Growing San Marzano Tomatoes in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 6

I just realised that I forgot to write a post for last week, oops. Sorry about that. Guess the jump of growth between the last post and this one is going to be significant. This post is going to be big (not just plant growth), but because I discuss edema, flowers and fruiting too.

Lets look back at week 4 growth:

San Marzano Tomato 1 Month, In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato 1 Month, In Kratky Hydroponics

I was so proud of how big they were growing… and how fast – each day seemed to produce another branch, another leaf, or another inch or two of height… little did I know that the plants would keep growing at such a speed, even two weeks later. I have created a monster; a gorgeous, hopefully soon to eat yummy, monster:

San Marzano Tomato 6 Weeks Old, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato 6 Weeks Old, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics

Its getting huge! We have two of the trellis supports already installed, and tonight I will be putting in the third. Thats a trellis each week…

The Curious Case of Edema

Would you believe that I have actually been cutting branches off? We’ve actually been having a problem with how fast this plant is growing. So fast that it’s actually becoming a serious problem and risk, for the plant itself.

Edema on San Marzano Tomato Plant Leaves
Edema on San Marzano Tomato Plant Leaves

See those little green spots on the tomato leaves? That’s edema. Its what happens when the plant is absorbing too much liquid… Is that even possible in a hydroponic system? Yeah it is. Edema causes the cellular structure on the leaves to swell up as they absorb moere and more liquid, to the point that they will rupture, often killing that leaf. Often you will also see crusty spots on the leaves from dried sap and water.

In mild cases its not usually an issue, but more and more of our tomato branches were becoming effected. It tends to effect the lower branches or leaves first, slowly effecting more of the plant if the environment remains unchanged.

There are a couple reasons why it can happen:

  • There isn’t enough airflow around the plant and the plant isn’t transpiring enough (sort of like you getting hot and sweaty without a cool wind). This can also happen if the plant leaves is too dense and thick, restricting airflow around inner branches. This is the most common reason.
  • The nutrients are unbalanced; the plant is sucking up too much liquid to try and get enough of one or more nutrients.
  • The water is too warm whilst the leaves are cooler, causing the plant to activate drinking mode. Sort of like when a plant is growing in a hot region – when it rains the upper plant becomes cool and signals to the roots that fresh water is being supplied.

I will write a blog post covering edema bit more and ways to resolve this. It affects all plants, not just tomatoes.

In our situation, the foliage was becoming too dense. The constant but small airflow that we had in the room wasn’t reaching the inner branches and leaves, so the plant wasn’t able to lose the excess liquids through sweating.

Over Dense Foliage on San Marzano Tomato, Week 6 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Over Dense Foliage on San Marzano Tomato, Week 6 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

For now our solution was to maintain a slightly more average temperature in the grow room rather than cooler at night and warmer during the day. We are still researching the ideal fan for our grow room as some people have had issues with the common oscillating fans causing leaf burn due to overexposure of wind.

Fruitful Endeavours

Flowers on San Marzano Tomatoes at 6 Weeks, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics
Flowers on San Marzano Tomatoes at 6 Weeks, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics

It’s not all bad news; our “hard work” is paying off. The tomato plant is only 6 weeks old, and yet we have been getting flowers now for nearly two weeks!

Flowers on San Marzano Tomatoes at 6 Weeks, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics
Flowers on San Marzano Tomatoes at 6 Weeks, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics

San Marzano are an indeterminate tomato plant variety, meaning they will continuous flower, fruit and grow indefinitely as long as the environment is ideal. So it makes sense that not all the flowers are opening at once. I did a count of the flower buds that I could see – both opened and unopened. There was over 35 flower buds!

Flowers on San Marzano Tomatoes at 6 Weeks, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics
Flowers on San Marzano Tomatoes at 6 Weeks, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics

The average San Marzano tomato weighs around 120-140grams (4.2-5oz). Assuming all 35 flowers produce tomatoes, thats a minimum of 4.2kg (9.2lbs) of tomatoes! I’m so glad that I have bought some canning equipment so I can bottle up these delicious tomatoes.

Have you preserved your home-grown or store bought tomatoes? Whats your favourite way to use tomatoes? Mine is definitely pizza sauce. Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 3

Three weeks ago I got some Jalapeño seeds as a present from a friend; thank you friend! My husband is a big fan of Jalapeño poppers recipes; I’ve only tried them once and enjoyed them a fair bit too. Biggest issue was finding jalapeños large enough to easily stuff. So it makes sense that we planted some Jalapeño pepper seeds into some rock wool to grow our own (hopefully large peppers).

It’s now time to do the three week update!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth

The peppers are taking off! I wanted to say that they haven’t grown that much, but looking back at week two they were only little seedlings:

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

The week three jalapeños have clearly grown much larger leaves, and are now growing their third and fourth true leaves.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 3 Growth

I am concerned about the size of the bucket that I am growing it in – ideally I would have only one or two plants in this sized bucket long term, and I am growing five! I think that I will give some seedlings away to family (to plant traditionally in soil) and keep one or two for myself.

Have you grown Jalapeño peppers before? How long did yours take to fruit? How big were the peppers? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 1

The last time I tried to grow Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce , it didn’t go so well. It wasn’t a total disaster; I still got a harvest out of my lettuce, but I transplanted too late in their growth and as a result I stressed the lettuce out way too much. They just never really recovered.

Week 3 Deer Tongue Kratky Lettuce
Last (failed) attempt: Week 3 Deer Tongue Kratky Lettuce

The failure was mine. I was brand new to hydroponics, and growing lettuce in general, so mistakes were made and learnt from…

So I have decided to reattempt my first grow experiment, this time seeing just how big my plants will get. One week ago I planted seeds in some rock wool and my new hydroponic buckets:

Growing Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Week 1
Growing Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Week 1

They don’t look like much at the moment, I know. They have barely broken the surface of the rock wool, and have only just put out their first true leaves (in some cases they haven’t even gotten that old).

Growing Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Week 1
Growing Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Week 1

See? The lettuce seedlings are still very small. Once they start getting a bit bigger, and one sprout becomes dominant, I will thin them out to one plant per net cup.

Have you grown lettuce hydroponically before, or in soil? What’s your favourite lettuce variety? Let me know down in the comments.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 2

I’m not a huge Jalapeño fan, but my husband is. I think I made his day when I told him that I had planted some jalapeño seeds for him.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

I think he’s a bit disheartened, as many new gardeners are, that they aren’t growing faster. He’s been checking them daily and when you see something so often its hard to see the changes. That’s why I love posting my weekly updates – I get to see and compare to photos a week ago. In this case these plants didn’t even exist two weeks ago!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

These seedlings have all put out their first true leaves, and in a couple cases they have started to grow their second sets of true leaves as well.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2

As with all the other plants I have grown hydroponically so far, once the seedlings start producing a couple of their first leaves they go through a very sudden growth spurt. I expect that these jalapeño seedlings won’t look so small and vulnerable within one or two weeks.

Since it’s the first time growing jalapeño’s, I am unsure just how big they will get. I have them distanced only about 2-3″ apart from each other, so they are quite close. I expect that I am probably going to have to transplant some else where – luckily the weather is getting cooler in Kuwait so I can probably place in the soil. It’s currently (at time of writing) 48°C (119°F) outdoors… umm it is getting cooler, right?

Have you grown jalapeño’s or peppers? I’d love to hear about your growing stories in the comments below!

Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3

It’s been three weeks since I planted my Amaranth seeds. I’ve watched them germinate and grow. And I have loved every minute of it.

Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3
Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3

The amaranth is getting quite big. This week saw the leaves doubling in size. Compare this to week 2 (they were under a different grow light in the following photo).

Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 2
Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 2

The largest leaves are now about the size of my palm. A bit too small to start harvesting if you want to do a continual harvesting method. Maybe next week.

Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3
Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3

I love the colors that are developing on the leaves. The red is a lot less red than I expected; from the top the leaves look like a dark purple or burgundy hue. When you view them from underneath however, they are a very vivid blood red.

Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3
Edible Red Leaf Amaranth Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3

Have you grown amaranth before? Did you eat it in salads, or prefer to use it medicinally? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Month 1

Yep, lemon cucumbers. You did read that right. They look like lemons, but they taste like cucumbers. Why? Because I can. Why not?

Lemon Cucumbers, Photo Courtesy of Burpee
Lemon Cucumbers, Photo Courtesy of Burpee

Strangely enough this is one of the plants I am most excited about. I mention it to everyone – its definitely a talking point. Yet for some reason I haven’t really been tracking the growth progress. So now that the plant has reached one month old, it’s time to make a blog post about it.

Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth
Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth

I started these lemon cucumbers in my Aerogarden Bounty, and transplanted them to their Kratky buckets somewhere 2 weeks old. In reflection, I think this was a mistake. I waited too long and they had developed too many roots that I lost in the transplant process. The plant went into shock, and it took a long time for roots to re-grow and then for any more visible growth (leaves) to start showing. For two weeks they seemed to be dormant – only I could see root development and knew something was happening.

Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth
Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth

In the last week that the cucumber plant has started to visibly grow, and in that time it has really taken off! In that time its gone from a seedling with two leaves to… well this baby monster.

Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth
Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth

Between his upper two branches a small tendril, or maybe a new branch, is starting to grow.

Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth
Growing Lemon Cucumbers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 4 Growth

If you look closely under the top leaf you might see a circular spiral. That’s a tendril, getting ready to grab onto a support for the plant to grow! After all, cucumbers tend to be rather like a vine. I’m going to have to add their trellis in, probably tonight. I don’t want them to grow outwards and flop over my floor, but rather train it to grow upwards onto the trellis.

Have you grown cucumbers before? Have you any tips to share with me? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Swiss Chard in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3

My Bright Lights Swiss Chard is three weeks old already! Time is flying by, and watching plants grow is actually pretty fun. I wonder if watching paint dry is just as fun?

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3

The Swiss Chard really focused on leaf growth this week; the leaves are getting huge! They are the size of my entire hand!

Compare that growth to how it looked in week 2:

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 2
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 2

A particularly attractive feature of the Bright Lights variety is the multicoloured stems; ranging from greenish-yellows to dark reddish-purples. We were able to tell the colors of the stems in week 2, but the colors have really begun to establish themselves this week against the gorgeous green leaves. I love the orange and red contrast; it makes the leaves look almost artistic.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3

One week ago the stems were still quite weak, looking more likely seedlings. This week they are much thicker; they need to be in order to hold up their ever growing leaves.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Hydroponics Container, Week 3

What’s your favourite Bright Lights Swiss Chard color? Let me know in the comments below. I think my personal favourite is orange.

Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4

Amaranth is another plant that I have been very excited to try; I don’t think I have eaten it before. (Hang on, aren’t I excited about all my plants? Yes, yes I am.)…

Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4
Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4

My Amaranth is now at the stage where I really need to start harvesting it. Since it was my first time growing it I wanted to see just how large Amaranth would grow, and the problem is that it’s now growing too big for my buckets. The leaves are now starting to fight each other for space and crowd out the younger emerging leaves.

Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4
Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4

The leaves are no laughing matter – they are absolutely massive! I didn’t expect them to get this large, honestly. In the above picture I was stretching my fingers out as wide as possible, and you could just see my fingertips. No wonder they are starting to get crowded.

Have you grown Amaranth before? Whats your favourite way to eat it? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Nero Toscana Kale in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3

This week we saw the kale’s leaves turning a beautiful silvery shade. The picture below hasn’t been photo-edited. They color is fairly accurate to what I see myself.

The largest leaves are about the size of my palm, and I expect that they will probably get much larger.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 3
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 3

Lets compare that color to the previous week leaves, which had the bright green of most seedlings:

The kale still looks quite small, especially compared to some of my other hydroponic plants such as the Swiss Chard. That’s okay; kale is slow growing; it takes 70-80 days for it to reach full maturity. It’s only 25% through its life cycle, so its barely even a teenager.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 3
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 3

If you look closely at the base of each branch you can see a number of new leaves and branches beginning to emerge. The Cotyledons, or first leaves, are just beginning to droop, so they will probably die and fall off in the coming week.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 3
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 3

What’s your favourite leafy green? Have you tried growing it hydroponically?