Since this is my first shot at hydroponics, some mistakes are to be expected. Although, after battling with a few recent issues, I started losing enthusiasm with this project. My imagination hit reality. I wasn’t seeing big leafy lettuce. Instead, I started seeing green slime on the Jiffy pods. I started wondering if I should just have gotten an AeroGarden. There certainly would have been less fuss. But instead of giving up, the project just needed some rethinking.
What’s nice about hydroponics is that the pace is slow and predictable. About two weeks after the first seed was placed in a Jiffy pod, a sprout was ready for transplanting. I moved the Jiffy pod – including the plant – into a net cup. Rocks were neat placed to fill the insides of the net cup. A circular hole was cut in the lid of a plastic container, allowing just enough space for the 3-inch net cup. With the nutrient and water mixed, that was it. The lid was sealed. The only thing left to do was to wait for my first head of lettuce.
While waiting for the lettuce seeds to grow, I started to rethink my process. I don’t think I needed to spend nearly $40 on a hydroponics bucket kit. Instead of a deep water culture setup, with lots of air bubbles, I decided to try the “Kratky” method. It is extremely low maintenance, but should produce similar results. Now that I don’t need to run an air pump, this should be quieter and cheaper too. The new plan is for five one-gallon containers, instead one five-gallon bucket. Being easier to move, that also makes the project more manageable.
Calculating the Pythagorean Theorem is classic assignment of a high school Geometry class. The fifth installment of a free Hype template makes short work of that task. A2+B2=C2 is easy to remember, but it can tedious to figure out – square the two known numbers, add those numbers and then find the square root. Even with a calculator, keeping track of all the variables can be tricky. But with this template, it’s simply a matter of moving two sliders.
Less than two weeks into my hydroponics project, I can easily surmise the life of a farmer. It’s hard work. Now that all of the supplies are here, I can start growing lettuce. This is shaping up to become one expensive salad. I just don’t get how lettuce is so cheap. With all of the details involved in this project, I’m surprised that a head of lettuce isn’t $10. The next time I walk into a grocery store, I feel like I’m going to have a much different perspective.