Well, I guess I could synchronize the Roman numeral in the title with the number of weeks that this experiment has been going on, so let’s do that. Week three and the lettuce is still growing, albeit much slower than I would have hoped. The literature says that, with hydroponics, plants can grow up to twice as fast, although that has not been my experience so far. This could be for a couple of reasons, both of which are due to my own inexperience:
- I now believe that I transplanted my little lettuce babies way before they were ready. As a result, their roots did not get a chance to develop to the degree that was necessary for proper growth (see, this is what happens when excitement overrules prudence and patience). Their root systems are probably going to be permanently compromised all the way up until harvest time.
- Secondly, the lighting I am using is just a standard fluorescent light bulb that fits into a lamp that can be clamped on to the edge of a table. Since I’ve read quite a bit about grow lights, I can safely say that an ordinary fluorescent bulb is not going to offer the plants the natural lighting that grow lamps provide. As a result, growth is probably somewhat delayed.
All things considered, however, the lettuce babies are all growing into small children. The largest one is perhaps three inches high. Color is good, and with no indications of any nutrient troubles showing in the leaves yet. I have changed out the nutrients one time so far and will continue to do so about once every 7-10 days.
I’m still quite smitten with this whole idea of growing things in nothing more than nutrient-rich water. Why it fascinates me so I’m not quite sure, although I suppose it has something to do with my memories of a backstage walking tour I took several years ago at Walt Disney World in Orlando, while visiting Epcot’s Living with the Land pavilion. There, you can take the slow moving boat ride through a variety of hydroponic greenhouses, and also view the fish aquariums that are part of their aquaponics efforts.
Once finished, you can also participate in a more up close and personal walking tour of the same areas. A knowledgeable tour guide provides you with more detailed explanations about the technology behind those amazing plants growing in ways that are anything but conventional agriculture.
It was truly beyond belief what can be accomplished with these innovative growing techniques involving technologies that are much more mature than I had realized. Now that I’ve caught the bug, myself, I am once again astonished at the selection of online products offered to the home hydroponics hobbyist. This thing has really taken off and it’s just terrific!
I didn’t want to drop a lot of cash into this project initially, in case things did not work out. My initial interest in hobbies tends to wane, and I am more aware of this about myself as I get older. So a conservative approach is about all that I allow myself, at least in the beginning. I still feel a general enthusiasm about hydroponics, however, so it’s probably time to invest in a second system to sit side-by-side with the first. Maybe get my first grow light. And something to test pH. And…
Looks to me like the beginnings of a commitment, and what could be better than that!
Update No 4 coming in about a week.
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