Can you really grow plants without soil? We're going to find out for ourselves in our science unit soon!
This past Thursday after school I had the privilege of touring Finger Lakes Fresh, a hydroponics greenhouse located right on Route 13 across from NYSEG. It was really cool to see how they grew their lettuce! In the greenhouse, computer-sensored lights and fans control the light and temperature to create a year-round growing season (as you can see in the picture below, it's snowy outside but beautiful, healthy lettuce is growing inside!)
and then once the seeds germinate
and the plant grows big enough, they cut up the pieces into squares and place them onto floating platforms. The roots soak up the pool of water underneath
and within one month (twice as fast as growing it in uncontrolled conditions like your garden outside) the beautiful leaves are ready to harvest!
They sell their lettuces to Wegmans (both here and Syracuse!), Tops, Price Chopper, Greenstar, and Ludgate Farms. In addition, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Cayuga Medical Center, Moosewood Restaurant, and The Heights Cafe and Grill buy the lettuce for serving. I've had this lettuce before and it is the best salad I've ever had! I highly recommend it!