When you think of hydroponics, you may think of more technical systems involving a lot of moving pieces. But getting started does not have to be complicated. With the Kratky Method of hydroponic growing, starting your garden can be easier than it seems. And, you do not even need big or expensive equipment to do so.
WHAT IS THE KRATKY METHOD?
As you may know, hydroponic gardening does not require the use of soil to grow plants. However, they still need air, water, light, and nutrients to survive. That is why many hydroponic systems utilize air pumps, airstones, valves and several other key pieces of equipment for growing. The Kratky Method is attractive to many new growers because of its simplicity.
Bernard A Kratky, a horticulturist at the University of Hawaii, introduced his method for growing plants in 2009. The article was released in the scientific journal Acta Horticulturae., and includes Kratky’s description of using floating pallets to grow food commercially. His example explains that the plants would be placed in net pots on boards that float in a reservoir. As the water levels declined, it would create an air gap to allow the plants to take in oxygen. By the time the nutrient solution runs out, the plants should be ready to harvest.
The simplicity of this system made it popular among home gardeners, who discovered Kratky’s theory could easily be set up on a much smaller scale using containers such as 5-gallon buckets, and even glass jars typically used for canning.
WHAT TYPES OF PLANTS CAN YOU GROW WITH THE KRATKY METHOD?
While the Kratky Method can be used to grow just about any plant that grows above ground, it does work best with smaller plants. A few of the most popular plants grown with the Kratky Method include a variety of leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, herbs and, sometimes, even tomatoes. Should you choose to grow plants, such as tomatoes or peppers, you will need a larger container in which to place the plants. Larger plants also require more regular checking to make sure they have enough essentials to survive.
GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR OWN KRATKY METHOD HYDROPONIC SYSTEM
Along with being one of the simplest hydroponic systems, it is also easy to get set up. With just a few materials, you will be growing your plants in no time.
Here is what you 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.
BENEFITS & CHALLENGES OF THE KRATKY METHOD
While the Kratky Method is simple, and does not require much attention, you will still likely face some challenges. Being prepared is the key to ensuring your success. The Kratky Method has been popular among professional and amateur gardeners because of its simplicity and low cost. It is also very adaptable and can be set up in almost in location.
Plant Size – The Kratky Method is best for smaller plants, especially leafy greens like lettuce or spinach. Growing larger plants requires larger containers, and more of your time to ensure the environment in which you are growing plants can sustain them.
Small Scale Gardening – If you are planning to grow plants for commercial purposes, the Kratky Method may not be the best fit for you. This simple method is best on a small scale. For example, maybe you just want fresh produce for your family, or your friends and neighbors.
Pest Problems – Because the Kratky Method is a passive system and runs quietly, it is known to attract pests like mosquitoes or spiders. While they might not cause major problems for plants, you need to be prepared for the possibility of seeing them.
Keep it Covered – The container you choose to set up your Kratky Method system in will protect it from outside elements. So, be sure the lid seals properly to keep out pests. If your garden is outdoors, ensure that no rainwater can enter the reservoir to prevent drowning your plants.
MASTERING THE KRATKY METHOD
Though not all plants can be grown using this method, the Kratky Method is a great way to get started in hydroponics. Once you have mastered it and are seeing the results you want, you can advance to more technical hydroponic system.
If you are ready to get started with hydroponics, visit the experts at Kratky Method of Hydroponics or call (888) 784 – 9376.