Kratky Method: Easy Low-Maintenance Hydroponics
The Kratky Method was invented by a horticulturist from Boston University. It is part of passive hydroponics, which means that the system does not need a pump or electricity to operate. All you need is a hydroponic growing solution and a container.
What is the Kratky Method?
It is described by many as the perfect way to start indoor gardening. In passive hydroponics you only need to fill the tank once with water and a nutrient solution for the entire growth of your plant: it is a ready for harvest method.
There are still a few rules to follow if you want to maximize your returns :
- The upper part of the root system must be exposed to moist air
- The roots must not dry out
- The lower part of the root system should be immersed in the nutrient fertilizer
- The level of the hydroponic nutrient must remain the same or decrease over time, but it cannot be high enough to "drown" the roots
How does Kratky Hydroponics work?
Below are the different steps to set up your first Kratky hydroponic system :
- For Kratky Hydroponics, you will first need to get a container (ex: Mason Jars for Plants or Hydroponic Pots). Depending on the type of pot, you may also need hydroponic baskets or net cups, which are necessary to insert and maintain your plant.
- Fill the baskets or netted pots with a growing medium. We recommend natural substrates to optimize the growth quality of your plant: Coconut Coir for Plants, Rockwool Grow Cubes or Sphagnum Moss for Plants.
- Then, you have to fill the jar with water in which you will have diluted the hydroponic growing solution.
- Cover your container with a material (e.g. aluminum) to prevent light from entering it. Since the roots are not underground, light could cause their premature aging.
- That's it!
The principle is as follows: as the plants grow, the water and the nutrient level decrease, leaving an air gap between the growing solution and the plant.
This space is essential because it allows the plants to receive the oxygen necessary for their growth.
Indeed, when the nutrient solution is lowered, the roots left in the air thicken and branch out to capture more oxygen. This is why it is necessary not to raise the level of the nutrient solution again to avoid damaging these roots.
What type of Plants for Kratky Hydroponics?
Growing plants with a Kratky System is easy, however you should know that not all plants are compatible with this method.
Indeed, the most adapted plants will be those that grow quickly without needing much nutrients. The most suitable plants will be the leafy greens and herbs, but also cucumbers, tomatoes...
What are the disadvantages of hydroponic gardening?
You can of course grow other plants that have higher mineral requirements. However, if you want a large-scale production, you will need a significant number of containers.
Knowing that you need one container for one plant, this means that you can very quickly find yourself with dozens of pots piled up at home.
As you will have to provide a larger container and therefore adjust the amount of water and nutrients, we can recommend alternatives :
- Hydroponics with a Growing System. This is the best way to take your hydroponic adventure to the next level. With high performance systems that require little electricity, you can increase the number of plants you want to grow tenfold.
- Deep Water Culture (DWC). This method can be considered as the natural evolution of the Kratky Method. It will allow you to grow more hydroponic vegetables.
- Aquaponics or Aeroponics. If you are willing to invest time and money, these two methods will be very effective for large-scale production. However, they are more complex than the previous methods, which is why we recommend that you acclimate yourself to hydroponics with the Kratky Method or with a Hydroponic Growing System.
To conclude, the Kratky method is a method that has been appealing to individuals for over a decade now. First explored by the University of Boston, this method was the subject of research at the University of Hawaii which confirmed its interest, in particular in the growth of lettuces. Not very complex to set up, it will seduce you by its simplicity and its effectiveness.
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