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farm tech, farm food, farm style

Easy Low-Maintenance Hydroponics - The Kratky Method

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farm tech, farm food, farm style

Easy Low-Maintenance Hydroponics - The Kratky Method

Tyler Baras

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE ‘EASY LOW-MAINTENANCE HYDROPONICS - THE KRATKY METHOD!' VIDEO ABOVE, GIVE IT A LOOK-SEE THEN CHECK OUT THE BLOG POST BELOW TO LEARN MORE!


EASY LOW-MAINTENANCE HYDROPONICS - THE KRATKY METHOD

Got a black thumb? Are you a serial plant killer? Don't give up, all hope is not lost! There is an easy way to grow... it's the Kratky Method!

Quick Definition

The easiest hydroponic growing technique. No pumps, no complex irrigation systems... it's pretty much just plants sitting in water. And it works!

History

Most of the early hydroponic research focused on static water systems. These systems worked, BUT, as scientists tend to do, they kept experimenting and eventually found there was an increase in plant growth when the nutrient solution was aerated. This discovery spurred the development of many circulating hydroponic systems like nutrient film technique (NFT) and top drip irrigation. Now most of the hydroponic research is focused on these circulating systems, BUT, there are still horticulturists experimenting with non-circulating hydroponics. One of the most vocal proponents of non-circulating hydroponics is Dr. Bernard Kratky of the University of Hawaii. He has done so much to continue the development of non-circulating hydroponics that his name has almost become synonymous with the technique... thus it is commonly referred to as the Kratky Method! Learn more about non-circulating hydroponics from the man himself in this paper or this video!

DIY Kratky Systems

Here is a simple system I built in 10 ish minutes. I made a video with my buddy Gary Pilarchik (The Rusted Garden) which explains the system shown below in further detail. Gary is an avid gardener but new to hydroponics. He is going to be releasing videos of his experience with hydroponics and I'm super excited to follow his progress. You can do it Gary! 

This basil is less than 3 weeks old!

This basil is less than 3 weeks old!

STEP 1

Cut foam board to fit inside a 5 gallon bucket.

Cut foam board to fit inside a 5 gallon bucket.

STEP 2

Get seedlings. Leafy greens (lettuce, kale, herbs..) are the ideal crop for Kratky style systems. Seedlings can be started in a hydroponic substrate like the stonewool above or in soil. When using seedlings started in soil, try to use as little soil as possible and wait until seedling has developed enough roots to prevent soil from quickly washing away into the nutrient solution (see image below).

Get seedlings. Leafy greens (lettuce, kale, herbs..) are the ideal crop for Kratky style systems. Seedlings can be started in a hydroponic substrate like the stonewool above or in soil. When using seedlings started in soil, try to use as little soil as possible and wait until seedling has developed enough roots to prevent soil from quickly washing away into the nutrient solution (see image below).

This is a well developed seedling started in soil that I transplanted into a hydroponic system.

This is a well developed seedling started in soil that I transplanted into a hydroponic system.

Step 3

Cut holes in the foam board to fit seedling plugs. Most leafy greens should be spaced 6" apart. Fill bucket with water and mix in hydroponic fertilizer using recommended rates on fertilizer bag. For this system I used MaxiGro by General Hydroponics.

Cut holes in the foam board to fit seedling plugs. Most leafy greens should be spaced 6" apart. Fill bucket with water and mix in hydroponic fertilizer using recommended rates on fertilizer bag. For this system I used MaxiGro by General Hydroponics.

Step 4

Let it grow! No need to do anything. I didn't touch this system for nearly 2 months!!

Let it grow! No need to do anything. I didn't touch this system for nearly 2 months!!

2 Months Later...

I severely neglected these basil plants. I didn't give any attention to this system and should have harvested the crop much earlier (probably after 1 month) but I just let the system keep doing its thing and after 2 months I had these monster basil plants. Hooray for the Kratky method!!

I severely neglected these basil plants. I didn't give any attention to this system and should have harvested the crop much earlier (probably after 1 month) but I just let the system keep doing its thing and after 2 months I had these monster basil plants. Hooray for the Kratky method!!

The Salad Box System used in the "Easy Low-Maintenance Hydroponics - The Kratky Method!" video was provided by Hydrofarm. I only promote products that I believe in, and the salad box is pretty rad. Thank you Hydrofarm for helping me create educational content!