Vegetables and Fruit forum: Lettuce Entertain You....

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Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
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AlohaHoya
Apr 13, 2012 10:24 AM CST
I have NEVER succeeded growing lettuce here: too wet, too many bugs/slugs etc. - so I decided to try this method -

Thumb of 2012-04-13/AlohaHoya/c893a8

I did try this hydroponic method a few summers ago and was NOT at all successful - it was too hot and the lettuce bolted.

GREAT success now. Now I am growing about 20 heads of lettuce, and about to put in another 8 heads of another variety. When it gets too hot for this looseleaf type, I'll switch to Yukina (like bokchoy). I prefer using these bottles/jugs to keep them out of the landfill ... it makes me feel really virtuous!!!!!

So - here's the inspiration: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/hawaii/downloads/A_Suspended_Pot...

IN A NUTSHELL: once you set up the system (plant your bottle/jug/box) you simply walk away. NO watering, weeding...4-6 weeks later you harvest. In the meantime, you can cut off the outer leaves to use while the lettuce matures some more.

Here's a photo of a row of jugs I set up to plant along with what the 'net pot' and the forestry tube look like. After they are planted (or sewn with seed) I cover them with black plastic as in the first photo.

Thumb of 2012-04-13/AlohaHoya/c7c3d1

Here's an old ice chest (lid came off so I used a sheet of styrofoam to hold the pots) along with some jugs (used to hold kitty litter) already planted. The opaque jugs don't need to be covered with plastic.

Thumb of 2012-04-13/AlohaHoya/3819ed

Here's how I adjust the neck of the milk jugs to hold the small peat pots: make a mark around the neck of the jug where the widest part of the pot is, and then cut just inside of that mark. The pot will just nestle down in the hole.

Thumb of 2012-04-13/AlohaHoya/2ec7dd

If the opening in the jug is too large, I cut a 'collar' out of the bottom of a piece of junk plastic (yogurt/cottage cheese containers etc.) to hold whatever pot I am using.

Thumb of 2012-04-13/AlohaHoya/c8c664

Next project is going to be tomatoes growing in 4-5 gal. buckets....I have seen them growing and it is brilliant!!!! I am also going to try spinach this way too. Chard I can grow in the raised bed.

I use a Peter's Hydroponic fertilizer to which I add Calcium Nitrate and a bit of epsom salts.

Why so much lettuce? Well - I can share with friends and hopefully use it to barter for fresh eggs and perhaps other veggies I don't have room to grow.

BENEFITS? Quite a few from my point of view: EASY. Repurposing/recycling junk. Uses less water in the long run (not my problem here with 150" of rain per year). Can be done in a VERY small area like a balcony or a back porch. Easy to control nasty critters. Virtually don't need to worry about dirt and grit on the leaves.

Can you imagine how any plastic containers could be diverted from the Landfills?

It's all about choices.
[Last edited by dave - Apr 18, 2012 12:26 PM (+)]
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
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ctcarol
Apr 13, 2012 11:15 AM CST
Great idea!

Scooter007
Apr 15, 2012 10:04 AM CST
That is interesting, is the nurtrient solution the same for each type of plant? If not, how do you calculate for each plant.
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
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AlohaHoya
Apr 16, 2012 9:55 AM CST
The nutrient solution is per gallon of water....and yes, it is the same for each plant. That old ice chest has 15gal of water. Just planted 6 'asian greens'....
It's all about choices.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
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Trish
Apr 16, 2012 10:01 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Love this!! Good job, Carol!
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Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
Leap. The net will appear.
Charter ATP Member Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Permaculture Plant and/or Seed Trader Tropicals Farmer
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AlohaHoya
Apr 17, 2012 11:23 AM CST
Yup - necessity being the mother of invention!!! Hydroponic lettuce is about $2 a head here... I am starting to use lettuce en lieu of bread in sandwiches, as wraps (Larb Gai) so I like as much as I can grow!!!

Trying to source an organic fert that would work...don't know of any right now.....
It's all about choices.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
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Trish
Apr 17, 2012 3:17 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Dave would love love to get into hydroponics, but we just aren't ready to jump in just yet. Have you seen the videos on the set-ups with fish and the veggies? Brilliant.
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Apr 18, 2012 6:00 AM CST
A great idea, Carol.
In Northern climates we use the one gallon (four liter) milk jugs to start
our seedlings. It is called "winter sowing" , but we do it all year around.
Thumb of 2012-04-18/CarolineScott/47283d
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
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Charter ATP Member Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Permaculture Plant and/or Seed Trader Tropicals Farmer
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AlohaHoya
Apr 18, 2012 12:09 PM CST
Trish...yes, I've seen that set up....Aquaponics they call it here. Too much work in my book. I like the idea of setting it up and walking away.... Whistling Here's photos of the top and the underside of the 'cooler' tank:
Thumb of 2012-04-18/AlohaHoya/4727d2

The roots going after the water....

(not thrilled with the type of lettuce in here...a really lose leaf like Bib is so much better).
Thumb of 2012-04-18/AlohaHoya/a6bde4
It's all about choices.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Apr 18, 2012 12:31 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Thanks Carol, this is really interesting, and I'm going to read that PDF you linked to. You are an adventurous gardener, for sure!

Where did you buy your "Peter's Hydroponic fertilizer"?
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
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AlohaHoya
Apr 18, 2012 9:09 PM CST
At a local garden store here. I would rather use 'organic'...but it would be too high in protein and start to smell awful.... alas.... It's called Peters Hydro Sol. To one gallon of water you add 1 teasp. of fertilizer = 1/2 teasp. Peters, 1/4 teasp. calcium nitrate and 1/4 teasp. epsom salts. After the veggies are done...use left over water/fert in the garden and start afresh. I think that PDF file will blow you away...growing crops on 4' x 8' sheets of plywood in beds 4" deep!!!!

Would love to know what you think. Hey the kids could have their own lettuce farm for the market!!!!! Whistling
It's all about choices.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 19, 2012 7:21 AM CST
Thanks for sharing this, Carol -- I'd never heard of a "non-circulating" hydroponic system, thought it would be too complicated to try because of the pumps and such; this looks like it could be set up pretty easily indoors under lights, as well, and not having to worry about watering would be a huge plus. Heaven knows I have plenty of those kitty litter jugs!
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Apr 19, 2012 6:32 PM CST
Not hydroponic, but I wanted to share this photo of lettuce that I grew under my fluorescent lights, planted on 2/6 and the photo was taken on 4/2; I've now moved the planter out to my greenhouse, where the lettuce is still going strong, and have some more started under the lights. Never thought it would grow so well under the lights, there is obviously no reason I can't have my own lettuce growing all winter!! (the varieties are Winter Density (on the left) and Black Seeded Simpson)


Thumb of 2012-04-20/Weedwhacker/7262a8
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
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Trish
Apr 19, 2012 7:36 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Very good, Sandy!!

Our problem is heat....I'm finishing up my spring lettuce now, and going to trial some more greens for the summer...other than chard, we've never really gotten anything else to take. I'm going to keep plugging away at it, though...I *love* lettuce salads!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Apr 19, 2012 7:49 PM CST
Trish, your climate is so completely different than mine that I'm not sure I can even comprehend it... can you grow lettuce outside in the winter? (or whatever winter is where you are...) At any rate, I also love lettuce, and there are so many different varieties to try!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
Leap. The net will appear.
Charter ATP Member Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Permaculture Plant and/or Seed Trader Tropicals Farmer
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AlohaHoya
Apr 19, 2012 9:25 PM CST
Trish...There are some asian greens that I use for lettuce/spinach that seem to tolerate the HOT. HORENZO is one of them...tolerates heat very well, tastes just like english spinach and easier to grow. Kitazawaseed.com is a great site - and they have some cool recipes too!!! I am going to grow Akarenso, a hybrid.... Johnny's Seeds sells something called Vitamin Greens and also Yukina which I grow in the summer for salads.... Horenzo is great cooked or raw...just like spinach!! Looks different...but then so do humans!! Whistling I normally could grow lettuce thru May but...??? The weather guessers say we will have an unstable summer = overcast and cloudy and humid and.... Not all of Hawaii just our side of the island...unique from most other places in HI excapt Hana on Maui. - so it may be cool enough to grow it all summer....the real loose leaf kinds. The 'Vitamin Green" (what a name! how clever Glare ) is really 'just like spinach'..
It's all about choices.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Apr 19, 2012 9:30 PM CST
Thanks for those names, Carol! The weather gurus are predicting a hot, dry summer for us this year. I'll check those out.
Carol
Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
Leap. The net will appear.
Charter ATP Member Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Permaculture Plant and/or Seed Trader Tropicals Farmer
Dog Lover Garden Art Cat Lover Orchids Garden Ideas: Level 2
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AlohaHoya
Apr 19, 2012 11:16 PM CST
They are a family run business...and very open to talking to you about the right seeds for your conditions - or - even the best vinegar to use in their pickled daikon recipe!!! (I use Philippino Sugar Cane Vinegar... Whistling ) and the seeds are excellent.

Green Grin!
It's all about choices.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
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Trish
Apr 20, 2012 11:23 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Sandy- that's right- I grow all through the winter. To be fair, the frost will zap them back for several weeks, but they almost always stay alive and bounce right back. So, I can't actually harvest all winters most years. I think if I were really on the ball, I could do row covers and actually harvest all year, but I haven't been that good yet.

Carol- I'm off to check them out! I'm anxious to trial some out. I would do a full on trial with shade cloth....but that's not gonna happen this year. There's always next year for that! This year we'll just see what can be a survivor Green Grin!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Apr 20, 2012 12:14 PM CST
Trish, I made really simple covers out of PVC conduit and plastic sheeting, and kept lettuce alive all winter here (same zone, very different climate). Also had chard, spinach, pac choi, and a few other things in there. No frost damage except in a few places where the leaves were touching the plastic.

I can get about an extra month of lettuce in the early summer by moving the plants into full shade. I'm not sure if that would help in Texas, though, since your summers are much hotter than mine.

(Not to derail the thread, but I just noticed "soon to be 6"! Congrats!)

Carol, thanks so much for the tutorial. This looks like a great idea to try, a nice introduction to hydroponics for those of us who are intimidated by pumps and fancy equipment. Sorry if I missed this, but what is inside the net pot? Soil, or some kind of special media? And do you actually use the peat pots without them disintegrating?

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