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The Kratky Method of Hydroponics

Horticulturist B. A. Kratky, working out of the University of Hawaii, has come to be the patron saint of a non-circulating method of hydroponics.

The set up is simple: The roots of a seedling dangle downward into the water, but the water line is lower, allowing for a narrow air space between the bottom of the plant and the reservoir of nutrient enriched water.

This air space allows for part of the root system to "breath" oxygen while developing and reaching down into the nutrient solution.

No air stones or pumps are required, because the system is closed, resulting in trapped moisture in the air space: the air space oxygenates the plant, but keeps the roots moist as they develop and make their way into the solution.

Similar to a lettuce raft, the Kratky method is based on plants suspended over water. One of the main differences is that the 'raft' doesn't float; it's supported so as to hold the plant(s) in place but the raft doesn't touch the solution.

The humidity in the air space seems to be the trick to this method. As the plants draw up the nutrient solution, the air space expands. The water level drops but the humidity in the air space increases. The plant(s) thrive because the roots are in a warm, humid environment that is, basically, filled with nutrients.

The attraction of this method is the absence of peripherals. There's no need for electricity with the Kratky method, because the natural actions of evaporation and transpiration via the root system. The oxygenation process is created within the closed system.

We decided to test this method on a small scale. We planted a bare root strawberry plant using a coffee can with a snap on lid. No air stone. No pump. Just the plant and nutrient enriched water in a coffee can.

We're calling it "Kratky in a Can".

You can follow the progress of this experiment on just az gardens, our blog taking you through a year of multi media gardening.

Article copyrighted: Shelly McRae
Reproduction of all or part by permission only. Contact shelly@justaz.com