The Kratky Method: What it is and Why People Are Using it?

Author: Robert Reeve  Date Posted:15 July 2020 

If you’re an avid container gardener, but find the benefits of hydroponic gardening appealing, perhaps you’re looking for a way to make use of both these techniques and see your plants thrive. Well, there is one way to grow your plants in a container hydroponically and it doesn’t require pumps or electricity to work – the Kratky Method. The horticulturalist Bernard Kratky from the University of Hawaii developed the method, finding that it is a great solution for those who want to grow their plants using hydroponic principles in a passive way to grow plants indoors. Sounds good, right? Find out just why the Kratky Method is so popular and how to do it in this post.

How to Use the Kratky Method

You’ll know that plants require plenty of micro and macro nutrients to thrive, as well as oxygen, light and water. In a simple way, your plants will receive all of these via the Kratky method, making it the perfect technique to give your plants what they need. The method consists of growing a young seedling that has been put in a net pot and absorbs the nutrient-filled water that lies below it. The water level will drop while the roots grow, enabling them to absorb the moist air for oxygen and once you harvest the plant, you can then replace the water and nutrients. First you will require a large enough container, that has a lid and fits your plant. If you’re growing a small plant, a small container such as a coffee can may suffice, while a larger plant will need a larger container. You’ll then need to fill the container with your chosen nutrient solution and then test the pH of the water before adding it to the container as well. Once you have added the water, you should then set up the container and make a hole in the lid large enough to fit your net pot. Then plant the seed within your growing medium and wait for the plant to grow.

Plants That Can Be Grown

Some plants are more popularly grown than others using the Kratky method, but there is a huge range of options open to you – particularly plants that grow above ground and at a fast rate. From tomatoes to spinach, lettuce, herbs and peppers... the choice is yours. Keep in mind that some of the bigger plants will require a larger container and you will have to ensure that the water level to remains approximately two inches in depth. This way the plant’s roots will be able to access the water and receive sufficient oxygen.

The Purpose of the Lid

When using the Kratky Method, the lid is essential. It serves to protect your plant and the system from exterior factors including variation in temperatures or pests, particularly if you are growing the plant outside. You might not think that rainwater poses a threat to your system, but too much water can cause your plant to drown and alter the pH of the water inside the container. The lid is also vital because it enables the circulation of damp air to occur and reduces the chance of diseases infecting the plant between the root and leaf level.

Factors That Need Maintaining

Staying in control of essential factors can mean that your plant system is maintained and that your plant can benefit from the optimal conditions. Things such as using water that has high quality and occasionally monitoring the pH of the nutrient water are important, as is keeping an eye on the temperature, which can sometimes be unstable and have an effect on the oxygen retention levels by the water molecules. To deal with temperature fluctuations in the summer heat, make sure you use ventilation strategies or keep the system in a well-ventilated room.

Advantages of the Kratky Method

As the plants or vegetables you’re growing don’t require the water to continually be replenished, you can see why the Kratky Method has grown in popularity. Saving on water is just one perk, but you’ll even be able grow and cultivate your plants without the costs of electricity, which is an added bonus. This method also means that less maintenance is required – it’s a hands-off system that only needs you to replace the level of nutrients when the levels get low. And you’ll even realise that what you harvest is just as good as the range of hydroponic systems, meaning that you won’t compromise on the quality of your vegetables.

If you have been looking for a growing method that is simple to set up, cheap and effective, you should try the Kratky Method. Look out for the few factors that need maintaining and watch your plants thrive.

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