Growing Lettuce Without Soil: Advanced STEM Research

Peppi DelliQuadri ’22 with his Advanced STEM research project (photo: Conrad Katzander ’22)

In the Friedlander Science Building you can find an interesting room with ongoing independent scientific research projects. As you walk into the classroom, you see romaine lettuce growing without soil inside large tents. This is for the Advanced STEM Research class at Northwood. It’s a scientific research class where each student picks their own research project. Students are doing research on drones to collaborating with a local Orthopedic surgeon on a case report for a patient had knee replacement that got infected. The STEM program at Northwood allows students to work on hands-on projects of their choice and learn about the scientific research process.

Staff writer Conrad Katzander ‘22 interviewed Peppi DelliQuadri ‘22 about his research project.

KATZANDER: What Is the name of your project?
DELLIQUADRI: “Effects of Photoperiod on Growth of Baby Romaine Lettuce Using Ebb and Flow Hydroponics.”

What are you trying to learn? What’s your goal?
For my project I’m learning how to grow romaine lettuce without soil. Using water with Hydroponics in the room, we are determining the specific effects of photoperiods on the growth of little gem romaine lettuce growing inside grow tents using ebb and flow hydroponics.
The goal is to use the research process as I go, collecting data along the way, and documenting my whole process.

How long will this project take?
I did lots of research and found out that lettuce grows great in a hydroponic system. I decided growing lettuce for 45 days was a perfect amount of time, so that way I could test the results and harvest. It also is short enough that I could have another trial.

What are you using for materials?
The project is located in the science building, and it’s a closed system so we can control the humidity and temperature of the room for the lettuce. I am using hydrofarm megagarden systems with one LED in each tent. I use Masterblend 4-18-38 complete combo fertilizer for nutrients which I mix into the closed system. I started the seeds in rockwool before transplanting them into the system after 5 days of growth. I Check the pH every 3 days and I adjust the pH depending on if it’s too low or too high. And I track their growth.

Will you take research process with you wherever you go next?
Yes, I will take the research process with me as I plan to study agriculture in college.


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