Hydroponics Update

Baby buttercrunch lettuce in Better Farm's new hydroponics setup.
Three weeks after hooking up a hydroponics kit in Better Farm's library, baby buttercrunch lettuce is thriving!

Buttercrunch is a heat-tolerant variety of lettuce with silky green leaves. A great salad choice, buttercrunch is a good source of vitamin A and phytonutrients. We like it because of its ability to grow year-round in any medium: all summer long outside, early spring in raised beds, and throughout the winter in our aquaponics and hydroponics.

We had a couple minor troubleshooting issues with the hydroponics, mostly dealing with water levels and amounts of pea gravel. Too little gravel and too much water at first threatened to drown the immature plants. I added pea gravel last night to each container, which helped—but was extremely tedious because I had to first carefully remove the plants and then add additional gravel. To offset this additional mass, I removed some of the water and added it to some houseplants. The organic nutrients in the hydroponics water should work as steroids for those other plants.

The buttercrunch seedlings first appeared less than a week after we set up the tank; and are now firmly rooted in the pea gravel. In three to four  more weeks, we should have our first bumper crop of lettuce. We're replenishing our nutrients every two weeks to keep the plants hearty and healthy. Stay tuned for our taste test in a couple of weeks!

Got a group interested in learning how to set up aquaponics or hydroponics? Better Farm offers private workshops! Get in touch at info@betterfarm.org.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.