GEORGETOWN, Texas - The summer heat is unforgiving, particularly this year. Day after day, central Texas hits above 100 degrees with no break of rain.
It's a challenge to keep just about any kind of outdoor plant alive right now, even for farmers.
One Georgetown lettuce grower said he thinks he has a solution to beat the heat and save on water.
Kyle Massey owns Lone Star Lettuce Growers.
Traditionally, lettuce doesn't grow in the summer in central Texas; unless it's in Massey's organic hydroponic farm.
"With this type of setup, we can grow lettuce year-round, even in the brutal Texas summer we are having," said Massey. "It's about as happy as lettuce can be, so it’s just growing superfast."
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It starts as seedlings.
"These guys are under lights for about 16 hours a day, so they get everything they need. They have water, they have airflow, and they have, and they have enough sunlight to grow into healthy young seedlings," said Massey.
In about 21 days, its roots are transferred and submerged in 7 to 8 inches of water.
While it may sound counterintuitive, Lone Star Lettuce Growers saves water by using water.
"We save a lot of water because all of this water is completely recirculated, and there’s absolutely no waste," said Massey.
Massey said hydroponics uses about 90 percent less water than traditional farming.
"We hope to go somewhere between one to two years before we have to do a larger refill," said Massey. "It still wouldn’t be all of the water. We may drain out a third of it and put in some fresh water that gives us a little nutrient boost."
Once the lettuce is fully grown, it heads to local wholesale buyers and the Lakeline Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"It'll stay fresh for weeks in the fridge," said Massey.
And, Massey added, perhaps this is a trend Texans can expect to see grow.
"This is the future in that you can grow things in a greenhouse, year-round in this harsh Texas climate."