This method uses no air pumps or water circulation pumps. In a nutshell: A shallow tub is filled with water and nutrients. A piece of styrofoam with 9 2” holes is cut to allow it to sit on top of the tub. It does not float on the water in the tub, but sits on top of the tub perimeter. When the lettuce has sufficient root stock the grow plugs are placed in 2” net pots and these are deposited in the 2” holes in the styrofoam. These base of the net pots will sit in the water. As the plants grow the water level will go down but the roots will also “grow into” the water/nutrient solution. The plants are supposed to generate small roots that will acquire oxygen from the air space that forms as the nutrient level drops. Stay tuned.
|5/26/13||started lettuce from seed. two seeds per plug. will thin out the weaker plant later.|
|5/30/13||Ordered some store display shelving constructed from heavy grade plastic. It easily snaps together, is 36” tall and its shelving comes in solid or grid form. I chose the grid form. It is the perfect height for a potting table and to hold trays of seedlings. You can buy it online at: BENCHMASTER
These racks are like lego toys. A great concept. Be sure to look around. They have many configurations.
|6/04/13||lettuce in grow plugs. The plug without lettuce never had any seeds. It was used to block sunlight from entering and causing algae. These are grown outside and receive about 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Roots are forming and these should have enough root mass in another week to be put in the final grow tray.|
|6/7/13||What you will need:
1. a suitable tub
3. 2” net pots (shown in assembled picture)
4. 2” hole saw
5. 9 lettuce plants grown from seed in “grow plugs” – must have sufficient root mass for the roots to reach the water in reservoir.
6. nutrients – mix according to their directions.
|Based upon the size of this tub I decided that it could handle a total of 9 Lettuce. Sizing is based upon space needed to accommodate lettuce as it grows rather then reservoir size.
Laying the tub on a sheet of styrofoam I traced the outline of the tub and cut it 2” larger on all sides. This styrofoam will not float in the reservoir but will suspended above it. I then place the 2” net pots on the styrofoam to determine the drill points and drilled the 2” holes. In styrofoam there is no need to drill in reverse as when drilling into plastic/pvc. The 2” netpots have a lip that will extend beyond the diameter of the hole. This will then keep the netpot from falling through the hole. As the lettuce grow it might be necessary to place additional support under the styrofoam panel to keep it from cracking.
2” hole in styrofoam – no net pot
|Use a old plastic one gallon jug and fill the reservoir to the top leaving about a 1/4” gap. Based upon the nutrients I am using I will mix 2 tblspns per gallon.
Place the grow plugs with plants in each net pot. It should not be necessary to add more water or nutrients, but as I write this I am thinking that 9 plants in this size reservoir might be too many for the reservoir to supply adequate water. If that should happen then I will have to add nutrients/water from a standby reservoir.
As you might have noticed this setup requires no electricity – no air pump no recirculation water pump. Again I read about this method and was impressed enough with the results that I thought it might be worth the effort. Its cheap too.
If you have an open hole you need to plug it. I should have kept the styrofoam plugs that were generated when drilling the holes. If you don’t plug it then you will have an algae problem. The algae will coat the roots and have an overall undesirable effect.
|6/8/13||Lost all tomato and lettuce seedlings due to high winds.
Was forced to start lettuce seedlings over and will wait until cooler weather to “restart” tomatoes.
|6/21/13||New seedlings doing well.|
|6/28/13||Some seedlings did not germinate so I am transferring the plants that did to the new “tub”|
|They look like they took a hit but I feel they will recover just find. What happened is that the water/nutrient level dropped. I added more to raise the level and all is fine.|
|7/12/13||9 plants for a container this size is too many. will drill a new styrofoam board for 6 plants. I harvested these keeping 2 for myself and giving the rest to my neighbors. I am done until October. The weather is just too hot even for lettuce. I would give this method an A+ for growing lettuce – no water circulation pumps and no aeration pumps. Just keep an eye on the water level, especially in hot weather. The plants take up a lot and you will have loss due to evaporation.|
|4/5/14||Started another Kratky setup for lettuce. This time I am growing 3 heads of Romane. Each has been grown from seed and started a few days apart. I am hoping that this staggered approach will provide a long term supply rather than 3 heads at once. I am using yellow foam plugs in the 2” empty net pots to block sunlight from entering the pan. The net pots with the plugs can also be easily lifted to add more water/nutrient as needed due to plant uptake and evaporation. Also started two tomato plants from seed. These will be transferred to a dutch bucket setup when they achieve a little more growth.|
|4/10/14||Look at the root mass on the front right lettuce compared to the smaller left rear lettuce. Same lettuce variety but different root mass hence bigger plant. Just be sure to keep the water/nutrient level up to max fill. In this container that is about 2 inches below the styrofoam.||
Above is the front right plant.
Above is the right rear plant. Much smaller plant and root mass.
|4/13/14||modified the kratky method to utilize an air pump with two air stones. The lettuce develop at different rates using the kraty method. I wanted to see if all of the splashing caused by the airstones would encourage faster growth. I also dropped in a grow plug with just a single seed. The splashing should keep the plug wet and encourage growth of the lettuce from see. I am curious to see if there is a “speed up” from seed to fully developed.||
the brown plug in the picture is a grow plug with a single lettuce seed suspended by a 2” net basket. The air stones should “splash” this plug and growth should progress. Before I had to grow them in a seedling tray and then transfer to this setup when there was sufficient root mass. I am now hoping to avoid this first step.