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  1. I've given up trying to raise lettuce outdoors where I live. It's either too hot, the perfect temperature for slugs and snails to feast, or too cold to get any growth in the leaves. I even mounted plastic gutters to a trellis I have against the fence, several feet off the ground last Fall. The snails and slugs found it. AUGHHHH! The lettuce had finally started coming back, I went outside this morning to harvest it, and it was GONE. Something devoured it. So, after a bit of research, I've decided to try growing lettuce indoors with a full spectrum light. I researched hydroponics but it needs too many specialized products, so I'm going with shallow beds of soil. Question: I have a perfect spot. It's a tile counter 4'x2', with a place to hang a light, and it's a flat surface that pretty much is unused in our house. BUT, it's in a bathroom that is used constantly and has 2 cat litter boxes in it. I'm concerned that there could possibly be contamination from cat box dust and other things that float around in bathrooms. Since I plan on growing cut and come again varieties of lettuce, I'm not sure this is a good idea? Thoughts? The second spot is a place that is prime real estate in our house. It's the pantry/service porch counter top where everything gets thrown (sometimes it's stacked several feet high!) as we come into the house. But, it's tile as well and would hold up well to having growing beds placed there. There is also a place to hang a light and plenty of electrical outlets. But, it would require training my family, something that I'm not sure is possible . . . Then there is the option of simply continuing to purchase lettuce from the store. But we eat salad daily (I've been known to eat two salads a day) and while I supplement the store bought greens with home grown sprouts and other veggies, I would really like to find a way to grow our own lettuce. Especially this year with California in a drought - I can see the price of lettuce shooting out of reach. I've already planned to reduce the amount of annual veggies I grow and I've gotten rid of almost all of my non edible ornamentals, but lettuce and salads? I'm not willing to give those up. 85% of our diet is nondairy, vegetarian based with salad being the main course for most dinners. Part of the reason we eat this way is for cost savings as well as health reasons. But if prices respond to the drought the way I think they are going to, I'm not sure I can justify spending more for a head of lettuce than for a whole chicken or a beef steak. Any thoughts, insights, opinions greatly appreciated! P.S. There is also a budget constraint here. I researched the aerogardens and have been looking on craigslist, ebay, and thrift stores but no luck. Besides, those require special (i.e. expensive) supplements and growing mediums. I'd like to stick with dirt if possible. Dirt is free - I can make as much of that as I need!
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