Versatile nutrient film process systems, or NFT systems, develop just about any kind of vegetable, including lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum). The system permits a thin film of hydroponic growing solution to flow steadily over the plant roots. Gravity requires the solution past the roots, and a cylinder brings it back to the peak of the system. The main benefits are highly oxygenated roots, ease of installation and takedown, and typically no growing media. Lettuce is simpler to develop than tomatoes in NFT systems.
Lettuce has the advantage over tomatoes in ease of installation and simplicity of substances. Although there are far more complex layouts, you can grow lettuce in channels formed by draping a sheet of plastic over a grid of two-by-four boards supported on sawhorses graded in height to offer a two- to 3-percent binder. Rumors need bigger and more substantial assistance due to their heavier root systems and branches. A frequent channel size for tomatoes is 6 by 8 inches.
Lettuce is better than tomatoes in shortness of harvest cycle. You can get a harvestable mind of loose leaf lettuce in a few weeks after putting the young lettuce in the developing channel. If you wish, you can harvest just the outer leaves for some time as you do to get soil-grown lettuce. In contrast to other hydroponic growing techniques, it’s relatively simple to wash the NFT installation after lettuce harvest and have another lettuce crop cycling during the next month. Tomatoes are a long-lived harvest hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. These crops can grow for decades.
Lettuce has a smaller root system than tomatoes, and because they’re shorter-lived, the roots don’t have as much potential for clogging up the developing channel as tomato roots do. As roots grow, the solution tends not to flow as freely to give the best benefits of an NFT system. The fluid goes over or around rather than through the roots. For lettuce, where you’ll change from the harvest after a few weeks, this is less of a concern than with tomatoes. Plastic channels with removable lids make it easier to check tomato roots for possible solution flow problems. In addition, it makes tomato setup and cleanup easier.
As growing crops use up the nutrient solution, it needs replenishment and eventual replacement. You can generally use the same nutrient solution for several weeks if it is occasionally enriched. This suits the harvest cycle of lettuce ideally, and you are able to replace the nutrient solution for your following harvest of lettuce. For tomatoes, you may have significant replenishment needs with the plant’s quick summer growth. Rumors require closer vein tracking than lettuce.