Starting Small With Kratky Hydroponics | Micro How To Guide

Wanting to experiment with kratky hydroponics, but also being currently space constrained due to starting this years peppers I wanted a solution that took up no more space than any of my other pepper plants currently growing in their dixie cups.  What better way to do that than growing my kratky peppers in a dixie cup as well.  Getting started with these peppers turned out to be pretty easy and was a fun way to get started with this growing method.

A few days in their new environments

Your Container

For your container almost anything that can hold water and can support a plastic net cup and your plant will work.  In the above examples I show a dixie cup and a mason jar.   The mason jar works well as it is the exact diameter for a 3" net cup, but is a transparent container so you will need to find some way to block out light.  On the opposite side the dixie cup is opaque enough to prevent algae growth, but due to the tapered opening it is wider than the net cup so a lid will have to be fashioned that can support your net cup and plant.

With both of our examples both the dixie cup and mason jar will hold approximately 200ml of water when filled up to the net cup bottom.  As the water is consumed by the plant it can be refilled, but water level will need to be compensated downward to keep air roots above water.  These small containers will not support a full sized pepper plant, but getting a seedling started the water will last for many days.

Water level a few days after being transplanted

Feeding Your Pepper

When growing in water the only source of nutrients for your plant will be the fertilizer you add to the water.  There are many brands and options when it comes to fertilizer, with these plants I will be using General Hydroponics 3 part solution using the recommended directions of 5mL each per gallon of water following directions on proper order and any other mixing instructions.

General Hydroponics 3 part fertilizer and pH Up/Down

pH and Nutrient Absorption 

The second part to our hydroponic water solution is to check pH levels.  Keeping our solution in the 6.0-6.5 pH range will allow for optimal nutrient absorption giving us our best chance at a happy healthy pepper plant.  To check the solution pH level you can use digital meters, and chemicals/strips that will change to specific colors to show the pH of the liquid being tested.  The pH Up/Down kit I purchased came with the chemical pH test to the right below, but I also ended up purchasing a digital meter for convenience.

Using a pH Up/Down kit you can then add small quantities of whichever solution you may need to adjust your solutions pH level.  Always make small adjustments and retest, take your time as small quantities can make big pH changes.

pH meter and test solution

Using a syringe or medicine dropper can help with accurate dispensing of your hydroponic fertilizers, and you can pre mix several gallons at a time to avoid mixing up new solution all the time.

Adding Your Pepper Plant

Either using a seed started in a rockwool cube or from a seedling placed in a split open cube we will want our seedlings roots growing through the bottom of your rockwool cube.  We will place this rockwool cube into our net cup and container that has enough solution to touch the bottom of our net cup and our plants roots are in the growing solution.

To prevent algae growth do not expose your water to light, any clear containers should be covered properly to keep your growing solution free of any growth.

A transplanted pepper showing a few air roots after a few days
A transplanted pepper showing a few air roots after a few days

At this point your only job is to monitor water levels. Small seedlings wont consume water too quickly, but as plants grow your growing solution will be consumed quicker and quicker.  Do not let your water levels get too low, when refilling make sure to not overfill and leave exposed air roots above the water level.

Moving Into A Bigger Container

As your plant grows and consumes more and more water and space you can move into a larger container.  Just move your net cup to the new container filled with you growing solution with the same rules as above not to overfill above your plants air roots.