Kratky Method: Principles, Application & Other Useful Tips

Kratky method of hydroponics is a simple passive growing way with no additional steps while thriving and no electricity involved. Go with us to discover the answer.

How Does Kratky Method Work?

As a passive growing method, the is no pumps or air stone added to the Kratky system. Instead, a reservoir loaded with a nutrient mixture will feed the plants hanging above it entirely.

In detail, you would plant your seeds in the growing medium in cups with holes. Then, attach your cups to a lid placed on top of the container that contains water and nutrient sources.

When plants grow and consume the nutrient mixture, water decreases and creates an air space. Therefore, the more thriving, the more extensive the gap is and oxygen generated to feed the plants.

Since we won’t refill the container, the roots will make an effort to grow as fast as possible to keep up with the water falling speed.

By the time your vegetables are ready to harvest, the water is almost depleted. So, to start a new growth cycle, you just need to refill the reservoir and plant the seeds again.

Kratky Hydroponics: How to set it up?

Kratky Method: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Super cheap
  • Easy to set up and maintain
  • Require less labor
  • Possible to anyone, including beginners

Cons

  • Not perfect for bigger plants
  • Not ideal for large-scale farming
  • Need to be well-done from the beginning

Benefits of Kratky method

Cost-saving

A Kratky system requires few numbers and simple equipment. All the expensive pieces of hydroponics gardening, such as the pumps and air stone, are unneeded.

All you need are a type of reservoir, nutrient sources, a lid, and some cups to hold the plants. They can be easily found around your home.

Simple establish and maintenance

All the steps could be done by hand, and the system’s texture is super basic. So we don’t have to worry about some broken structure that’s hard to fix.

Also, that there is no electricity makes your gardening safer, especially for your children.

Less labor requirement

Unlike other planting methods, you don’t need to check or take care of your plants after seeding in Kratky farming. Typically, you prepare the system, plant the seeds, and do nothing until harvest.

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You can go away for several days without concern if there will be some technology failing or if your veggies get enough nutrition or not.

Everyone can do it

The Kratky is super easy to learn and apply. In addition, it will give you a firm foundation to learn about other hydroponic methods later.

In conclusion, Kratky is perfect for those who desire to garden without spending too much on the setup costs. It’s also suitable for us to check if we are interested in gardening or not before growing on a big scale.

Disadvantages of the Kratky method

Not works for bigger plants

Due to its rudimentary system, Kratky won’t grow big plants or require a complex fertilizing process. Those veggies need more space, nutrition, and oxygen to thrive, which this method can’t afford or is not the best to go.

This way is recommended only for small objects, such as spinach, lettuce, or tomato and pepper, to the utmost.

The bigger you go, the less efficient it is

When it comes to commercial farming, this convenient Kratky system may become bulky and counterproductive. Just imagine how time-consuming it is to deal with 100 single containers.

So, Kratky is ideal for homegrown food for individual or family consumption; otherwise, it won’t be the best.

We need to make it perfect from the beginning

Apart from the physical setup, you must carefully check the water pH and calculate the proper amount of water required. Plus, make sure that you add enough essential nutrition to feed the plants for the whole growth cycle.

In other cases, when you make some mistakes, you still can adjust later, but doing that too often may affect plants’ roots. So again, keeping the containers close during the process is the best way to go.

In short, Kratky hydroponics is excellent for growing small to medium plants on a small scale. However, when it comes to more significant aspects, it won’t help.

How To Set Up Kratky Hydroponics System

Things to prepare

  • A reservoir or a container.
  • A lid may be plastic, a styrofoam one, or any type as long as it fits the reservoir and is strong enough to hold the plants.
  • Net pots to accommodate growing medium and plants.
  • Growing medium: for example, coco coir, pertile, clay pebbles, or rock wool.
  • Kratky hydroponic nutrients: you should research what nutrient your plants need and get the one that fits.
  • A pH measurement tool
  • Water

Steps to establishing a Kratky hydroponics system

Set up the nutrient sources

Let’s assume that you get a container. First, fill the container with clean water and Kratky method fertilizer, such as the 3-Part Hydroponic Nutrients Solutions, with a proper amount.

Adjust the water’s PH level

Use the tool to check if your nutrient mixture’s pH is appropriate for the plants you’re growing. Typically, it’s within 5.5 – 6.5, depending on the specific variant; otherwise, adjust it by a pH up or pH down solution.

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Prepare plants’ platform

Drill holes in the lid big enough to accommodate the pots you choose, then place them tightly on the container.

Put an empty pot into the lid to check and ensure that the water covers about ⅓ of the cups from the bottom or is at least enough to wet the medium.

Seeding

Add growing medium into the pots and place them into the lid. Apply several seeds to each cup to maximize the chance of successful germination. Since then, the growth cycle begins!

Notes:

What Grows Best With Kratky Method?

Kratky method hydroponics works best with green leafy and fast-growing plants like herbs. As for the fruit or the roots , but you would need a large container and regular checking.

Vegetables

Leafy greens are especially suited to thrive in this system. For instance, Kratky lettuce is popular across many countries.

Here is a list of the best vegetables to grow with the Kratky method (1)

  • Spinach
  • Spring onions
  • Chard
  • Peas
  • Kale
  • Bok Choi
  • Escarole
  • Radicchio
  • Mesclun
  • Mustard greens
  • Arugula
  • Rapini
  • Collard greens
  • Tatsoi
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Watercress

Herbs

Herbs that are quick-growing and don’t require much water are perfectly matched. Here is a list of the best herbs to grow with the Kratky way.

  • Basil (Italian; Thai; Lemon variant)
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Endive
  • Dill
  • Sage

Fruits and roots

Can I grow fruits with the Kratky method? Some say yes. Others say no! Same with Kratky tomatoes and other root veggies like sweet tomato or carrot.

The efficiency is the matter here. Growing those plants requires a lot of space, nutrition, and temperature conditions alongside regular checking. This seems opposite to the convenient and passive nature of the Kratky.

Sofar strawberry is considered the most successful fruit that is grown Kratky hydroponically.

What Doesn’t Grow Well With Kratky Method?

As a rule of thumb, the larger the plant, the more water and space needed. To grow carrots, for example, you’ll need a big cup to the depth. In cases of tomatoes, it requires a large cup to the width.

Hence, it’s still possible for large plants and slow-growing crops to thrive in the Kratky system. But they will take you more time, cost, and effort. The decline of efficiency will make it no longer worth that much.

Below are some fruits and root veggies that are not Kratky-friendly.

Fruit-producing plants

Slow-growing plants

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Pepper
  • Aloe vera
  • Brussels sprouts

Roots crop

  • Tomato
  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Turnip
  • Sweet potato
  • Parsnip
  • Beet

Again, the Kratky can still deliver those crops, but you should consider the cost and labor before deciding.

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Bonus Tips: How To Grow Strawberries With The Kratky Method?

Planting Kratky strawberries takes about 8 – 10 weeks to be ready for harvest. You can grow them from seeds or young plants existing in your garden or other hydroponic systems.

Things to prepare

  • Strawberry growing medium: hydrotons ball, coco coir, or rock wool.
  • Seeds or young plants – Strawberries seeds may take from 3 – 4 weeks to germinate. So, we suggest you choose the young plants way if possible.
  • Equipment for strawberry Kratky system, including net cups that are about 70 x 80 mm per one in width and depth.
  • Strawberry hydroponics nutrient – Here, we need a primary nutrient source: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; Micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur; Trace elements such as chlorine, copper, and zinc.

Instructions

Prepare the platform

The preparation here is similar to the guide we gave you in the system setup session. Fill your container with water and nutrient elements reasonably and place the lid with the pots inserted.

Planting

  • Once you choose the young plants, you will either get them from your soil garden or hydroponic garden. So, first, make sure you rinse off the roots collected from the soil.
  • Next, slide your plants into the pots and gently pull some roots so that they come out of the holes and access the nutrient mixture.
  • Finally, add the growing medium to hold the plants.

Note: Don’t let any stem part submerged in the water, the roots only.

pH condition

The ideal pH of water for Kratky strawberries is around 5.5 – 6.0.

Light requirement

Strawberries love to consume light energy, so you’d better expose them to the light at least 12 – 14 hours per day.

The sun is the first choice; Then, a grow light will give your plants additional care at night.

Temperature recommended

The appropriate temperature for strawberries to thrive is about 60°F – 70°F.

The temperature is crucial for growing any plants, so be careful of it, especially within a glasshouse when the gap between day and night is high.

Without a proper temperature, strawberries won’t be able to deliver a good fruit yield.

Growing cycle and harvesting

  • After a couple of days, your young strawberry plants may deliver new roots and a leaf.
  • You can notice some flowers and broad leaves in a month, which is a sign of good growth.
  • After 8 – 10 weeks of planting, your strawberries are ready for picking with their bright red berries.

Note: Don’t forget to check the nutrient mixture after half of the process if you’re unsure of your setup.

Conclusion

Is the Kratky method right for you? I think now you can answer the question yourself with all the information we have discussed.

In short, it is inexpensive and easy to handle from the beginning to harvesting. Will you try it? Happy gardening, and don’t forget to share your result with us!

Kratky Method: Principles, Application & Other Useful Tips
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Jill Sandy

I am a sustainable focus gardener. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself.