Growing lettuce is just one of the ways shipping containers are being used for farming.
In fact, they can grow many types of crops, including varieties of herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
But lettuce is one of the easiest and most common crops to grow in shipping containers.
In this article, you’ll learn about how shipping containers grow lettuce and how you can do it too.
How Does It Work?
Growing lettuce in shipping containers doesn’t use the methods of growing you’re used to.
To make the most of the relatively small space available in a shipping container, soil is not used.
Instead, soil-less systems, like hydroponics, are installed in the shipping containers.
These systems use water mixed with special fertilizer, also known as nutrient solution, to grow plants instead of soil.
And they’re usually built in vertical rows to fit as many plants in 320 square feet as possible.
Different growers have different preferences for the type of hydroponic system they use for growing lettuce in shipping containers.
These systems use trays or channels. The plants sit on top with their roots hanging down into the middle.
Then, nutrient water is pumped through the roots to the other side of the tray, where it is captured and reused.
Because hydroponic systems can catch and reuse water like this, growing lettuce in shipping containers uses significantly less water than growing them in soil outdoors.
This is just one benefit of growing lettuce in shipping containers.
We already know shipping containers grow lettuce with nutrient solution instead of water and soil.
But what about the light?
The popularity of indoor farming made grow lights effective, affordable and accessible.
Growers install grow lights inside the shipping containers instead of using natural sunlight.
Read our article, “Grow Light vs. Sunlight: Is Natural Light Really Better Than Artificial?” to learn more about using artificial light instead of sunlight to grow plants.
In addition to saving water, there are many benefits of growing lettuce with a shipping container.
One benefit is that it produces higher yields than traditional methods.
This is due to multiple factors.
First, hydroponic systems use less horizontal space because the roots don’t need to grow out, just down, to find food.
Second, the plants are grown in vertical rows, allowing for more plants to be grown per square foot.
Third, the lettuce is grown in a controlled environment, so it’s protected from factors that usually destroy harvests.
These factors include weather, insects, wildlife, weeds and more.
In conventional farming, farmers lose anywhere from 40% to 80% of their crops to insects, weeds, diseases and animals globally.
Plus, the best shipping container farms use controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to control the temperature, humidity and other aspects of the growing conditions.
This makes plants grow faster, stronger and healthier, and results in higher yields.
But how do you actually grow lettuce in a shipping container?
Growing Lettuce in Shipping Containers
Growing lettuce in shipping containers is easy!
There’s a reason, lettuce is one of the most popular hydroponic crops.
It loves water, doesn’t need as much light as other crops and grows relatively quickly!
Once you’ve got your hydroponic shipping container set up, all you have to do, is plant some seeds and then transplant them to your hydroponic system when they’re big enough.
Keep the environment cool, an air temperature of 45 to 75 degrees will give you the best results.
Mix your nutrient solution per the manufacturer’s instructions, and make sure your water’s pH is between 5.6 and 6.2.
If you grow a leaf variety, you can keep your crops growing and only harvest a few leaves from a plant at a time.
Or you can harvest the entire head at once.
For more details on growing lettuce in a shipping container, read our article, “How to Grow Hydroponic Lettuce.”
To learn how you, or your business can start farming in shipping containers, visit our website or call 602-753-3469.