The Hydroponics Experiment (Part 4 – Time-Lapse)

Lettuce Time-Lapse (Emoji Thumbnail)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 the Kratky method is pretty hands-off, I wasn’t sure if I set it up right. Did I kill my cute little plant? I wasn’t sure if the roots would reach the water. I wasn’t sure if the nutrient mix was too strong or too weak. I wasn’t sure if the pH level would be an issue. The NYC tap water had a pH level that was a bit too high for growing lettuce. But after adding the nutrients to the water, the pH level dropped way lower than I expected.

I couldn’t really tell if my plant was growing or dying. Creating a time-lapse video was a definite way to see signs of life. With my new iPhone SE, I could actually use the iOS Time-Lapse option.

On the first try, my battery died before the day was out. I didn’t really see much of a difference. Apple’s “Camera” app automatically edits the images into a short video. I couldn’t tell how much time transpired. The next day, I plugged the iPhone SE into the wall. This ensured a constant stream of power. After eight hours, I checked the results…

Even with hours compressed into less than a minute, it was still tough to see a difference. But by quickly cycling through the frames, I could see a slight change. I further edited the video down to about two seconds. The results are a technical mess. With the harsh purple light, it’s difficult to see. The plant itself is out of focus too. Yet, I was able to see the result I was looking for – life!

My little plant was alive. It was growing. And in the background, I could see that its friends were growing too. The other germinating seeds are almost ready for transplanting. If this project continues to follow the plan, I should have a lot of lettuce really soon.