The Current State

Things are finally starting to settle down, post holidays and new pets. (How has this new cat got so much energy?!)

It’s finally time to fully reassess my current grow room and how my hydroponic plants are fairing. This means chopping down unwanted plants, pruning the “new” growth back severely, and planting new produce.

The Basil

We still eat a decent amount of basil, and thankfully it’s one of the easiest things to grow hydroponically.

I pruned back all my basil to their lowest junctions. This keeps each bush nice and compact, and encourages more foliage growth and less long branching. The 400g (yes that much!) that I have pruned back is currently being dehydrated and consumed fresh in smoothies.

I’ve decided to expand the types of basil varieties I now grow to include Piccolino, Thai and Purple basil. All very delicious, and all with their own tastes.

The Strawberries

I lost track of exactly which variety germinated and grew; but I believe I they were the Florian F1 and Elan’s.

These plants are a bit of a hit and miss for what’s growing. For a while they were my most prolific growers; the amount of foliage per plant caused me to repot half of the plants as they were just too crowded.

Since we have such limited space in our grow room, we killed all but 6 plants (two plants each bucket). So far they aren’t producing in big batches, but smaller batches on a regular basis. My husband and I regularly pick at them throughout the week.

The Tomatoes

San Marzano

The San Marzano tomatoes are gone. Destroyed.

We were getting rather bland tomatoes. A bit of research has led to some interesting insights; if the parent plant produces bland tomatoes, the seedlings will too. Many people sell seeds for San Marzano, but many on the market are harvested from bland tomato varieties. If you plant to grow this species, I suggest trying a tomato from the parent plant first.

Marmande

Instead we have planted Marinade Tomatoes. I’m glad I did. They are less fussy about water and nutrient levels, they don’t have half the blossomed rot issues, and the tomatoes they produce are some of the best I’ve eaten in Kuwait! They are super fleshy, so perfect for all varieties of meals, and have a sweeter taste to them that’s just yummy.

Tiny Tims

Considered a dwarf variety, this plant variety grows to 12 inches (30cm) tall! He’s so little! He produces miniature fruits in clusters that are only 3/4″ in diameter a piece (that’s 2cm!). He’s a determinate species – so it’ll be one harvest and replant.

Red Centiflor Tomato

Another compact and “miniature” variety of tomatoes, perfect for hydroponics and container gardening. This species is considered “very rare”. But they are so cute!  They will produce up to 40 tomatoes per cluster (compared to 2-3 typical on San Marzano trees). They also have apparently an extremely heavy yield.

The Lemon Cucumber

I destroyed this beast. He produced two or three fruits only. He produced a zillion flowers, almost all male. I mean… flowers everywhere!

On top of that, we discovered that I was pretty allergic to this plant. Touching it in any way gave my skin rather bad rashes; and to fertilise the flowers you had to get elbow deep in vines! It was not an ideal situation.

The Lettuce

We have three lettuce plants growing constantly in a bucket, and they provide ridiculous amounts of lettuce leaves for salads and sandwiches. I don’t think I have ever eaten so much lettuce in my life.

The Rhubarb

My husband had rhubarb pie a while back, and got addicted. Problem is its really hard to source here in Kuwait. So of course I’ve planted him some in our hydroponic garden… four pots worth of it. It’s literally taking over. Good thing its easy to grow and I like the taste of rhubarb. Its a slow grower, so expect it to be around for a while.

The Peppers

Now this is one I am very excited about. I have come across the concept of Bonshi. Not bonsai, but bonshi. It’s the practice of growing pepper plants with the same techniques as bonsai. They can be highly ornamental with their coloured fruit and flowers, whilst also being quite edible. I’ve loved the idea of growing bonsai since I was like 12, so this idea was great!

It’s pretty hard to do bonsai in Kuwait since I haven’t found suitable training pots, display pots, soil mixtures, and even plants (most are mass produced nursery stock that would require many years of growth to become display ready). A normal bonsai tree can easily take up to 30 years to grow from seed!

But pepper plants, and bonshi, can be produced within 1-2 years. They are suitable for indoor climates (unlike many traditional bonsai plants), and their fast growing nature is absolutely perfect for beginners and impatient enthusiasts (ahem, me).

So of course I researched pepper plants, and both 18 total varieties to grow. More on this in another post.

Updates and Upcoming

If you follow my blog then you might have noticed that I have been absent a little bit lately. I tend to schedule posts about a month in advance, and even still I haven’t posted in quite a while…

I’ve been busy. I went on holiday. Busy? Busy living life. It’s amazing how fast time passes.

I also got a second kitten!! The new little girl has certainly kept me busy the last few days. She’s currently has her own room as we are going to be introducing her slowly to our other cat. I’m probably going to write a couple blog posts on how to integrate an introduce two cats together. I did a lot of research.

I’ve also had to reassess the plant grow room; its gotten a bit out of hand. I’ve been regularly watering, but pruning hasn’t been done in a long time. Some plants have grown… excessively. Other plants have now been completely gutted. Expect a few update posts.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 8

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 8 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 8 Growth

When I first planted the Jalapeños they were probably the least exciting plant for me; they were my husband’s request. I’m not a huge fan of spicy-hot, and for me Jalapeños can fall into that category depending upon ripeness.

Having watched the plants grow the last two months has been really rewarding, and to see the fruits getting so large… I am now quite excited to harvest. Jalapeño poppers, anyone?

Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 8 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 8 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

The peppers are still a little bit small to be picked. But its amazing to see how much they have grown in one week! Imagine if humans grew this fast; have a baby and nearly two months later they are nearly adults…

Have you tried growing Jalapeño peppers hydroponically? I’d love to know how your peppers tasted. Let me know in the comments below.

Strawberry Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Week 4

Growing Strawberry Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week4
Growing Strawberry Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week4

This week saw an exciting change in our Strawberry Spinach plants. Firstly, the leaves have gotten quite a lot larger throughout the week. I could probably start harvesting the leaves around this point, but my main focus is on whether this plant will produce berries – harvesting leaves would encourage the plant to focus on vegetative growth rather than fruit growth. Which brings me to the exciting part… I can see berries developing!

The berries are minuscule; about the size of a pin head. But they are there! Along most of the stalks, usually in the crooks between main branch and the off shots, are little tiny berries. They look somewhat like miniature green raspberries.

Since my grow room lacks fresh grown fruit, I am very excited to see that the plants are beginning to produce. We are still in the process of finding that nice equilibrium of vegetables to leafy greens to fruit ratio; currently we have too many leafy greens, whilst our vegetables are very slowly producing and our fruit is rather lacking.

Have you grown a Strawberry Spinach plant before? I’d love to know if you liked how it tastes, and if you got many berries from it? Let me know in the comments below.

Strawberry Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Week 3

I’ve been really excited to see my Strawberry Spinach plant grow to maturity since I first discovered it. I love both strawberry and spinach, and apparently this plant is a perfect blend of both those passions: the leaves taste like spinach whilst the fruit taste like strawberries. Intriguing, right?

If we compare growth between week two and three, its clear that they have grown significantly… Much more than I had expected to be honest. That’s one thing I love about blogging; I get to look back at the growth progress of my plants and just be constantly astounded.

Growing Strawberry Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3
Growing Strawberry Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3

There isn’t any sign of the fruit yet, but the plant is really quite young. It can take anywhere from 45 to 60 days to mature, and its currently only 21 days. I suspect that if we are lucky in about two weeks we may see some fruit development.

Until then, I might try some of the leaves in salads. I want to keep as many leaves as possible on the plant as I suspect the fruit grows directly on the stems rather than creating their own stems.

Do you know if Strawberry Spinach creates stems for the fruit, or if they grow directly on the leaf branches? Let me, and others, know in the comments below.

Growing Strawberry Temptation in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3

So far in my experience plants will germinate in a flourish – a little rush to get one or two leaves out – and then they will stagnate for a week or so. Its during this time of stagnation that they usually focus on root growth. Last week our strawberries had barely broken the rock wool surface, featuring only their dicot leaves.

Growing Strawberry Temptation in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2 Growth
Growing Strawberry Temptation in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 2 Growth

This week is different, in the sense that something only 1.5cm (just over 0.5″) could be different:

It was quite hard to get my camera to focus clearly on such small details, but you can still see that the Tempation Strawberries are now going through a growth spurt. On all of the seedlings they are beginning to grow their second set of leaves.

It’s going to be quite a while before my plants will bare fruit, but I am still very happy with their progress; previously I had several months of attempts to germinating the plant with little success. The only method that worked in the end was stratify the seeds in the fridge for over a month. To get this far is quite an achievement!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 7

It’s an exciting time in our household! We have babies! Jalapeño babies, that is.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growth

Here is our primary Jalapeño plant; we have two plants but this guy here is definitely the largest. He is 15″ (40cm) tall from base to highest leaf. Typically Jalapeño plants will grow to be about twice that height, so my little guy is only a teenager. The plant is often called an annual, however if kept in ideal temperatures (not exposed to frost) they will keep growing and producing.

Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht
Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht

Over the last couple weeks our Jalapeño plants have been flowering. Since we are growing indoors with no bees or insects to pollinate, I have to do it myself. An old toothbrush head on the electric toothbrush really helps save the day; the vibration is just enough to get the pollen shaking loose.

Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht
Jalapeño Pepper Flower, Grown in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 7 Growht

As the flower gets older, it starts to wilt. But its what emerges from beneath the aged flower petals that’s the most exciting part:

Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

I aided this guy by very gently removing the old petals; only a couple petals were left attached, and the fruit was mostly visible. You can see some of the left over pollen on the fruit. Each fruit appears to be about 1.5-2cm in size (0.5″ give or take).

Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics
Baby Jalapeño Pepper Fruit, Week 7 Growth in Kratky Hydroponics

We have multiple fruit starting to appear. I count four peppers so far, with several older flowers that are beginning to bulge. I don’t want to go disturbing the flowers yet in case I break them off, or ruin the chance for them to bear fruit.

Growing San Marzano Tomatoes in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 9

I think my San Marzano tomatoes are one of our most highly anticipated crops, and also probably the most difficult to grow so far. Last time I posted I mentioned how they had just started flowering, and fruit was beginning to develop, as well as how we were fighting an edema issue.

The tomato bushes are now massive – actual bushes. I cant even get a proper photo of the entire plant in my grow room; the camera doesn’t have a wide enough lens.

Can you believe that I cut off a whole armload of branches off this plant every couple days?! Its insane just how fast they grow new leaves.

Fighting Blossom Drop

San Marzano Tomato 9 Weeks Old, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato 9 Weeks Old, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics

The tomato is still flowering, a lot. The biggest issue is I have blossom drop. There are a couple reasons for blossom drop such as incorrect temperature and humidity, or that they are not pollinating correctly.

I have checked my temperature, and the grow room is sitting in the ideal range. So I suspect that perhaps the flowers aren’t pollinating as well. I did get sick and stop using the electric toothbrush method as often, so in the future I am going to be a bit more precise in application – vibrate those leaves until you can see the pollen dust emerging from the flower heads.

Fruiting

San Marzano Tomato 9 Weeks Old, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato 9 Weeks Old, Grown In Kratky Hydroponics

In the last post we had the subtle-hints of fruit emerging. Well it’s safe to say that they have emerged!

We have about 14 tomatoes growing so far. Not as many as I had hoped for, but as mentioned above we had an issue with blossom drop. There are plenty of flowers on the plant with many more emerging regularly, so hopefully we will be getting more fruit over the coming weeks.

Growing Strawberry Temptation in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2

I have a lot of greenery growing, but not enough fruit… yet. Two weeks ago I planted some Strawberry seeds; the Temptation variety. I mean… I’m very tempted to eat strawberries… (bad joke, I know).

They don’t look like much, but these seeds are currently a 7 week effort to get growing!

A while back I learnt that some seeds won’t germinate at warmer temperatures, and in fact need to experience freezing temperatures in order to leave dormancy. You can mimic these temperatures by storing your seeds in the fridge. This process is called stratifying. So for the last month I have had a variety of strawberry seeds just chilling away in the fridge, literally.

To see the seeds actually germinating is really quite rewarding. I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t be able to grow any. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how these grow over the coming weeks.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics – Update Week 6

Opps. The last time I shared an update on the Jalapeños was when they were four weeks old. I didn’t realise time was going by so fast and somehow I didn’t remember to write an update.

Well guess what: it flowered!

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth

The very first flower opened today in fact. It’s so dainty looking; a stark contrast to the hot and spicy fruit that it’s going to produce.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth

There are plenty of other flowers growing on each of the branches, most at that point of about-to-open. Give them a day or two and the whole plant will be flowering, and in need of pollination. Domestic varieties of Jalapeños are self-pollinating, but they benefit from the electric toothbrush method.

Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth
Growing Jalapeño Peppers in Kratky Hydroponics, Week 6 Growth

I’m surprised at how small the plants are to be honest. They can grow to be 30in (or 76cm) tall, yet my plants are both around only half that.

My husband is very excited about the jalapeños growing, and his excitement is catching; I am looking forward to making some yummy meals like Jalapeño poppers!