We have learned a lot of lessons on our first attempt to grow hydroponically. Here is where we stand so far:
Kratky Hydroponics Setup
Two weeks a go we placed the net pots into the Kratky Method setup. The setup was done on our front porch. This got the containers away from the yard, where bugs would feast, and kept it very accessible for frequent checking.
However, it turned out that the bugs were the least of our worries. More on that soon.
We definitely saw the fallout of not having a proper setup before starting this. Our seed starting setup was very inadequate for light, which caused the plants to stem longer than they should.
Because of this, when we placed the seedlings in the Kratky setup and placed them out in the elements, they got a little shocked. The plants fell over from their long stems and their leaves looked liked they had been over watered.
I know that sounds dumb – the plants looking over watered when I had placed them in a bucket of water – but it is the best description for the limpy-looking yellowing that they did.
The plants recovered well. I am sure they would be doing better if they had been started properly, but they are growing again, nonetheless.
I had contacted MHPGardener and he confirmed that the poor start of the plants – them getting leggy – was the cause of my problem. While he advised me to restart – and I believe that to be good advice – I delayed and chose to give the plants a chance to turn around.
After all, this is an experiment.
After the first week, they perked up. New leaves were being formed and older leaves were getting big and gaining color. Come the second week, they were looking good, tough behind in terms of how soon they should have reached this stage.
It has been fairly dry here the last few weeks until a few days ago when it rained fairly consistently for +12 hours. Few big downpours, just consistent rain.
I did not have a covering to protect the lettuces from the rain, which meant that the rain collected on the top of the rubber tub and then down into the tub itself.
The water reached to bottom of the lid over the time it rained. I used a large cup to collect and dump out the excess water. My concern with this is that the fertilizer is not diluted.
I am sure the plants will still grow well, but perhaps not as vigorously because of this issue.
Plants and Animals
Remember I mentioned bugs? Forget bugs. Worry about ducks.
When I first sat out the plants I placed a modular baby gate around them as a fence. When I went out to remove the excess water, I forgot to replace the fence.
2 hours later our oldest son hollered that the ducks were eating the lettuce. Sigh.
5 were eaten up and will not return. Talk about a hard lesson learned.
Our lessons for growing hydroponically are now up to:
- Use the right light to start the seeds.
- If things look bleak, give it a week – they might bounce back.
- Have a way to provide a cover in case it rains so your solution is not diluted.
- Keep veggie eating animals away at all times. A seedling only take a nibble to devour.
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You can watch our video about Kratky Hydroponics by clicking the link, or watching below: