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.

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?