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.

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.