Just over a month ago I got started in hydroponic gardening with the Lettuce Grow farm stand. I’ve been enviously eyeing these things at restaurants and neighbor’s yards for a while and finally decided to make the jump to getting one myself. I was tired of seeing my seeds and seedlings attacked my squirrels and birds, and wanted to move my garden into a protected screened porch area. This seemed like the perfect way to get as many plants as I could into a small area! (read to the bottom for the updates growing tips!)
Just looking for a promo code? Click here to save $50 off your own Lettuce Grow Farmstand with code: FRIEND-SE2U – (and I get $25 to put toward more supplies and seedlings, so I really appreciate it!)
Setting Up the Lettuce Grow Farm Stand
I was a bit intimidated at first when it arrived in many pieces, with cords and timers and things. But after watching a couple of videos (they have helpful videos for everything) and reading the instructions, I set it all up pretty quickly. I went with the five tier system, that stands a bit over 5′ tall and holds 30 plants.
The first thing to arrive will be your farm stand pieces, then a day or so later you get your starter seedlings. When you order, you can choose seedlings that are already three weeks old, so you get a jump start on your garden. Everything easily snapped together and in under 20 minutes, I was ready for my seedlings to arrive. One interesting thing to note- you will be setting up an automatic timer for the water, and that means pushing down a hundred (at least it seemed like 100) tiny pins so it can go 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off. The water running through it actually sounds quite nice, like a little fountain.
Putting in the Plants
Lettuce Grow sends everything you need in your starter kit, so you get little reusable cups that hold the plants, two packs of nutrients, a water testing kit and a Ph reducer. You’ll use these to add nutrients each week, and then test the water to make sure the Ph level is where it needs to be.
If you ordered seedlings, they will come in a box, ready to take out and pop into the little holder cups. Then you stick them in the holes and viola! You have a hydroponic garden! Since you get a jump start with the seedlings, you’ll be harvesting your garden in just a week or two.
Maintenance and Harvesting
I recommend downloading the Lettuce Grow app, which will send you reminders about adding nutrients, along with helpful instructions and tips. It also has a handy plant identifier tool in case you forget what you planted. Each week you’ll add nutrients and adjust the Ph, but the amount of nutrients varies.
There are tons of options as far as what you can grow, with the easiest and most popular being lettuce. So many different kinds of lettuce! I went with a few lettuces, spinach, herbs, cherry tomatoes, mini cucumber, mini peppers and one type of flower. You could do a whole tower of flowers if you wanted! I wanted to start with a bit of everything to see how things grow. The first thing I got to do was harvest the lettuces. We’ve had fresh salad for a couple weeks now. I pick a little and go back when we need more, letting them continue growing. I’m still waiting on the peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to bear fruit. They are growing and I can see little buds, but I haven’t gotten to pick anything yet.
Replenishing Your Lettuce Grow Farm Stand
Lettuce Grow has tons of options for seedlings that run about $2 each. In an effort to make this operation more cost effective, I decided to start my own seedlings since I can get probably 1000 lettuce seeds for that much. I spent $10 on a pack of 5000+ lettuce seeds in 10 varieties! Then I invested $20 in a pack of Rapid Rooter starter plugs, which are required for the hydroponic system. You can’t use regular dirt because it would all just wash away. This should set me up with lettuce for a while! *Click here to find the Rapid Rooter plugs on Amazon. I have tried a few other kinds and these were the best ones! The other styles don’t fit as well in the little grow cups.
I keep the replacement plugs growing in a separate area, so they are ready to replace whatever I harvest completely. Starting your own plants from seeds definitely takes much longer than buying the seedlings, but it will pay off over time. Every time I have an empty grow cup, I start a new seedling. I’ve found that lettuce seems to pop up the fastest.
However, I do enjoy getting those 3-week-old plants, so I’m sharing this review in hopes that interested people will use my friend code so I can cash that in for more seedlings and nutrients! Just looking at all the options makes me want to order everything. I highly recommend the Lettuce Grow system. It is easy to set-up and operate, and the pay-off is delicious organic homegrown food!
Update After Two Months with Lettuce Grow
I’m now just about two months in and I’ve learned a lot! There is a little more maintenance than I thought, but that is probably because it’s summer in Florida and my plants are getting bigger so they are sucking up a lot of water. So I’ve been refilling the tank a couple times a week to keep it at the right level. I also may be a little obsessive about filling it and it probably doesn’t need that much attention.
My plants are getting so big that I had to learn how to trellis them! You won’t have to do this if you just do lettuce and herbs, but I went for veggies like tomatoes, cucumber and peppers. I contacted Lettuce Grow and they got right back to me with a video that explained how to do it. There’s a hole already at the top on the lid, and you attach a screw eye to it. (that’s a screw with a circle at one end) And then use twine to create a trellis to hold up heavy or vining plants.
Everything is growing great and I’ve been getting lots of cucumbers, herbs and lettuce so far. Soon I’ll have tomatoes and peppers! In fact, my lunchbox pepper plants were getting so big that I moved them to my regular garden beds. I also did that with the parsley. I was worried they might not transplant well, but they flourished and are actually looking better than the other plants I had in there already. I moved the peppers to make more room, because I’ve never had a problem with pests or critters getting to my pepper plants so they are safe outside the screen.
After two months I ran out of the nutrients A & B and had to order more. I still have plenty of the PH Down and PH tester left. We’ve gotten so much from it already that I feel it will pay for itself eventually. Every time I pick a lovely organic cucumber I think, “There’s another $2 off.” And I usually combine two types of lettuce for a fresh mix that equals a $4 bag of store lettuce. Not to mention the endless supply of cilantro and basil I’ve had the past couple months. This is definitely the most prolific gardening venture I’ve had. I usually spend a lot of time and money and end up with like three beans and some pest-infested herbs. But not with this system! So after a couple months of use, I still highly recommend the Lettuce Grow Farmstand.
So if you are interested in starting your own hydroponic garden, be sure to check them out and Click here to save $50 off your own Lettuce Grow Farmstand with code: FRIEND-SE2U !
3 Month Update:
I finally got my first tomato today! I also am battling some pests, which I was hoping to avoid with the plants in a screened in area. But those pest will find a way in. The cool thing about the farm stand is that you can pop out the whole plant, hose off all the pests and stick it back in! I found a pesky caterpillar that was eating all the leaves and pooping on everything. I was blaming the lizards for the all the poop, but they are off the hook now.
I have gotten tons of cucumbers- so many I can’t even eat them all. And the transplanted pepper plants are flourishing in the regular garden beds. I tried soybeans and they got infested with tiny little black bugs and white eggs. It only affected them, so I took them out, hosed off the bugs and moved them to a regular garden spot to see if they would do good in the ground. I got one broccoli plant with my first seedlings, and it is getting big, with big leaves, but no actual broccoli, so I probably won’t try that one again.
Overall the hydroponic garden is a little more hands-on than I anticipated. It still requires tending and maintenance, but that’s because everything grows so well! The only thing you don’t have to do is water it every day. On an interesting note- I noticed my water bill for this time of year is lower than usual, and I think it is because I am not watering a big garden twice a day!