Small Scale Hydroponic Lettuce


Lettuce is expensive. Romaine (most likely) imported from California cost me $2.49 per pound on sale this weekend. Let’s not even get started on locally grown Manoa lettuce — although it stays crisp longer, tastes better (to me anyway), and requires way less carbon to get from the field to my face (see Why Local Food? Part 2 for more).

So I’m taking matters into my own hands and growing lettuce on my lanai using a simple hydroponic system for growing short-term vegetables (watch out for the PDF). It’s a method developed locally at the University of Hawaii that requires nothing more than a one-gallon container, a little net pot (bought @ a hydroponic store a while back, but I could have made something out of an old nylon), some sphagnum peat moss, nutrient juice, and seeds. I’m using anuenue lettuce seeds. And in keeping with my portable recyclable garden plan, I picked up a one-gallon container from Goodwill. UH also suggests a gallon milk or juice jug.

Anyway, I put the set up together about a week ago and I got a couple little guys! Cute, right? Only one will survive, since there’s only enough nutrients for one head (sad face).

But this set up is still awesome for two reasons:
#1: It will not cost me $2.49 per pound, even with the nutrients
#2: I can set it and forget it!

If all goes as planned, 4-5 weeks from now, I’ll be munching cheap, homegrown lettuce. Wouldn’t this be a cool experiement to do in science/health/nutrition classes? Yay local!