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 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 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?

Growing Swiss Chard in Kratky Hydroponics – Update: Week 1

Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Image Courtesy of Botanical Interests
Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Image Courtesy of Botanical Interests

It’s been one week since I planted my Swiss Chard seeds in my Kratky hydroponic container, and its time to see how they have grown! The variety is Bright Lights.

Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 1
Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 1

Please excuse the dusty lid; whilst my plants are growing inside, we still get quite a lot of dust from dust storms, and just general air. I also noticed that my paint hadn’t fully cured and was slightly sticky, thus catching all those little dust particles.

Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 1
Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 1

4 out of 5 of my Bright Lights Swiss Chard plants sprouted, and have grown enough to remove the little grow dome (salvaged from some used Aerogarden Bounty pods).

Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 1
Swiss Chard Grown In Kratky Container, Week 1

One net cup did not sprout anything at all, even though I planted three seeds in each cup. In itself I would consider this just bad luck, but in the kale bucket beside this one the same outer cup didn’t grow there either.

The rock wool medium is wet, so the seed should be getting enough moisture to germinate. Perhaps there is too little light reaching these outer cups? I have switched the outer cup with an inner cup in the hopes that it gets the light needed for a slightly later blooming, but so far nothing.

Do you have any idea why just one cup might not germinate? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Seed Germination Temperatures

A bit over a week ago I planted some spinach seeds, and sadly they didn’t germinate. I began a bit of research as to why. Despite my spinach varieties being hardy to warm weather, they still need cooler soil to germinate! The adult growth stage can handle warmer temperatures but the seedlings are too vulnerable still.

I began to wonder what I could grow with my current temperatures. It’ll also be handy to know the minimum temperatures for when the seasons change.

Whilst my plants aren’t being planted in soil, instead hydroponic is usually planted in rock wool or peat moss, the germination temperature should theoretically remain the same.

Optimal °FOptimal °C
Amaranth, Red Leaf68-7520-24
Basil, Purple Petra65–8518-30
Basil, Genovese70 – 9021 – 32
Broccoli45 -85 7-29
Cilantro55-7013-21
Cucumber, Lemon70–9021-32
Kale, Nero Toscana 65–8518-30
Lettuce, Little Gem (Romaine)40-755 – 24
Lettuce, New Red Fire60–7016-21
Lettuce, Red Sails60–7016-21
Lettuce, Red Salad Bowl50-7210-22
Pepper, Cayenne65-9518-35
Pepper, Jalapeño 65-9518-35
Spinach, Matador50–7510-24
Spinach, Lavewa50–7510-24
Spring Onion68-7720-25
Swiss Chard, Bright Lights75–9024-32
Swiss Chard, Lyon50 – 7510 – 24
Taisai, Pak Choy50- 8010 – 27
Tomato, Marmande VR60 – 7015 – 20
Tomato (Cherry), Supersweet 100 FT75 -9021-32
Tomato, Sam Marzano70–9021-32

I measured my Aerogarden water and it’s hitting a maximum of 85°F (30°C)! No wonder my spinach never sprouted, its ideal temperature is 50-75°F (10-24°C). Its just way too hot for them.

I’ll have to wait a while for the weather to get a bit cooler before I can sprout spinach; in the meantime I can try growing some Bright Lights Swiss Chard and Nero Toscana Kale.

Expected Grow Times of Kratky Hydroponic Plants

I’d like to figure out how fast I can expect my plants to grow. Most seed packets and websites tell you how fast seeds grow assuming you are using soil, But hydroponics can grow up to 50% faster!

I doubt very much that my first hydroponic plants will grow 50% faster, however that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t expect to start harvesting from roughly that time onwards. You rarely need to wait until the plant reaches full maturity before you can harvest; just pull off leaves as needed and let the plant keep growing. I added “Potential Maturity” to the table below, but realistically that’s when I suspect I may be able to get my first harvest.

Earlier in the week I announced that we were hoping to grow the following vegetables and fruits in our Kratky hydroponic tubs:

  • Amaranth, Red Leaf
  • Basil, Purple Petra
  • Cucumber, Lemon Cucumber
  • Lettuce, New Red Fire
  • Lettuce, Red Sails
  • Spinach, Matador
  • Spinach, Lavewa
  • Swiss Chard, Bright Lights
  • Tomato, San Marzano

All of our seeds were purchased from Sustainable Organic Q8, and appear to have been imported from Botanical Interests. You can read more about my search from seeds in the post Where to buy organic seeds in Kuwait.

Days To MaturityPotential Maturity
Amaranth, Red Leaf90-11045-60
Basil, Purple Petra45-5523-28
Cucumber, Lemon6532
Lettuce, New Red Fire5527
Lettuce, Red Sails4523
Spinach, Matador28-4814-24
Spinach, Lavewa28-4514-24
Swiss Chard, Bright Lights5226
Tomato, San Marzano80-9040-45

I’d really to have some plants growing, or even harvestable, by late September/early October. Thats approximately 50-60 days from now. We have space for 2 large plants, along with at least 3 smaller plants and maximum of 5 plants.

San Marzano Tomato Artwork, Courtesy of Botanical Interests
San Marzano Tomato Artwork, Courtesy of Botanical Interests

The San Marzano Tomatoes are planned as a permanent setup, so these will take priority in one of the largest plant spaces. This tomato plant will be approximately 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8m) in height!

Lemon Cucumber Artwork, Courtesy of Botanical Interests
Lemon Cucumber Artwork, Courtesy of Botanical Interests

Whilst not quite as large as the tomatoes, the Lemon Cucumbers will stand about 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2m) in height. This will fill my second large grow area.

There are debates online about which spinach is “better”; matador apparently grows better in many conditions, but the Lavewa looks prettier and is slightly tastier. We want to test both of these spinaches side by side. They grow at the same rate, so we will test both the Lavewa Spinach and the Matador Spinach together.

Amaranth Artwork, Courtesy of Botanical Interests
Amaranth Artwork, Courtesy of Botanical Interests

I want to stagger the harvesting of my plants; I don’t want all my fresh leaf plants to mature at the same time, and then go one to two months with little food. So I have decided that I will start the Amaranth as well for this first hydroponic growth cycle. Granted, with its growth speed, I may be able to grow two batches of spinach by the time it reaches full maturity.

If I can fit anymore plants in my grow area I will add the Swiss Chard and the New Red Fire Lettuce.

What about you?

What are you growing this season? Did you calculate how long it takes to grow? Did you have to plan around seasons and temperature outdoors? Let me know what you’re growing!

Where to buy organic seeds in Kuwait

Don’t want to read? Here’s a quick list of links:

After researching a bit, and probably jumping into the water too fast when it comes to buying products like grow lights, I have purchased some seeds to grow in my Krakty hydroponic room setup.

Buying seeds was a specific hassle in Kuwait; the very few and limited stores that sold seeds only sold the very common varieties. Think Beefsteak tomatoes; the probably most common tomato you can find at any supermarket. Since such tomatoes are so easy to buy, I want to grow something more unique.

In fact, we even found a nursery selling seeds with the giant warning label on the back: “Warning. Treated with poison. Do not consume or grow food products from these.” What?!

In the end we found a company called Sustainable Organic Q8 that seems to import from reliable producers.

They delivered within 48 hours. We have been very happy with the brand of seeds that Sustainable Organic Q8 sells; which is Botanical Interest. They contain a lot of seeds in the pack, and they so far have a really high germination rate (for me its 100%).

Update – 24th August 2019: We found another Kuwait website selling seeds called My Organic World, though the website is all in Arabic (use Chrome web browser for auto-translate to browse in English). We bought from them, and they delivered within 24 hours! Unfortunately they sold brands Sperli and Kiepenkerl which consensus online says they can be quite expensive compared to competitors. One of the packs we bought only had 5 seeds in it! Not a reflection of My Organic World, but the seed producers themselves.

Update – 31st August 2019: Another Kuwaiti website selling seeds called PlantNMore. though the website is all in Arabic (use Chrome web browser for auto-translate to browse in English). I haven’t bought from this company yet.

Do you know anywhere else in Kuwait to buy seeds? Please let us know in the comments.