The Kratky method is a simple, off-grid solution to growing plants hydroponically. Until a few years ago, the method was largely unknown. Traditional hydroponic methods include wiring, pumps, tubes, and other relatively complex ideas that scare away new gardeners. The Kratky method eliminates the barrier to entry and allows anyone to get growing!
Pepper plants of all varieties have been grown hydroponically for decades, but it required the implementation of on-the-grid systems like DWC (Deep Water Culture), NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), or similar ideas. Using the Kratky hydroponics method, you can grow peppers right at home with just a few items (some of which you may already have around the house).
Today, we are going to take a look at a few case studies that prove that growing Kratky method peppers is a viable solution. The experiments performed in the video utilize a variety of methods and components, but the results are all the same: healthy growth and a bountiful harvest of peppers!
The Kratky Method Pepper Bucket
In this video, Khang Starr shows viewers how to transplant a pepper seedling into a do-it-yourself Kratky method bucket. The setup is cheap to put together, consisting only of a 5-gallon bucket, a net cup, the pepper plant, and some nutrients. In the video, General Hydroponics nutrients are being used. This is a simple option for those who are new to hydroponics, but Masterblend nutrients are usually recommended as a cheap and effective nutrient solution for the Kratky method.
Khang recommends purchasing pepper seedlings from a nursery to save time and effort. However, if you have the time and forethought, growing your own pepper plants from seeds can save you even more money.
The video shows that pepper plants do not suffer from transplant shock when moved into their new Kratky bucket home. Khang uses a translucent bucket, forcing him to swap out the nutrients every few weeks in order to avoid algae growth. These frequent water changes can be avoided by purchasing an opaque bucket and/or applying a coat of dark spray paint.
From Seed to Harvest
In this video, JimmyB takes us on a Kratky method pepper journey from seed to harvest. He uses rockwool to give his seeds a healthy start, but any other seed starting method can be used (soil, peat, paper towels, etc.). JimmyB uses a staggered growing method, growing the seedlings in small Mason jars before moving them up to 5-gallon buckets.
JimmyB performs a few experiments while growing his Kratky method peppers. For instance, he shows that a mature pepper plant can be cloned by leaving a cutting in a glass of water. A few weeks later, roots are born and the plant is already in full bloom. As an added bonus, he even shows that multiple species of plant can be grown in the same bucket: he houses a pepper plant along with a pea plant!
Kratky Method Peppers vs. DWC Peppers
The Growing Answers channel on Youtube is chock-full of fascinating experiments in the field of hydroponics. In this video, our host compares the growth rate and success of Kratky method peppers to that of a DWC-style setup. DWC (Deep Water Culture) is very similar to the Kratky hydroponics method, but it adds an air stone to help aerate the roots.
After watching a timelapse of the plants growing over a period of a few months, it becomes clear that pepper plants grown in a DWC setup may have faster and more robust growth. That being said, the Kratky method peppers still exhibit excellent growth and produce a successful harvest.
If you are looking for perfection, then adding aeration to your hydroponic system will definitely help. But most people don’t come to the Kratky method for the ‘best’ way of growing—it is more about the magic and wonder of growing plants in the simplest way possible.