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?

Growing Swiss Chard in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 4

I don’t think I have ever really eaten Swiss Chard before, at least not in my adult life enough to really remember what it tastes like. Tonight’s harvest is going to be great! Its certainly grown enough to give us a gorgeously large harvest.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

The Swiss Chard is now so large that they are overflowing the container! They are just begging me to eat them.. The larger leaves are now fighting for space, and are really crowding out some of the smaller leaves.

As I expected when planting my seeds, I have packed too many plants too close together. The photo above is five Swiss Chard plants into one Ikea Sockerbit bucket. Next time I would definitely plant only three per bucket.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

As you can see, the plants are fighting too much for space; their stems and leaves are pushing so much on their neighbours that they are actually pushing the net cups up and out of their holes. Light wasn’t getting into the bucket, but it is a sign that I should harvest.

You can see the gorgeous stem colors in the above photo – thats one of the beautiful features of the Bright Light variety; its stem colors range from greenish-yellow to purple-red.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

The leaves on the plants I am growing are absolutely massive! I cannot believe their size. In this photo I am spreading out my fingertips as wide as possible, and you can’t even see my fingers! The leaves are bigger than my head! No wonder they are fighting for space.

The size of the leaves shows that its a completely viable crop to grow indoors, which I am so grateful for as Kuwait’s weather really wouldn’t allow these to be grown for the very majority of the year outdoors.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4
Bright Lights Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 4

Since I am growing indoors hydroponically, the leaves are absolutely pristine. No exposure to pests or bugs, and limited exposure to dust. The leaves have incredibly glossy shine, and are impossibly green. I haven’t seen lettuce or any other vegetables sold in stores locally with the green shades that my plants are producing. All the plants I have eaten are amazingly crispy, and what I could only describe as juicy. It’s just phenomenal.

Have you grown Swiss Chard before? What’s your favourite variety, or color stem? Let me know in the comments below!

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.