of most soilless gardens. In fact, hydroponic gardens that use fine gravel or sand as a growing medium are great for growing lettuce. Placing lettuce around the outer edge of these types of systems will give your water garden a thick lush appearance. If you stagger the planting times of your lettuce, you can enjoy fresh lettuce every day.
Bibb Lettuce Varieties
Bibb lettuce form soft heads that peel apart easily. Some of the more flavorful types are the European Butter Crunch and the red curly varieties including Red Sails, Brunia and Ruby. Romaine lettuce grows well in hydroponic gardens as does Dano, Freckles Red and Berenice Green.
Leaf Lettuce Varieties
Leaf lettuce is a popular variety both in the hydroponic and conventional garden. These types of lettuce make tasty salads and are wonderful to use on sandwiches because the leaves lay flat. Some leaf lettuce varieties are colorful, streaked with red and purple. The European varieties are more suitable for hydroponic lettuces because they tend to bolt less due to temperature controls. Salina and Rex Lettuces are even less susceptible to bolting. Ostinata and Salina grow well, but do not tolerate high temperatures.
Both leaf and Bibb lettuce like a cooler growing temperature. Conventional gardeners usually plant these types of crops early and late in the growing season avoiding mid-summer high temperatures. By growing hydroponic lettuce the temperature, amount of daylight and humidity is controlled.
Tip burn is caused by water loss due to high humidity. Controlling temperatures using circulating air will prevent this problem.
Pests can invade the hydroponic garden as easily as they do in a conventional garden. Daily inspection of your hydroponic garden will ensure quick treatment for pests like whiteflies, thrips, and butterfly or moth larvae.