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Growing tomatoes using Kratky method

#1 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 11:56 AM

Here's a pictorial on how I will start a Brandywine platfood strain yellow tomato using Kratky method.
Thanks Janegoaty for the seeds.

These are the materials you will need.

Pots and medium
1. 4inch Net Pot (World Farm $0.50)
2. Chinese New Year container (Free)
3. Clayballs ($5.0 for German leca, world farm)
4. Aquarium wool to sow seeds ($2.5 for 5 pieces, any aquarium shop)
5. Some thick brochure or magazine paper and scotch tape.

Fertiliser and trace minerals
6. Balanced NPK Fertiliser (Polyfert 500gram 21-21-21, $4.5 from World Farm)
7. Trace minerals (Seachem Flourish, $13 for 500ml, Y618 aquarium in Khatid)
8. Epsom salt (Guardian pharmacy, optional)
Alternatively, you can use Lushgro A + B solution for hydroponics. It is much easier, but you cannot control the concentration of the nutrient solution.


Sowing tomato seeds
Step 1: Place tomato seed on top of a tiny aquarium wool. Soak it with tap water and place it in tray container filled some water.
Viable seeds should sprout in less than 1 week.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0977_zpstemkf4uw.jpg

Prepare to transplant in net pot.
Step 2. Fill 1/4 of net pot with clay balls.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0979_zps7wsf81ci.jpg

Step 3: Place seedling with wool in net pot
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0980_zpsss8tymip.jpg

Step 4: Fill up with more clay ball until it reaches the aquarium wool level.
Seedling should be near half way mark of net pot. You can top up with more clay balls when seedling has grown bigger, and the lower stem will develop roots .
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0981_zpstwpgjhbz.jpg

Step 5: Place net pot in fitting CNY Container. Usually, the net pot are the same size as the CNY container opening, so no cutting is required.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0982_zpsbqp2hd9b.jpg

Preparing Nutrient solution:
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0972_zpsecag3xr4.jpg

Step 6: Prepare 2 litres of tap water in a large container.

Step 7: 1/3 TEASPOON of NPK 21-21-21 into container
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0973_zpstkgdyiqy.jpg

Step 7: 1 drop of Seachem Flourish into container
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0974_zpselhzrixf.jpg

Step 8: Few grains of epsom salt into container (Optional)
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0975_zpsz9ofqtu0.jpg

Step 9: Stir nutrient well. I did the measurement of PH and EC meter reading. If you do not have EC meter and PH pen, you can skip this step, but make sure you do no overfertilise. Just use the same amout that I am using, and your PH and EC reading should not deviate too much. When in doubt, just add less.
PH: 6.0, Ec meter: 1.050 ms
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0976_zps0csg5qvt.jpg

This post has been edited by sthh: 18 March 2015 - 11:17 AM

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#2 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 11:59 AM

Step 10: Fill the CNY container till the nutrient solution is touching the base of the aquarium wool.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0983_zpsnamynyof.jpg

Step 11: Prepare a paper sleeve to cover the CNY container, to prevent algae growth.
I am using 2 pieces of thick brochure paper or magazine paper. It is opaque. I like my paper sleeve to be very loose, so that I can slide it out easily to check on the nutrient level and roots.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0985_zpsb40xho97.jpg

Step 12: Leave seedling alone in sunny spot for 2 weeks. (morning sun is recommended, not the harsh afternoon sun)
Do not do anything, do not add water, do not add nutrient, do not touch the plant.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0987_zps6vwsd9zd.jpg

Tomato roots will penetrate the net pot quickly, and will draw up all the water and nutrient it needs to grow. It's a 24/7 buffet of water and nutrient for the young seedling. If there is good light, it should develop flower buds less than 40 days.
Once flower buds are forming, the nutrient solution needs to be changed to a low nitrogen solution.

Here's the roots of a young tomato seedling:
Observation:
Roots should be white.
There should be air pocket between the net pot and the nutrient solution as the water level gets lower. This air is essential for healthy roots. Do not top up water to cover the all the roots. My leca balls are dry.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0988_zpsojxfss2z.jpg

This post has been edited by sthh: 13 March 2015 - 12:27 PM

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#3 User is offline   lazearus 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:05 PM

Ahh I assumed the air gap between the net pot and the reservoir was only needed for chilli plants. I have lowered the water level of my tomatoes to the base of the net pot right after seeing this post.
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#4 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:06 PM

View Postlazearus, on 13 March 2015 - 02:05 PM, said:

Ahh I assumed the air gap between the net pot and the reservoir was only needed for chilli plants. I have lowered the water level of my tomatoes to the base of the net pot right after seeing this post.


If your water level is high, do you still get white roots? Or do you have some roots that rot away? It is always safer to have lower water level. My vilmas only get 1 inch of water, lol.
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#5 User is offline   elsiekoh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:19 PM

View Poststhh, on 13 March 2015 - 02:06 PM, said:

If your water level is high, do you still get white roots? Or do you have some roots that rot away? It is always safer to have lower water level. My vilmas only get 1 inch of water, lol.


woah!! very comprehensive!!!
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#6 User is offline   lazearus 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:20 PM

View Poststhh, on 13 March 2015 - 02:06 PM, said:

If your water level is high, do you still get white roots? Or do you have some roots that rot away? It is always safer to have lower water level. My vilmas only get 1 inch of water, lol.


My roots are all still white thankfully! I posted the photo in my thread. Didn't want to spam your thread with giant photos. I wonder whether your Brandywine will bloom in 30+ days as well.
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#7 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:30 PM

My vilma. Note, only less than 1 inch of nutrient solution.
Plant is desperate, growing large root mass to drink more water at the bottom.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0989_zpsc8dm0kis.jpg

http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0991_zps6dnkdnyh.jpg
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#8 User is offline   lazearus 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:47 PM

Are those brownish roots air roots?
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#9 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:49 PM

View Postlazearus, on 13 March 2015 - 02:47 PM, said:

Are those brownish roots air roots?


They are white. Those brown stuff are some weird residues.
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#10 User is offline   elsiekoh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 02:59 PM

View Poststhh, on 13 March 2015 - 02:30 PM, said:

My vilma. Note, only less than 1 inch of nutrient solution.
Plant is desperate, growing large root mass to drink more water at the bottom.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0989_zpsc8dm0kis.jpg

http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH0991_zps6dnkdnyh.jpg


I always worry that the thin roots support the huge mass of root will snap... esp when I keep lifting up the plant to top up water.. :P/> here's mine! full of roots.. I top up the water daily now.. do you think I should attempt to shift the entire thing into a bigger container?
http://i1297.photobucket.com/albums/ag22/elsie40/Mobile%20Uploads/CYMERA_20150313_145317_zpsbstho8dq.jpg
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#11 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 03:08 PM

Beautiful roots. Don't fix anything that is not broken, so don't shift. Your vilma is fruiting now, so a bit more food and extra epsom salt will make it taste better.

Actually, why do you need to lift up the net pot to top up water? I just pour nutrient solution down the net pot without lifting it.

This post has been edited by sthh: 13 March 2015 - 03:10 PM

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#12 User is offline   elsiekoh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 03:29 PM

I used to pour in the solution as well.. then over time, the stem of the plant rotted! horrors of all horrors.. I didn't dare to pour the solution in from the top after that and the rotted part slowly dried up.. I dunno if it's due to the high humidity or wat.. but for now, lifting up the net pot to refill the solution seems to work..

http://i1297.photobucket.com/albums/ag22/elsie40/Mobile%20Uploads/CYMERA_20150313_151838_zpsrxckbyzm.jpg
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#13 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 03:32 PM

Eeek.. but your vilma made a nice recovery. I pour nutrient down the net pot from a corner, not to the central stem.
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#14 User is offline   elsiekoh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 04:45 PM

View Poststhh, on 13 March 2015 - 03:32 PM, said:

Eeek.. but your vilma made a nice recovery. I pour nutrient down the net pot from a corner, not to the central stem.


I oso did the same... dunno y also...
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#15 User is offline   janegoaty 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 06:14 PM

This is awesome. Oh you're right it doesn't look too hard at all. At first I thought it would be better to try and find those black containers like the GNC protein shake bottles. But now I see that it would be impossible to monitor the solution properly. Chinese new year container it is then. Thanks for posting the details sthh!
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#16 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 07:03 PM

View Postjanegoaty, on 13 March 2015 - 06:14 PM, said:

This is awesome. Oh you're right it doesn't look too hard at all. At first I thought it would be better to try and find those black containers like the GNC protein shake bottles. But now I see that it would be impossible to monitor the solution properly. Chinese new year container it is then. Thanks for posting the details sthh!


Hope you find the pictorial useful, and will start a hydroponic setup soon.
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#17 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 10:16 AM

Here's an update.
Brandywine: 5 days old.
Made a mistake of placing the pot in a shady position, it grew leggy seeking the sun, but it grew, and will likely survive.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH1013_zpsxqdovkwn.jpg

Chocolate striped tomato: 24 days old.
Upgraded the seedling to it's own container, and now it also have a larger net pot.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH1012_zpszjed4icw.jpg
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#18 User is offline   sthh 

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 03:02 PM

Dwarf yellow tomatoes: 56 days old.
These are 4 plants I did not cull, but left in a tiny spaghetti container to grow. Surprisingly, they all grew and flowered. A tiny pot can still support 4 tomato plants. Only disadvantage is I have to monitor the water level very often.
http://i498.photobucket.com/albums/rr346/trelch/STHH1021_zpsyd6kxmtt.jpg
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