Along with being one of the simplest hydroponic systems to set up and maintain, the Kratky Method is also one of the most flexible techniques because of the various containers you can use to grow your home garden. From mason jars to large totes, they Kratky Method of growing can be set up in just about any location.
Getting started with the Kratky Method
If you have already done some research, you know that hydroponic gardening does not require the use of soil to grow plants. Instead, plants are grown using nutrient solutions, which provides the nutrients they need to thrive. In many hydroponic systems, gardeners need several important pieces of equipment, including air pumps, airstones, valves. The Kratky Method, however, needs none of that, which is why it has become one of the most popular techniques for hydroponic growing among gardeners, especially those just looking to get started.
The Kratky Method was developed by Bernard A. Kratky, a horticulturist at the University of Hawaii, in 2009. In a scientific journal, Kratky explained that plants could be placed in net pots on boards that float in a reservoir containing a nutrient solution. As the water levels decreased, it would create a gap of air allowing the plants to take in much needed oxygen. By the time the nutrient solution was gone, the plants would be ready to harvest.
One of the most attractive things about the Kratky Method is that it takes only a few, inexpensive materials to get started. Here is what you will need:
- Plants/Seeds – Begin your hydroponic growing system with young plants or seeds. The types of plants you choose to grow in your garden will determine the size containers you will need.
- Container/Reservoir with Lid – Based on the size of the plants you expect to grow, and the size of your hydroponic garden, you will need to select containers. For smaller plants, such as leafy green vegetables, a smaller container, such as a milk jar, will work. If you plan to grow more fruit-bearing plants, such as tomatoes or peppers, you may want to start with a 5-gallon bucket. Your container will also need a lid to hold the net pots, as well as protect the plants from pests and diseases.
- Net Pots – Net pots will hold your plants above the growing solution in your hydroponic system. Choose the size of your net post based on the size of the plants you intend to grow.
- Growing Medium – A variety of materials can be used as a growing medium in hydroponic gardens. One example is pebbles, which help to support young roots that are carrying nutrients throughout your plant for its development.
- Nutrient Solution – In nature, plants absorb nutrients and elements they need for development through the soil. Hydroponically, these nutrients are provided through a solution you can customize. Look for solutions that are good for the type of plants you choose to grow.
- pH Tools & Control Kit – Monitoring the pH levels in your system is an important step in keeping your plants healthy and thriving. Kits typically include a meter to help keep an eye on levels. Ideally, the pH of your solution should be between 5.5 and 6.5. If the pH is off, you can use the kit to correct it.
Common containers for the Kratky Method
The Kratky Method is flexible in many ways. While herbs and leafy greens work best in a Kratky Method system, you can grow other vegetables. The plants you decide to grow will impact the type of container you will need. A few of the most popular containers used in Kratky Method gardening include:
Mason Jars– Many people begin their hydroponic gardening journey with mason jars, because they are versatile and inexpensive. Larger jars are typically recommended, but some vegetables, like lettuce, do not require a lot of room for the roots. For the best environment for your plants, your container needs to block out light to prevent algae growth. This may require you to paint your jars or create covers.
5-Gallon Buckets– If you are looking to expand your garden beyond just leafy greens and herbs, the Kratky Method can also be used to grow larger plants, such as tomatoes or peppers. In this case, you will need a much larger container than a mason jar. Many people use a 5-gallon bucket, which is inexpensive and study.
Storage Totes– Also for larger plants, or if you want to grow multiple plants in one container, you can opt for a plastic storage tote. If you decide to use a larger container, such as a storage tote, you will want to make sure you fill it up in the place it will grow. Once it is full with water and nutrient solution it will be difficult to move. As you look for totes, make sure you find ones that are deeper, as they can help stabilize temperatures in your hydroponic system throughout the day.
Whichever container you decide to grow in, always ensure it is placed on a level surface. If you do not, you could end up with an uneven harvest. Some of your plant’s seeds could drown if the solution is too high, while at the other end your plants may wilt due to the lack of nutrient solution.
If you are new to hydroponic gardening, and feel like you need more help, the experts at Kratky Method of Hydroponics are ready to guide you through the process. You can contact them at (888) 784-9376.