@wsnook Here is the post you requested on how I do my growing.
First the disclaimer: I am very sloppy in what I am currently doing, and I have had only one ‘successful’ batch.
As you can see from the picture, I have two set-ups. One is a coffee jar with an airstone in the bottom, the other is a bus tub with a small pump that flows water up and onto the base of the plants.
Seeds are started in .75 inch (cut down from 1.5 inch cubes) blocks of rock wool.
Growing is in 3 inch plastic net pots, filled with aquarium gravel (I need to find something other than the gravel).
I started with 5 LED strips (recycled from refrigeration cases), but these have proven to be under power; and lacking easy access to more, I have suplimented them with GE Bright Stik (100w equiv) in a metal reflector. The strips by themselves were about 108 PAR at 3 inches, 92 at 6 inches and 38 at 12 inches. The GE bulbs were 575 at 3 inches, 182 at 6 inches and 48 at 12 inches (this was a quick and sloppy reading with a borrowed PAR meter). LUX (at 6 inches) is about 4,000. If starting over, for quick and cheap I would go with several GE bulbs ($7 each), or upscale to a CREE XLamp LED, or possibly one already in a module. I have one and it came in at 3,600 PAR at 3 inches!!!
With just the 5 strips my lettuce was very leggy and poor roots. I upped the light and now like the results.
This is just the house humidity, no supplementation: 35% to 40%. Leaves near the circulation fan can dry out on the tips.
I started with Jack’s 20-20-20, but thought it was part of my initial problem (poor roots, leggy, …) and switched over to Jack’s hydroponic plus calcium nitrate. Now that the lights are going, I don’t think there is that much difference. Mix according to directions. I have 1 qt in the coffee jar and 4 gallons in the bus tub.
I empty everything every 2 weeks (and clean things out) and make up a new solution. I need to check EC and pH sometime .
I punch a 3/16 inch hole in the rock wool and drop in a seed. You see two seedlings sitting in the tray near the lights. I keep them there for about 10 days before moving to the containers (per Cornell instructions). Right now, they get the same light (18 hour on/6 off) as the other plants. I start fertilizer after they emerge. Doing them this way I have to be careful that they don’t dry out (damage the roots).
After the 10 days I put them in the pots. I need to find something other than gravel, as the transplanting seems to damage the roots and put them in shock for a couple of days. I may need to not be so cheap and use the full rock wool cube. I don’t know exactly how long they take to mature. The one in the coffee jar was struggling under the old lights, and took off with the additional light. I ripped off some lower leaves for a salad, so there is no ‘maturity date’. I am guessing they take about 6 weeks. Looking at the coffee jar, I may need to get out the balsamic vinegar tonight.
I hope this is of some help to you.