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?