Lettuce is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, folate (a member of the Vitamin B group) as well as being recognised to have anti-inflammatory properties, cholesterol-lowering agents and anti-diabetic compounds.
So if the lettuce is indeed dainty you probably don’t want to check out my recipe for my zesty falafel, halloumi and lettuce salad here either.
The thing is lettuce is almost necessary to our natural diets. The fibre alone keeps you digestively regulated that are disrupted by the strain of processing the manipulated foods we eat.
The second best part is that lettuce grows all year round and I have a cheap, no-energy consuming, viable method for growing lettuce for small spaces and produces a high yield.
It’s called the Kratky method.
Say we’re trying to grow 4 heads of lettuce.
Lettuce takes about 9 weeks to harvest from seed planting, so if you set up two seeds a week, you’ll have never ending lettuce.
Like forever lettuce.
So without further ado, here’s the step by step.
The Kratky method
What you need:
- Jars – one jar per lettuce head
- Lettuce Seeds
- Yogurt cups- or similar
- Drainage- I’m using gravel
- Plant food- soluble nutrients- it’s easier to buy than to source naturally unfortunately
- That’s all, don’t make it complicated
This method entails empty jars. Mason jars are the size you’re after but any jars will do.
So the first thing you want to do is grow your seeds.
If you plant your seed in its eggshell and get them grown until they have a little sprout out the top and some nice roots coming down, you’re set.
Secondly, you’ll be cutting up the yogurt cups.
I had leftover seeding trays that I upcycled when I bout some plants from the hardware store so I’ll be using those.
Look around your house or recycling bin for something you can use without having to go out and buy extra.
You’re going to be making slits all around the bottom half of the cup. The idea is to make space for the roots to come out of the bottom to sit in the water but not for the gravel or plant itself to fall in.
This is what the plastic store bought ones look like.
Next step is to mix your nutrients with the water.
Follow directions on the bottle. The one I got was cheap and had listed ingredients that I researched to make sure my lettuce wasn’t going to get covered in unnecessary chemicals because that slightly defeats the purpose.
The one I got is Manutec’s Hydroponic nutrient. There are two bags inside; one is the fertiliser and the other is calcium nitrate.
So following the directions you dilute in some water and you mix well.
So with your yogurt cups sitting in the jar, you fill the water so just the first cm or so of the cup is sitting in water.
Make sure there’s a little bit of an air gap at the top of the jar.
Next, you transfer your lettuce seedlings into the cup without any soil, and you put gravel around it so they sit flush.
You want the roots to head into the water solution and the gravel acts as a drainage system for the plant.
My fellow blogger http://www.greenandvibrant.com have the perfect graphic to describe what’s going on:
Finally, you want to cover the jar with something.
The water in the jar is nutrient rich and allowing sunlight to get to it will help Algae grow. These algae will steal all the lettuce’s nutrients.
I’ve wrapped the jars in the newspaper.
Voila. Hydroponic lettuce.
Almost no effort.
Lettuce should be a part of everyone’s diet but the price of food is ridiculous. And I call it food, not healthy food, just food. The point of food is sustenance, flavour and bonding.
The going rate for lettuce at my supermarket right now is $3.50.
That’s the price of a full course local meal in Vietnam.
For the price alone, I’ve sent $15 on this setup, using trash items most would throw out, and now I have lettuce forever.
This method is excellent for kids or anyone trying out hydroponic methods.
It’s economical, it’s super easy and accessible and can be used in small spaces like apartments and share houses as well as maybe having colder winters where frost would normally kill your leafy’s off.
One day I want to try and set up a system with siphons and fish but I travel too much and it’s not fair for the fish.
Let me know how you’re getting on with your garden or if you have any other no-fuss hydroponic systems worth sharing, leave me a comment.
Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.
For further reading on the sources I’ve used: