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 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.

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?

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.

Growing San Marzano Tomatoes in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 3

I wouldn’t have believed it a month ago when you said I could grow tomatoes so easily in Kuwait’s hot desert weather; but here I am, just growing tomatoes. Of course I cheated a little by growing them inside the house, in a climate controlled area… and then I removed the soil and decided to grow them hydroponically.

And they are still growing!

My little plant babies are now three weeks old, and wow have they grown. This was them only one week ago:

Their stems had just started to turn brownish tinged close to the cloning collars. They both also had two new branches.

And this is them now, at three weeks old:

I just can’t believe how fast they are growing. I can turn my grow lights off at night, then when I re-enter in the morning they have grown an entire branch! No joking, I have seen an entire baby branch just pop up in the space of a few hours.

I have preemptively placed their first trellis support bars. Since we are using custom painted Ikea Ivar cabinets to hold our plants, we bought the bottle rack as a DIY trellis. This provides some basic support for the plants, and lets me tie them in place. We can also easily raise or lower the bottle rack as needed, and even add more as the tomatoes grow in height.

San Marzano Tomato Week 3, In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato Week 3, In Kratky Hydroponics

This is the weaker of the two tomatoes; he isn’t growing as fast. He now has four branches, two of which are fairly large. I noticed that once the dominate grower had put out one or two smaller branches, he had substantial increase in growth speed. I expect this one would probably grow much faster in the coming week.

The dominate grower is outpacing him pretty fast; he has a total of nine little branches all emerging. He’s also about 2″ (5cm) taller than his sibling. His centre branch is just touching the trellis bars, so hopefully in the next few days he will be resting against it and can be supported with the tie.

San Marzano Tomato Week 3, In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato Week 3, In Kratky Hydroponics

Both tomato plants seem to be developing some good root structures. I couldn’t lift the buckets out too high as the trellis bars are now in the way, but you can see the roots extend much further down into the bucket and nutrient water. The roots are nice and white, which is a sign of plant health when it comes to hydroponics.

San Marzano Tomato Week 3, In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato Week 3, In Kratky Hydroponics

Have you grown tomatoes hydroponically, or maybe traditionally in soil? Do you have any tips to share with a first-time grower?

Growing San Marzano Tomatoes in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 2

One week ago I transplanted San Marzano tomatoes into a Kratky hydroponic container, and we were left wondering if they survived. Here is it in Week 1:

San Marzano Transplanted into Kratky, Week 1
San Marzano Transplanted into Kratky, Week 1

I’m glad to say that not only did they survive, they have started growing wonderfully!

San Marzano Tomato Seedling Week 2, In Kratky Hydrponics
San Marzano Tomato Seedling Week 2, In Kratky Hydrponics

The two tiny specks of leaves became much larger, and we now have four to five tiny new leaves beginning to grow on each section. The original leaves have definitely turned into stems, and hopefully they will eventually become branches.

San Marzano Tomato Seedling Week 2, In Kratky Hydrponics
San Marzano Tomato Seedling Week 2, In Kratky Hydrponics

The trunk of the tomato (can it be called a trunk yet?) is about three times the thickness than when I transplanted it. The fine fuzz on it has also thickened up and become much more apparent. I don’t know enough about botany to explain what this section does – if you know please let me know in the comments!

San Marzano Tomato Seedling Week 2, In Kratky Hydroponics
San Marzano Tomato Seedling Week 2, In Kratky Hydroponics

I’m not brave enough to lift the lid and look under. The water level was filled right to the brim of the container, and I mean right to the point of overflowing. I’m worried that if I lift it I will not only introduce light to the system, I may disturb the seedling as well. Maybe next week we can check out if there is growth.

Have you grown any tomatoes in hydroponics? I’d love to know your success (and failure) stories.

Transplanting San Marzano Tomatoes into Kratky Hydroponics

So far in my hydroponic journey I have been starting my seeds in my Aerogarden Bounty; it has the highest rate of success. There is just something this machine does better than I can, which is also a reason why I recommend anyone interested in hydroponics without the scary setup look at the Aerogarden product range.

On the 1st August 2019 I planted some San Marzano tomato seeds in my Aerogarden. It’s been a week (a bit longer by the time I got around to writing this article, but photos taken on date) and it’s time to transplant my tomatoes into their final home. Exciting!

When I previously transplanted some lettuce between the Aerogarden and Kratky setup, it didn’t go as well as I hoped: my poor plants suffered a lot of shock. I since learnt that I had let the roots get too large, and the transplanting process really hurt the plants (by ripping the roots right off!).

After learning from all my recent plant murder attempts, I am transplanting the tomatoes the moment the roots emerged; one week after planting the seedlings!

Here are the tomatoes just prior to transplanting. The seedling wearing his seed pod as a hat is so cute!

My kratky container is the Klämtare Box With Lid from Ikea. It’s a great option as the plastic they use is food-safe. It’s also large enough for two tomato plants.

I used a 3″ hole saw to drill into the lid, since I was using a 3″ net cup. You could always buy a hole saw kit with several sized pieces (I bought one of these kits as well). I also chose to transplant from the peat moss to a cloning collar, though this was a personal choice. Underneath the cloning collar was clay pebbles; it is recommended to add some grow medium underneath the collar in case you ever need to remove it, as it provides significant support to the plant and sudden removal could mean the plant falls over!

San Marzano Transplanted into Kratky, Week 1
San Marzano Transplanted into Kratky, Week 1

Fingers crossed that the seedlings survive now. I’ve only transplanted once or twice, and they have all survived, but taken a bit of stress in the process.

Have you transplanted tomatoes, or any other plants? Do you have any tips to share?