New To Hydroponics, Advice Needed :)
I'm a 31 year old Architect living in Central America (Nicaragua), and I recently have been thinking about making a business of producing and selling Lettuce, hydroponically :)
In the picture I have attached you can see part of my Backyard hehe. These patios are used to dry Coffee Beans from my farm. But the Coffee tradition over here has dried out a bit, so I was thinking of putting these patios to good use.
Anyways, I have been reading and reading ... and reading again, and stumbled upon these Forums. Now, I know that they are supposed to be for Gardens (small perhaps?), but everyone seems so friendly that I just wanted to ask something that has me all confused regarding hydroponics.
I want to start producing around 350 Lettuce "Heads" (Romaine). 350 is what my buyer is willing to go for. So that's why I want to start with that.
I have been reading about the different systems and I have decided on the Floating Raft system (Deep Water I think it is called).
I need to know how many Lettuce heads I can 'fit' into each Styrofoam board. And what would be the exact placement of the plants. For example, I have seen that some people fit columns and rows of 4 by 3. Others have 2 by 4s.
Logic tells me that it does not have to be too long because I do not want the Styrofoam to break. I am planning on buying styrofoam from a normal shop, over here they do not have Hydroponic-Type Commercial products. So I basically have to build everything.
The other concern I have is the actual Tank Dimensions.
And that is also tied with the Air Pump and Air Stone equipment.. I mean, I don't want to buy 1 of each for every tank. I want to effectively use the least amount of equipment possible.
So, can anyone point to me in a proper direction for this fun and exciting project?
How long should my tanks run? How many tanks should I have?
Is it wiser to have a big tank with one Air Pump and Air Stone for my 350 plants? Or can I have 700 plants with the same equipment?
I will try and build a Green House too. But since I want to start out small, I will cut the cost of that significantly.
Well, enough for now. Thanks for your time and I hope my questions make sense. Maybe someone can just give me some general parameters.. lets say for example: "For 350 plants you need X Gallons of water and it would be best to fit said plants in a big container, having the rafts side by side in rows of 2". I'm just thinking in general terms.
Thanks a lot!