Growing San Marzano Tomatoes in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Month 1

Its been a month now since I planted my San Marzano Tomato seeds, and I am still in awe! I honestly can’t wrap my head around how fast these tomatoes are growing. I expected like one or two leaves a week, not one or two leaves growing every single day! Maybe all tomatoes grow this fast… I’m a first time grower and I am honestly hooked.

First, lets see how they have grown over the last few weeks:

And now, be amazed:

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

They have doubled their size in one week! I said they were growing fast, right? One of the seedlings (one on the left in photo above) was a little slow in recovery after transplanting, so his growth is a little slower than his brother. Perhaps he experienced a bit more shock when transplanting.

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

I’m not going to even bother counting how many leaves the bigger of the two has now. Last week he had nine branches, and I as already impressed. He grows new branches so fast that I wouldn’t be surprised that by the time I finish counting there would be another emerging.

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

Once a brach seems to get old enough, new smaller leaves and branches start to emerge from those.

Here is a close up of some of the newer growth. I think this growth has emerged since last night.

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

The growth is just impressive. We’d be in trouble if tomatoes became sentient and tried to take over the world.

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

I can safely say that he has doubled his size in just one week! He is now 12 inches, or 30cm, tall. Last week he was only 5 inches, or 12cm, high! It seems that the more leaves he grows, the faster he grows. With 6 inches of growth in one week, I am super excited to see how much he grows in the coming week.

Have you grown tomatoes before? Do they honestly grow this fast, or is he growing faster in the hydroponics? Have you any tomato growing tips to share with a first-time grower?

Growing Basil in the Aerogarden Bounty: Update – 1 Month

Before I started my journey into hydroponics I was skeptical about them; did they really have the success that the ads claimed, or were they just expensive toys?

Since the weather outside is too harsh to grow most of my ideal plants most of the year, I decided to dip my toes in the water… and it only took a couple months before I dived head first. This post really shows just why I changed my mine, and so fast.

It’s been one month since I started my Aerogarden Bounty with basil seeds; specifically Genovese Basil, Thai Basil and some “Sweet basil” from Egypt (sweet basil is often the common name for the Genovese variety). And this is the growth:

Aerogarden Bounty Growing Basil, 1 Month Growth
Aerogarden Bounty Growing Basil, 1 Month Growth

The growth would be much larger, but I have been harvesting from the plants on a regular basis. In fact I had harvested only a day or two before taking these photo.

Aerogarden Bounty Growing Basil, 1 Month Growth
Aerogarden Bounty Growing Basil, 1 Month Growth

I’ve harvested about 80g of basil so far. That’s about 4 cups of fresh basil. Last time I grew basil in the Aerogarden Bounty I was much more prolific in harvesting, and the plants easily handled the output without dying. I only destroyed the plants as we had an aphid infestion, bought in from another plant.

This time I want my plants to become much larger than before, so I am purposely harvesting as little as possible (4 cups as little as possible…). Each branch grows three leaves, and if you trim the centre leaf it encourages the other two to become branches (thus doubling the size of output per branch). This process is allowing some of the leaves to grow quite large:

I wonder, have you used an Aerogarden (or other brand) hydroponic machine? Or perhaps you have tried the DIY hydroponics made from a mason jar? What have you grown?

Growing Edible Red Leaf Amaranth in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2

I’ve never eaten Amaranth before, but it has so many health benefits that I thought I would try it out:

  • It is an appetite suppressant; what better way to manage weight than just to not be as hungry and eat smaller portions?
  • The leaves are high in vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. It has twice the calcium as milk!
  • It contains essential Lysine which can help your body absorb calcium, and is great for hair development. Apparently it can help soften and smooth hair, especially grey hairs.

It’s now been 2 weeks since I planted my seeds into their Kratky hydroponics bucket. Sorry I forgot to do a week 1 update…

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

Here is my Amaranth growing in their kratky bucket. They are under a rather yellow LED grow light, so unfortunately all the photos are rather yellow. I may replace this light eventually, but its also quite good as growing seedlings under as its not all that strong.

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

Unlike my Kale and Swiss Chard that were started in rock wool, these Amaranth were started in the Aerogarden Bounty with Jiffy 36mm Peat Pellets. Once they were about a week old I transplanted them to the cloning collars. These seedlings are now completely soilless or rockless!

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

I really love the coloring that is developing on the leaves. On the tops of the leaves the color is closer to a purple or maroon, whilst the underside of the leaf seems to grow a very vidid red. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

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

Have you eaten amaranth before? How would you describe the taste?

Growing Nero Toscana Kale in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 5

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 5
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 5

I love Kale, especially as a healthy alternative oven baked chip. I am honestly surprised that I haven’t been able to eat my kale… its growing faster than I can eat it!

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 5
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 5

If you look underneath the gorgeous silver colored leaves you can see that they have plenty of new growth emerging. Like I said, growing faster than I seem to be able to eat.

I am really happy with how the kale is growing. There is a chance that within the next two weeks I will do a complete harvest from these plants to start new seedlings. The weather is changing towards winter and I suspect that new plants will grow much more proficiently, giving much higher harvests in the future… (wait do I need even more yields if I am already struggling to consume it all?)

Have you grown kale before? What’s your favourite variety? What’s your favourite way of eating kale? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Nero Toscana Kale in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4

This week saw many of the plants explode with growth, and the Nero Toscana Kale was no exception. It doubled in size!

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

The leaves still have their gorgeous silver color that I am definitely falling in love with. I want to grow this plant as just decorative…

You can see the smaller and newer leaves emerging form many of the plant centre points, whilst the bigger and larger leaves are now overflowing and fighting for space.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

I planted five kale plants to each Ikea Sockerbit bucket, and I have definitely decided that this plant needs the extra spacing. In the future I will plant only three kale plants per bucket. Unlike lettuce which I tend to harvest more regularly, I was waiting for the leaves on this Nero Toscana Kale to grow larger; the kale has less but much larger leaves compared to the lettuces.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

I am going to harvest the kale tonight. I probably will leave some of the smaller leaves on the plants and let them keep growing, but the larger leaves definitely need to come off! It’s time to eat.

In fact I am probably going to do a large harvest of many plants over the next few days. I’ll make a post soon about how much I get from each of the plants. Check the blog soon for these details.

Have you grown kale? Did it look like mine? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Swiss Chard in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2

Swiss chard lies between spinach and kale—not as tender as spinach, not as tough as kale.

That sounds delicious! I adore both spinach and kale, so Swiss chard seems to be a natural choice for me to grow. I haven’t eaten much Swiss Chard in recent years, mostly as I don’t tend to see it for sale in the shops in Kuwait.

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

We’ve been getting a couple of dust storms in Kuwait lately, and sadly my grow room has been slowly collecting. It’s especially noticeable on the shiny black buckets. Thankfully we are moving into autumn and as the weather gets cooler we will get some respite from dusty weather.

The Swiss Chard is growing beautifully. Last week they started to grow their adult leaves. One thing I have noticed when seedlings grow their adults leaves is that they will go through a growth spurt – the stems will thicken, they will usually double in height and throw out another two or so leaves, all within about a week!

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

These Swiss Chard are the Bright Lights variety; the stems can grow yellow, orange or bright red. You can see that I have definitely got some yellows and reds growing. When I thinned the plants out or transplanted seedlings between containers I tried to keep an even number of each color.

In the above photo you can see the Swiss Chard up close, the second bucket is a mix of Swiss Chard and Kale transplants (I transplanted rather than killed the extra seeds that sprouted), and then the Kale at the far end. In total I have about 8 Swiss Chard plants growing, and a total of 15 Swiss Chard and Kale plants. You can read more about how the Kale is growing in the post

“Growing Nero Toscana Kale in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2” is locked Growing Nero Toscana Kale in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2

Have you grown Swiss Chard in hydroponics before? How fast did yours grow? Whats your favourite stem color?

Kratky Hydroponic Lavewa and Matador Spinach – Update: Week 1

For a long time now I have been trying to grow spinach, and its led me on quite a learning journey. I discovered that Kuwait is typically too hot for spinach to germinate, yet some varieties will still grow in the typical climate-controlled rooms. This is when I learned How to Speed Up Seed Germination With Stratification and why its so helpful; its the process of exposing your seeds to an artificial frost to stimulate germination. Some plants require frost in order to even germinate – like strawberries. Other plants like spinach germinate better at low temperatures, but require warmer temperatures for the seedlings to grow.

With a slight doubt in my heart I attempted the stratifying experiment just over two weeks ago using MIGardener’s method of stratifying seeds in your fridge.

And it worked! Within a few days my seeds started to grow their first roots! I couldn’t believe it. Within a week of starting the stratification process I had already transplanted my spinach seeds into their kratky buckets. Weeks of trying to get spinach seeds to germinate directly… and I could have just done this very simple step with 100% success rate.

It now means that I can theoretically grow spinach throughout the year (assuming my grow room doesn’t get too hot in the peak of summer).

It’s been one week, so how are the little seedlings faring?

Growing Lavewa Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1
Growing Lavewa Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1

Not too bad actually! The larger spinach seedlings (middle row, left) was some of the first to germinate and thus were planted a few days earlier than their brethren so he is slightly larger. Most still have their grown domes on to help maintain a humid environment and encourage that early growth.

Growing Matador Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1
Growing Matador Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1

Out of all the spinach seeds that I planted after stratifying, I lost one (perhaps transplanting him a little too early into a too warm environment). It wasn’t a particular problem as I stratified more seeds than net cups, so I had a few extra seeds that germinated to replace the lost baby.

For a while we may have had the grow lights too close; some of the very tips of the leaves show tip-burn from excess heat. We’ve since raised the light by a couple inches.

Growing Lavewa Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1
Growing Lavewa Spinach in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1

A close up shows that the largest of the spinach seems to be growing quite well. He’s put out his first true leaves, and is growing his second set. And I just love how his cotyledon leaves (the long thing ones) stick up a bit like rabbit ears or antenna! So cute!

Have you grown spinach in hydroponics? How well did they grow for you? Have you tried stratifying any seeds? Let me know in the comments below.

Growing Nero Toscana Kale in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2

I love kale. Offer me any leafy green and chances are I will pick kale. So I am obviously quite excited that my kale is growing.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2

I have a bit of a a dust problem in my grow room, but we’ve been having a couple days of dust storms in Kuwait. We are moving towards winter, so hopefully the dust will reduce over the coming month or two.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2

The kale are still kind of spindly; you can see them sort of falling over with the weight of their leaves. I suspect in the coming week the stems are going to firm up a lot as the leaves start to collect more energy from the lights.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2

This week saw the kale starting to grow their first real leaves. They have even started growing their second sets of leaves. I have noticed that once plants start to put out their “real” leaves the plants tend to suddenly go through a huge growth spurt.

Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2
Nero Toscana Kale Grown In Kratky Container, Week 2

Have you grown kale hydroponically? How fast did yours grow?

How to Speed Up Seed Germination With Stratification

I’ve been having trouble getting my spinach to germinate. This prompted research Seed Germination Temperatures. I learnt that it was just way too hot in Kuwait for spinach to germinate at the moment. Furthermore some seeds need to be exposed to frost, or low temperatures, to germinate. Yet many countries doesn’t experience frost… and thats when you should “stratify” your seeds.

Stratification is essentially emulating frost temperatures with modern technology such as fridges and freezers. It’s a great option if you live in countries that just don’t get cold enough to otherwise germinate the plants, yet not so hot that the plants can’t grow as seedlings.

Seeds that take 2-3 weeks to germinate will often germinate faster when stratified first. Too slow of a process could mean that the seeds don’t get the ideal moisture from the soil (if growing hydroponically this usually isn’t an issue), and reduces the risk of growing mould and other diseases (can be an issue when growing hydroponically).

Here is a great video from YouTuber MIGardener that talks about how and why to stratify your seeds.

I attempted the technique that MIGardener teaches (video above), and it worked! I was about ready to give up after 3 attempts to get my spinach to germinate had failed.

My grow room is now reaching around 26°C (78°F) during the day; when the temperature is at 77°F rates drop to about 30% and can take a week or longer. Using the stratification technique allowed me to grow the seeds earlier than normal (whilst it was still too warm for the seeds to normally germinate), and gave me a 100% success rate!

Have you tried statifying any seeds? What is your success or failure stories for seed germination? Share with me in the comments below.

Growing Bok Choy in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1

Bak Choy has more names than I realised; depending upon where you live you might call it pak choy, sui bok choy, Chinese cabbage or even “soup spoon” for the shape of it’s leaves. I grew up calling it by it’s most common name of Bok Choy.

Can you grow bok choy in hydroponics? One week ago I planted some bok choy seeds into my Kratky net cups to see just how successful I could grow. The first hurdle was to see if they would germinate.

Growing Bok Choy in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1
Growing Bok Choy in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1

I only have the one photo for this post, sorry. It was really hard to get my camera to focus on the bok choy: the stem and green leaves are so very similar in hue, and unfortunately almost the exact same hue as the rock wool.