Can’t trust the adulterated market vegetables? Don’t have soil good enough for personal farming? Say hello to hydroponics. You can set up your own hydroponic system and grow varieties of vegetables and fruits at home. There are several types of hydroponic systems but out of all Kratky Method is the simplest and easiest.
A typical hydroponic system requires tubes, air and water pumps , airstones and a constant supply of electricity. Yes, a constant supply of electricity, because one failure in electricity can lead to the loss of total crop. Here Kratky Method- Hassle free Hydroponics comes to the rescue. This hydroponic system does not require any of the aforementioned supplies. Thus, we can call it hassle free system of hydroponics.
Here we have brought forth a full fledged article on the Kratky Method of hydroponics. This article gives you the complete detail of the Kratky Method, from its origin to its construction and its pros and cons.
What is the Kratky Method?
The Kratky Method has been developed by the horticulturist Bernard A. Kratky of the University of Hawaii. As mentioned earlier, this is the simplest hydroponic method at require easily available cheap priced materials and it can be carried out without a very strict supervision. In this method, you just need to place the net pot with desired young plant or desired seeds in a well covered reservoir or container containing the proper pH balanced nutrient solution.
How does the Kratky Method works?
We know a plant basically require air, water, light and soil for their growth. The system provides the plant all the above mentioned factors except soil. Plant requires various micronutrients and macronutrients for growth which it obtains from the soil. In the absence of soil, such nutrients are provided to the plant by the nutrient solution.
The medium provides the plant with water as well, for the nutrient solution is mixed with water and poured into a reservoir or container. The roots of the plant is planted in a way so that the roots partly remain in air and partly in water. Thus, the plant is also given air. As the plant grows, the amount of the solution decreases and when all of solution is utilised, the plant is ready for harvest. If you want to let it grow further in the same medium, add more nutrient solution and water to it (with correct pH). Finally, light can be provided to the plant by placing the system in a shaded area where sunlight can also reach the plant.
The best part of the whole thing is that you can follow some easy steps and make your own Kratky Method hydroponic system. Confused how it can be constructed? Do not stress, we have answer to all your questions. Below are the required items for the system and also their step by step execution to build your own system.
- A young plant or seeds of your choice
- A container or reservoir with lid that can be easily cut/ drilled
- Nutrient solution
- pH kit
- Net pot
- Growing medium, like rockwool or hydroton
You can check the following video and see How to set up the Kratky Hydroponics Method (Tutorial)
Now let us come to the steps that must be followed to create and setting up a kratky Hydroponics system.
make the choice of the young plant or seeds because the size of the container or reservoir depends on it. Small plants like spinach and lettuce require a smaller container or reservoir as small as of two litres. But for plants like tomato and pepper, you will require a large container, maybe a 5-8 gallon bucket.
Drill the lid of the container or reservoir cutting a whole big enough to fix the net pot in it. The lid serves dual purpose in the setup. Firstly, it creates a room for the circulation of moist air among the plant roots underneath. Secondly, it aids to support the plant above the water level. The lack of direct contact between the plant and water helps to avoid the risk of plant diseases that may occur at collar zone. While the aeration in the container or reservoir allows the heat dissipate from the water.
Fill the container or reservoir with water. Distilled water best serves the purpose but you may also use tap water as long as it is not contaminated.
Add the nutrient solution to the container or reservoir. Follow the instructions on the kit to make the perfect solution for any plant you desire to grow.
Measure the pH level of the solution. The correct solution is the one which has pH between 5.5-6.5. If the pH drifts from the suggested figure, adjust the level using the pH kit.
Place the net pot with your desired young plant or seeds and growing media onto the drilled lid. If you take a young plant, make sure that the roots partly sink into the nutrient solution and partly hang freely in the air. If you choose to grow the plant from seeds, soak the growing medium (such as the rockwool cube) and place net pot in the drilled lid. The seeds will germinate in it and grow roots down into the container or reservoir.
Follow the above given six simple steps to build your own hydroponic system of Kratky Method and easily grow whatever you desire.
But all plants grown through the Kratky Method. Small plants are mostly suitable for this system. The kind of plants suitable for this are:
The Kratky Method works more suitably with leafy green plants that have a faster rate of growth. This includes, herbs, lettuces and spinaches. Larger plants like tomatoes and peppers can also be grown through this method but as said earlier, they require a bigger container or reservoir. Moreover, larger plants require greater supervision. With larger plants you must regularly check the system to ensure that the water and nutrient level remains at 2-3 inches in order to provide roots access to water as well as oxygen.
The steps to the Kratky Method are very simple yet there are several tips that you must keep in mind to prevent the failure of your system.
Things to Keep in Mind when Using the Kratky Method:
- If you are planning on choosing seeds for rather than a young plant than make sure that you are keeping the growth medium slightly wet at all times. If the growth medium gets dried out it can affect the health of your seedling significantly.
- If you are planning on getting a new plant make sure that you remove the dirt near the roots before using it for the kratky system.
- As Kratky is a passive system and runs quietly, it may invite pests (like crickets, mosquitoes, grasshoppers or spiders) so be prepared to handle such kind of situation.
- Place the system on a level surface, that is, it should not happen so, that you place the system on a slanting surface because this will uneven the level of the mixture of water and nutrient solution in the container or reservoir.
- Do not let outside water, like rainwater, seep into the container or reservoir. Little bit of it maybe acceptable but always protect your system from heavy rainfall, because this may disturb the pH of the mixture of the water and nutrient solution in the reservoir or container.
- Keep regularly checking the pH and the temperature of the mixture of water and nutrient solution in the reservoir or container.
To help you better, below we have listed all the pros and cons of the Kratky Method.
- This method does not require large investments. In fact the materials required to build one’s own system are not expensive and these can be easily accessed.
- The method does not require electricity for its working so one need not to worry about the consequences of electricity failure, unlike the other hydroponic systems where failure in electricity can lead to severe consequences, that is, total loss of the crops.
- As method does not require a very strict supervision, it can be executed easily even by the inexperienced beginners. This is the best method for the new grower because if its flexible schedule.
- This method is suitable only for small plants, like, spinaches, herbs and lettuces, to the utmost, tomatoes and peppers can be grown through this method. No other plants which are large in size can be grown through this method.
- This method is suitable only if you are looking forward to grow crops from self consumption or for your family. You cannot use this method for commercial farming. As the system grows, it becomes less time efficient, since you got to regularly clean the reservoir or container containing the nutrient solution and also check its pH and temperature, which tends to be hectic.
Like every other thing, this method too has its own cons but the number of pros exceeds the number of cons. Furthermore, the simplicity as well as efficiency of the system make its cons less troublesome for the users.
Owing to the easiness of the system, it can be used by any ordinary man. The practice it, you are not required to be an expert or a well experienced individual. In today’s era, where the price hike is constant, the method can simplify the life of the middle class man. Every other day the price of one or the other vegetable increases, which keeps burning a hole in the pocket of the middle class, thus, disturbing their budget. This method can help prevent such situations. Though all crops cannot be grown through the Kratky Method, yet it can almost suffice the everyday requirements of a middle class family. The steps to set it up are so simple that even school going children can build the system. I believe that the school teachers must give the building of the Kratky Method as a project to their students, so that the idea of it can be propagated more and more, therefore, helping more and more number of people.