Welcome to another round of Grow Trials from your faithful trustees of all things leafy and green here at Grozine. Let’s have a look into our grow trials NFT lettuce week one, shall we?
In case you stepped out, a quick re-cap of events leading up to week one is right here, with photos:
In a nutshell, we will attempt a back yard hydroponics cool weather crop in the middle of summer here in Pacific North Western Canada. Why? Because there’s plenty of free light to be had, and our spot so far has maintained average reservoir temperatures of around 72 Deg F.
We are riding the red line when it comes to NFT lettuce growing in terms of temperature. While we do have a chiller available to keep the perfect temperature, we’d prefer to keep electric use at a minimum for this crop AND keep it as simple as possible. The system has been running outdoors, to get an idea of the conditions and iron out any kinks for a full week–empty of plants. In the meanwhile we started three types of lettuce and a kale variety indoors in climate control with T5 florescent lighting.
We most certainly do! A full flat of lettuce transplants hardly takes any space at all and the power for lighting used is minimal. We air condition as necessary indoors during summer months, so you might say we lived symbiotically with the needs of the transplants for our back yard NFT growing project. It’s worth mention that one of the drawbacks to T5s for growing is that the bulbs need to be replaced often-Induction Grow Lighting may prove to be a better long term solution. For our next round of seedlings, we are going to give an older model Plasma Grow Light that we have handy a try to compare the results, with attention to:
Firstly, we aren’t familiar with the system, or what kinds of reservoir and system conditions we will encounter in our spot until we try-indoors we have total control over the young plants when they are most sensitive. So a week “wet run” makes sense….and it just happens to be about the perfect amount of time for us to raise our seedlings until they are ready for the next step: transplant into the Nursery NFT Gully.
Interesting Observation: In the photo below, you can see slightly more growth in the seedling that got a few extra days indoors, with climate control and lighting versus the one that went into the system about 5 days after seeding. What you can’t see so easily from the photo though, is that the growth in the transplants that went outdoors in the NFT garden sooner are a little thicker leaved and overall “harder” while healthy.
As for the varieties in our slightly warmer growing conditions-about 75 Deg F avg. air temperature and drier RH levels from air conditioning-our “TT” organic lettuce seed variety is performing best. Interestingly we started some kale too, and planted a few earlier in the system along with the other test pilot transplants a few days ahead of the pack. Something likes to eat the tender little kale sprouts…and leaves the three lettuce varieties alone! Prime suspects at this time are little black ants–feel free to comment if you know who dunnit in a summer time back yard setting….the butler?
Erik Biksa has been writing about and discussing hydroponics growing, related technologies and cropping methods since 1999 in a variety of professional publications and platforms globally Erik has travelled the world learning and teaching modern growing techniques and technologies and is appreciated by many growers for his informative yet hands on approaches. Presently, he is the Editor at Grozine Hydroponics Mag.