Lettuce – Red Sails

Perhaps you don’t have a lot of room in your house, but you would like to try growing something, using the simplest method possible.  Then this post is directed at you.  Here is my plan:

  1. red-sailsI will be growing Red Sails lettuce, a fast-growing variety which has always done well for me in the past.
  2. Plant will grow in a 1/2-gallon glass canning jar, and I will cut a 2-inch hole in the plastic lid to hold the net-pot.  I will need to monitor the fluid level to make sure it doesn’t run dry, and add more fluid as needed.
  3. I will use the simplest fertilizer blend that I have: Dyna-Gro’s Liquid GROW 7-9-5, a 1-part liquid fertilizer concentrate.
  4. The plant will grow beneath a fluorescent light bulb under my kitchen cabinet.  My bulb is a 2-foot T8 Daylight (6500K) bulb.

Jan 7, 2016 = Day 0.  Plants started from seed (Botanical Interests).  Seeds sowed in 1.5-inch rockwool cube in 2-inch net-pot.  Moistened with dilute fertilizer solution: 1 mL (1/5 tsp) Dyna-Gro Liquid GROW 7-9-5, 1 mL pH Down per gallon of tap water.  N-P-K (in ppm): 18-10-11.  pH = 6.0.

Jan 11, 2016 = Day 4.  Plant germinated, placed directly under a fluorescent light (2 ft. T8 bulb, 17W, 6500k) for 16 hours per day.

Jan 16 = Day 9

Jan 20, 2016 = Day 13.  Installed plant into 0.5-gallon glass jar (8 cups).  Hydroponic solution composed of 0.5 gal tap water, 3 mL Dyna-Gro Liquid GROW 7-9-5.  N-P-K (in ppm): 111-62-66.  pH = 6.0.  No pH adjustment required.  The glass jar was wrapped in foil to keep light out,  which prevents algae growth.

Jan 25 = Day 18

Feb 1 = Day 24.  Thinned to just one plant in net-pot.

IMG_20160206_131946429 (1)
Feb 6 = Day 30

Feb 14 = Day 38.  Plant has used almost half of the hydroponic fluid in the container.  Just over 4 cups of fluid remains.  Leaves can now be harvested at any time.

IMG_20160214_113914601 (1)
Feb 14 = Day 38

Feb 24 = Day 48.  Plant has used 75% (6 cups) of the original hydroponic fluid, only has 2 cups remaining.

IMG_20160224_104652996 (1)
Feb 24 = Day 48

Mar 1 = Day 54.  Harvested all leaves.  Final statistics:  6 cups (0.375 gallons) of fluid used.  Final pH of fluid < 4.0.

IMG_20160301_161607388 (1)
Mar 1 = Day 54

The final pH of this Liquid GROW-based hydroponic solution was very low (pH < 4.0) which is consistent with what was observed when I grew Marvel of Four Seasons lettuce in this post.  The root system looked better when I used the MasterBlend fertilizer, so I will probably switch back to using that for my hydroponic solutions, even in small-scale (< 1 gallon) applications.

In conclusion, I have shown how easy it is to grow a fine looking and tasty head of lettuce, using a very simple hydroponic set-up consisting of a small 0.5-gallon container, the Liquid GROW all-in-one fertilizer, and a standard fluorescent light bulb on my kitchen counter.  Give it a try!

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