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Greenhouse lettuce explained

Greenhouse lettuce is lettuce grown in a hydroponic greenhouse that allows for a controlled environment, enabling year-round production in optimal conditions. 

What is greenhouse lettuce?

Greenhouse lettuce is a type of lettuce that is grown in a controlled hydroponic greenhouse environment. Hydroponics allows plants to grow without soil, and instead uses nutrient-rich water solutions to deliver essential minerals directly to the roots. Lettuce grown in this environment consistently produces high-quality crops that maintain all the nutrients you would expect to find in soil-grown lettuce.  

Why grow lettuce in a greenhouse?

The need for sustainable food production is more important than ever to meet the rising demand for high quality food and growing global population. A production system that allows lettuce to be produced en masse while also conserving resources and removing the risks typically associated with farming is drawing much attention from lettuce growers across the globe.  
In a greenhouse setting, temperature, humidity, light and other factors are regulated so plants can grow year-round. This controlled environment protects growing plants from pests, diseases and extreme weather events which results in higher yields and more consistent quality. For farmers, this environment can be advantageous as they can streamline operations and save on time, money and space.  

How to grow lettuce in a greenhouse

Lettuce is known as one of the more straightforward hydroponic crops to grow, and it is also relatively inexpensive to maintain due to the low-light and low-temperature conditions it thrives in. For farmers looking to set up their own hydroponic system, or avid gardeners looking to start greenhouse gardening, there are a few steps to take:  

1. Select a hydroponic system  
Select an appropriate hydroponic system for your space and needs, such as nutrient film technique (NFT), deep water culture (DWC), or vertical hydroponics. Install the necessary equipment, including reservoirs, pumps, tubing, and grow lights. 
2. Choose the right lettuce variety  
Choose a lettuce variety that is well-suited to hydroponic environments, such as butterhead, romaine, or leaf lettuce. It’s important to consider factors like growth rate, flavour, and disease resistance.  
3. Start seeds or seedlings  
Depending on your preference and space available, you can start lettuce plants from seeds or purchase seedlings from a nursery. If starting from seeds, sow them in a growing medium like plastic gullies or oasis cubes. 
4. Maintain optimal conditions  
Continually monitor the greenhouse environment to ensure that ideal temperature, humidity and light conditions are maintained. Adjust the nutrient levels in the hydroponic solution as needed and keep an eye out for signs of any pests, diseases or nutrient deficiencies.  
5. Harvest the plants  
Once the lettuce has reached a desired size, harvest the plants with sharp scissors, cut the leaves near the base of the plant to allow the remaining leaves to continue growing.  

What are the benefits of growing lettuce in a greenhouse?

Growing lettuce in a greenhouse offers financial and environmental benefits. The soil-free method uses up to 90% less water than traditional farming methods and can recycle water efficiently. Hydroponic greenhouses are also space-efficient, allowing for up to four times more plants in the same area which has cost-savings for farmers, improving overall profits.  
With year-round growing in a controlled environment, the need for nasty pesticides and herbicides are eliminated, resulting in a nutrient-rich plant that stays fresher for longer.

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