Organic Profitable Backyard Farm uses Hydroponics to Grow Food Fast

China Connection

TB Fanatic
Um, in part of the YouTube below he shows Wicking Beds and how they are constructed and how they can benefit you and your garden in times of drought. Now take this idea and use it on the plastic boxes in the other thread.

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Profitable Backyard Farm uses Hydroponics to Grow Food Fast
About an hour long

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs64dF5-TPI



Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYour Greens




John from http://www.growingyourgreens.com/ goes on a field trip to Whisper Backyard Farm in Los Angeles to share with you how they are growing food fast using Hydroponics and Wicking Beds aka SIP Beds or Self Irrigated Planter Boxes to save water and run-off. In this episode, you will learn more about how you can make farming in a backyard profitable on a small scale. You will get a full tour of this backyard farm that operates in Los Angeles as a urban farm. First, you will see a better way to use your front yard - to grow a permaculture style food forest. You will learn the different kinds of trees that are planted in the front yard. You will learn how to pick a ripe finger lime and see the finger lime caviar that grows inside. You will learn about SIP Beds aka Self-Irrigated Planters aka Wicking Beds and how they are constructed and how they can benefit you and your garden in times of drought.
 
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Border Collie Dad

Veteran Member
Just mentioned to my daughter this morning that I wanted to set up a small hydroponic garden in my basement.
A while back I got most of the stuff.
I discovered the "Kratky method"
No pumps necessary.

There's some stuff on YouTube
 

Cardinal

Snark: a higher form of communication
_______________
Just mentioned to my daughter this morning that I wanted to set up a small hydroponic garden in my basement.
A while back I got most of the stuff.
I discovered the "Kratky method"
No pumps necessary.

There's some stuff on YouTube
I have the same plan BCD. Can you please elaborate on the Kratky method?
 

China Connection

TB Fanatic
The Kratky Method - Grow Food The Passive Hydroponic Way (Step by Step Guide)
Profile picture for user Max
by Max - last update on December 6, 2019, 8:30 pm
Lettuces grown with the Kratky method

Starting with Hydroponics is easier than it seems.
You don't need to grow big or use expensive equipment to have a hydroponic garden of your own.
Today I'm going to share with you an incredibly exciting type of Hydroponic system. It is very easy to set up and use, and obviously a great starter for anyone new to Hydroponics.
You'll also learn to build the system step-by-step with illustrating images.
Enter the Kratky Method.
What is the Kratky Method?
This method is discovered by B.A. Kratky from the University of Hawaii.
In essence, Kratky can be seen as the Deep Water Culture, but without a pump.
Deep-Water-Culture-without-pump

Though Deep Water Culture is a simple and easy-to-build technique among the 6 types of hydroponic systems, Kratky makes it easier and cheaper. That is because, with Kratky, growers don't need to buy the electronic devices and don't require the electricity to run.

People say you can build a Kratky system and "set it and forget it". Plants are let to do their own things until harvest time. That's somewhat true. It is because Kratky is a completely passive system. There is no electricity used as well as no pumps and wick needed.
Growers also don't have to change nutrients in the reservoir much often like other systems.
So theoretically, Krafty is a low-maintenance system that can work on its own for weeks.
How does it work?
The Kratky method

As you may have known what plants need from our nutrient post and hydroponic nutrients reviews,
basically plants require oxygen, water, and lighting to survive. To reach its full potential growth, they will need macronutrients and micronutrients.

The Kratky method supplies plants with all of these in a simple way:
Nutrients are added to the container/reservoir.
Plants are placed into a net pot with the growing media (like hydroton, rockwool,...) held by a lid, and hung above the water.
Plants roots are partly submerged into the water and partly exposed to the air. People do that to ensure that plants can get water as well as oxygen.
As the plants grow, the water level will decline as plants absorb the water in the system, leaving a gap of the roots exposing to the air. The "air gap" is essential because it is where the plants respire.
So that means towards times, plants are still able to take up sufficient nutrient, water, and oxygen.
For fast-growing vegs, when the water in the system is almost empty, your plants may have reached their harvest time. If you want to let the plants continue growing, you can add more water and nutrient solution, and recheck the pH level.
Tools Needed
  • A container/reservoir Depending on how large the plants and how big you want your Kratky system to be. A milk jar also works if the plants grown are small. We use a 5-gallon black bucket.
  • A lid. A plastic one or even a styrofoam also work. The lid is very important. It keeps plants from pests and disease, prevents water in the container from vaporing. And most importantly, it supports the plants above the water. If your reservoir already has a lid, no need to get another. But if it doesn't, you must get one.
  • Net pots. Again, choose the size you want. We use the 3-inch Hydrofarm Net Cup.
  • Growing medium. We prefer Hydroton as it is easy to work with, pH neutral, and have good air aeration
  • Hydroponic nutrient. We use General Hydroponics Nutrient 3 part package.
  • pH measurement tools. a pH meter helps check the pH level of your system.
  • A pH control kit. You should occasionally use the pH kit to check the pH level of your system whether is too low or too high and adjust it accordingly.

Here is the list of items we use for the system.
 

China Connection

TB Fanatic
Here is the list of items we use for the system.

ImageProduct namePrice
5 Gallon BucketCheck Prices
Compact Drill/DriverCheck Prices
Carbon Hole Saw with Mandrel 3"Check Prices
Net Pots - 3 InchesCheck Prices
Hydroton (Growing Media)Check Prices
General Hydroponics NutrientsCheck Prices
pH meterCheck Prices
pH control kitsCheck Prices

How to set up a Kratky system
Kratky Method Step 1



 
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China Connection

TB Fanatic
Step 1:
Drill/cut the lid, creating a hole large enough to place and hold a net pot.
Kratky Method Step 2

Step 2:
Fill the reservoir with water (distilled, or tap water is fine as long as it is not contaminated).
Kratky Method Step 3

Step 3:
Add the Hydroponic nutrients at suggested amounts bottle by bottle. Stir after filling with the liquid from each Hydroponic bottle.
Kratky Method Step 4

Step 4:
Check the pH level of your solution with the pH meter. If it is within 5.5 - 6.5, the nutrient solution is right.
Kratky Method Step 5

Step 5:
Adjust the pH level with the pH kit if it drifts out of the suggested number at between 5.5 to 6.5.
Kratky Method Step 6

Step 6:
Place the net pot with growing media, and plants onto the drilled lid. Keep parts of the roots hung freely in the air, and the other parts sunk into the nutrient solution.
What types of plants can you grow with Kratky Method:
The Kratky works best with leafy greens, plants that enjoy a fast-growing rate. These include lettuces, spinaches, herbs.
You can also grow larger plants like tomatoes or peppers, but you will need a larger container. And growing larger plants will need your more regular checking to ensure the water and nutrient level at 2-3 inches in order to give the roots access to water and oxygen as well.

Potential Challenges and Downsides of the Kratky Method
Suitable for small plants

Namely the leafy green ones like lettuce, spinach. It's not efficient for fruits like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other heavy large-space craving plants.

Not built for larger systems
If you want to have an efficient hydroponic garden that can surprise your friends, and provide some foods for your family, Kratky system can do well. But if you want to grow it big, or produce food on a larger scale, a recirculating and electricity-run method is more practical.

Pests
Kratky is a passive system that runs quietly. That can be inviting for pests like mosquitos and others like crickets, spiders, grasshoppers. It's just a natural reaction, so be sure to expect and handle them.

Covering the container is important
This is why the lid plays a crucial part. It helps protect the system from outside factors like pests, rainwater, temperature. Many people like to grow outdoors for the full sunlight. Make sure that rainwater does not enter the tank. Too much of it, and the water level of your system can increase and plants can get drown. Also, the pH level and ppm of your system may change subsequently. So get some sort of protection like a roof above the system. But mostly if your plants grow well, they can absorb and keep most of the rainwater from entering. For heavy rains, better to bring your system inside.

Take control of other factors
In reality, Krafty is not completely hands-off. There are lots of variables that you need to be aware of.

Using high-quality water, thoroughly mix the nutrient and keep the nutrient water's pH at an appropriate level for the initial set-up are very important. Otherwise, you need to check and adjust them regularly later. But it's better that you should occasionally check the pH level, the water level, and ppm to ensure plants' optimal growth.

Temperature can also not be stable most of the time. So keep the system in the places where there is no rapid change of it. Have some ventilation methods in the hot summer weather does help.

Bottom Line
Even though you will need a pump and the electricity to run like in the Deep Water Culture, Kratky method proves that you can still grow plants (especially green vegs) well passively.

The Kratky method is no doubt a simple and relaxing way to try with Hydroponics. If I am to recommend a simple easy-to-build system for beginners and kids, the Kratky system will definitely be one of them.

Other resources:

Want to learn how to build the Kratky method the visual way? We have made a handy infographic here.

If you find it useful, please share, tweet, and pin it to your friends. Thanks a lot!


 
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Border Collie Dad

Veteran Member
I'm interested in growing broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
I have (guess) 4'X6' cement mixing tub for the nutrients

Need to round up all my stuff and see if I can get this going
 

Cardinal

Snark: a higher form of communication
_______________
Ya might find the nutrients a tad pricey. I did back when I did hydroponic tomatoes.
 

Border Collie Dad

Veteran Member
Thanks for that info, Stan.
I had gotten quarts of nutrients when I started gathering stuff.
I'll be checking your site out.
Long time ago, I did but lost the link
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Gardening with Leon and Arms Family Homestead on YouTube both have videos on hydroponic gardening. I highly recommend watching the videos before spending a lot of money on supplies a lot of 53 stuff used most of us already have on hand. And there’s the guy in Michigan, Michigan Gardener I think.
 

Stanb999

Senior Member
Gardening with Leon and Arms Family Homestead on YouTube both have videos on hydroponic gardening. I highly recommend watching the videos before spending a lot of money on supplies a lot of 53 stuff used most of us already have on hand. And there’s the guy in Michigan, Michigan Gardener I think.
IT's true... We started nutrient and a sterlite tote. It doesn't take much to get going. Now we produce tons of produce for the community.
 

Stanb999

Senior Member
Try not to buy the stuff thats a liquid. It ends up being much more expensive. It is hard to buy very small amounts cheaply. But if your willing to spend closer to 60 bucks you can have a big supply that will last for several years. Buy your greens nutrient from Chem gro.Lettuce Formula [5lbs Bag] | Hydro-Gardens We use lettuce nutrient for all our greens. Then you get your calcium nitrate from amazon "greenway Biotech". Amazon.com : Calcium Nitrate Solution Grade Fertilizer Water Soluble Hydroponics"Greenway Biotech Brand" 5 Pounds : Garden & Outdoor Then get your epson salt at walmart. It's all you need to grow about 1000 head of greens or lettuce. If you get them buy some 5 gallon pails and get Gamma seals to keep the moisture out so it doesn't go bad.

I want to add we do not test our nutrient levels we mix per the instructions on the bag. We grow 10's of thousands of heads of greens a year... So it works.
 

Border Collie Dad

Veteran Member
Thanks, again, for the good info.
I bought the nutrients I linked to because I was just planning to experiment and never got around to using them.
Do they go bad?

Should I ask my questions here?
 

Border Collie Dad

Veteran Member
Here's some for starters and thanks for your help.


I do have a small (mostly unused) 10X25 "hoop house" but will start in the basement.
I have a plastic mortar mixing tub for my water and nutrients(new) with 1" styrofoam for a cover.
I'd like to start with cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Will these work?

Suggestions for pollination

Besides obvious things like corn or potatoes or root crops, is there anything that wouldn't work well?
If this experiment works, I may consider my greenhouse for season extender but not all year around.
 

Stanb999

Senior Member
Here's some for starters and thanks for your help.


I do have a small (mostly unused) 10X25 "hoop house" but will start in the basement.
I have a plastic mortar mixing tub for my water and nutrients(new) with 1" styrofoam for a cover.
I'd like to start with cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Will these work?

Suggestions for pollination

Besides obvious things like corn or potatoes or root crops, is there anything that wouldn't work well?
If this experiment works, I may consider my greenhouse for season extender but not all year around.
I would start with leafy greens, Brassicas require light timing to properly develop. Inside this can be difficult due to low light levels. In a nut shell here is what happens. You don't have enough light so you must run the lights more than 14 hours a day. The long light hours make the plant stay vegetative, so you get a huge healthy broccoli plant but no flower buds. Kale or collards would be better to try.

For good growth indoors you will require more light than you would expect. For full size plants fluorescent tubes are not bright enough even if placed directly next to each other with no gaps(a solid wall of bulbs). You will need Metal halide or HP sodium for conventional lighting or High quality LED. For Conventional lighting the rule of thumb is 1000 watts per 100 sq ft.. For LED you need 6 watts of actual power per sqft. so 600 watts per 100 Sq ft. When buying your led fixtures you have to be careful to read the description. A ton of LED lights will say something to the effect "1000 watts of led power, but saves energy and only uses 250 watts" That is a 250 watt light so you need 3 to equal a 1000 watt metal halide. Last word on the LED, you want the fixture to have fewer larger chips instead of hundreds of tiny chips. The small chips even if high in number will not penetrate the plant canopy well.

I would make all efforts to grow in a greenhouse. Your efforts will be highly rewarded. Indoor growing past baby green stage is difficult and a money pit. The principal input to form carbohydrates and proteins in plants is photon's. Outdoors even in winter on a cloudy day you get thousands of dollars of them for free. Heat is much cheaper than light. For us we spend 300 a month on heat and about 1000 a month on supplemental lighting.

In the kratky tanks we have grown all manner of greens and herbs, most everything does well. you will need to research the different nutrient requirements for different plants (Cornell and University of Florida are the best sources) , some things will not thrive in a lettuce formula. For instance Basil it needs additional Epson salt. But for the most part it will work well enough.
 
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Border Collie Dad

Veteran Member
Thanks for all those details, Stan.

I have some broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seedlings that will soon need to go somewhere and not sure if I have enough time for them to produce outdoors.
maybe I could get them in a Kratky tank in the greenhouse to give me enough extension for them to finish?
Sort of solves the lighting problem, too.

I may take a stab at this on Wednesday when I have a helper
 
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