Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hydroponic lettuce, is it worth it?

Today I moved some lettuce seedlings from the propagator into one of the bus tub ebb and flow systems. As you can see from the photo, each tub will hold fifteen net pots. With three ebb and flow systems growing under my T5 fluorescent fixture I can grow forty five plants in about eight square feet.

I don't know for certain, but I estimate the cost of electricity for the T5 light to be about five dollars a month. In any event, it is not making a significant difference in our lighting bill.

The air and water pumps use about as much electricity as an electric razor, and only run for a total of one hour per day. The cost to operate them is insignificant, to say the least.

The time to grow a plant from seed to completion will vary by the variety, but on average it is about 35 days.

So let's assume, including nutrients, I am investing about eight dollars a month on energy and supplies. Let's assume again that with proper planning, I harvest twenty five plants a month. That means each plant is costing me about thirty two cents to grow to completion.

Factor in the quality of the lettuce; absolutely fresh, blemish free, pesticide free, never touched by animal feces, and an incredible variety not available locally.

From my point of view, growing your own salad greens is another no-brainer.

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