Our plants have really taken off! Last week we increased the amount of nutrients from a 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. per gallon. The plants seem to really like this! The nutrients we are using are the from the Liquid Grow. We are still a little high with the pH, around 6.5 and the temperature of the water is still around room temperature, 70 degrees.
On April 17 we decided that our system was in need of nutrients and fresh water. We pumped out about 4 gallons and put the nutrients and pH down in each gallon to ensure that our plants were receiving what they needed. The temperature of the water is still steady around 71 degrees even though the lettuce does prefer cooler temperatures. It is difficult for us to maintain cooler water temperatures because we do not have control of the room temperature. But with the fresh water and nutrients, our lettuce continues to grow and is about 5″ tall!
So after the system was switched back, the lettuce has begun to re-hydrate and is looking good. The water is still a little high in pH, so the pH down was used. The lighting is still on for about 18 hours and with the increase in water the lettuce should continue to grow well.
So this morning we discovered that our plants did not do well over the weekend. We switched the system over to the nutrient film technique because some of the roots were becoming too saturated, but apperently they were not long enough to keep the plants hydrated. In hopes of bringing them back to life, we switched the system back, providing them with more water.
So, Monday I took our initial measurements of the plants, we are just short of 3″ for the tallest leaf. The pH was at 7.0 and the nutrients needed to be refreshed. I removed 3 gallons of water and replaced it with 3 gallons of water with the FloraNova liquid grow and also applied pH down to the mixure. Once the 3 gallons were introduced to the system, the pH read 6.4.
Also, our roots were begining to look a little water logged and brown, so we decided to open our water valve. This lowered the water level. As soon as the roots are long enough, we will fully implement the nutrient film technique by tipping the system 20 degrees.
The lettuce is looking good, and continues to grow. I added some pH down to the water to keep our water dropping to our goal pH. The system is still going strong and as soon as our seedlings’ roots are long enough, we can switch over to the nutrient film technique.
After being unattended during spring break, I was unsure of what I would find in our system. I was delightfully surprised to find that our seeds have sprouted! We have 3 healthy looking lettuce plants. They range from about a 1/4″ to almost 1″ tall. I took a pH reading, I was not surprised to find it high since it had not been monitored over the break. Since it was about 7.8, I applied pH down and will check on the reading tomorrow. I also removed a gallon of water and replaced it with a gallon with the liquid grow to replenish our nutrients to keep the seedlings healthy!
Our “little gem” lettuce seeds are planted and our system is up and running!
We created our system to function on ebb and flow during germination and then we will change over to the nutrient film technique once the sprouts are large enough. The ebb and flow system consists of a lower reservoir to hold the water and nutrients, a drain and overflow pipe, a pump to fill up PVC pipe, and 3 cups to hold the rock wool and seedlings. Once the seeds germinate, we will change the incline of the PVC pipe and start the nutrient film technique.
To keep the plants healthy, we are using the liquid plant food; it contains almost all of the recommended values of nutrients for lettuce we researched. Our pH is a little high at this time, but we are carefully monitoring and slowly lowering it to a range of 5.5 to 5.8 to best suit the lettuce. The lighting is set on a timer, providing an “outdoors” timeframe for their light exposure with the fluroescent lamps.