Tomatoes, Peppers, Mint – GUEST POST

In this post, I will be sharing some photos from Matt Garver, a gardener who has had great success growing hydroponically using a variety of methods.  His photos are very instructional for anyone looking to get started with growing.  Check out his YouTube channel here.

In this first set of photos, a tomato plant is shown growing inside an office, using an 18-gallon plastic tote.  The tomato variety is Patio Princess from Burpee, which is a great variety for growing inside since the plants stay small (about 2 feet tall).  Imagine how great it would be to impress your co-workers with freshly grown tomatoes all year long!  To see a timeline of the tomato plants’ growth, click here.

2015-03-30 17.27.582015-05-20 17.40.462015-03-30 12.42.23 HDR-2

The next set of photos shows a connected bucket system in a greenhouse.  This system may seem complicated, but it is very simple.  There is a large outdoor reservoir, connected to a smaller ‘control bucket’ which contains a float valve, just like in a toilet tank.  When the fluid level in the control bucket gets low, the float valve opens and fluid flows in from the reservoir.  Using plastic tubing, the control bucket is connected to a series of other ‘grow buckets’ inside the greenhouse.  Since the buckets are connected, the fluid level in the grow buckets is then always kept at the same level as the control bucket.  The beauty of this system is that it requires no electricity, and it is much more convenient than having to monitor the fluid levels in each of the grow buckets individually.  Peppers and tomatoes are shown successfully growing in this system:

Kratky Connected Buckets ReservoirsKratky Bucket Reservoir and FloatKratky Connected BucketsKratky Bucket Tomatoes

Here are a few examples of simple, self-contained Kratky hydroponics.  A Ghost pepper plant grown in a large plastic trash container:

Kratky Ghost PepperKratky Ghost Pepper Roots

Peppermint plant grown in a large plastic trash container:

Kratky PeppermintKratky Peppermint Roots

Lettuce grown in a plastic tote:

Kratky LettuceKratky Lettuce Roots

In the final set of photos, we can see the effects of adding an air pump to the system.  Using an air pump means getting away from the ultra-simple Kratky method, and approaching the more complex Deep Water Culture (DWC) system.  Although electricity is now required, oxygenating the water with an air pump does seem to result in plants that are more productive.  This is in agreement with what Bobby Smith (mhpgardener on YouTube) has described in this video.  These Garden Salsa pepper plants are grown in 5-gallon buckets, with aeration (left) or without aeration (right):

DWC Garden Salsa Hot PepperKratky Bucket Garden Salsa Peppers

Thanks to Matt Garver for supplying these excellent photos of hydroponics in action!