Kratky Method


Hydroponics may provide the answer, and Kratky Method Hydroponics is the simplest way to start. 

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, in nutrient rich water. 

Hydroponics have been around since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which was built around 600 B.C.  Modern hydroponics made significant advancements about 100 years ago at UC Berkeley when Dr. William Gericke grew 25 ft tall tomato plants without soil.  One of the people who studied Dr. Gericke's work was Bernard Kratky who went on to receive his Masters and Ph. D. in Horticulture from Purdue University.

The key concept about the Kratky Method is it is one of the few passive hydroponic methods.  This means no electricity is used to pump air or water.  This graphic shows the separation between passive and active hydroponics.  


Notice the similarity between Kratky and Deep Water Culture.  Dr. Kratky understood DWC but wanted to explore the possibility of growing without pumps.  His method allows people to grow plants around the world in developed and developing countries alike.  Plants grown this way are not dependent on the electrical supply nor will they die when a pump fails.  While plants grown in DWC may grow faster or larger,  it is a mistake to assume DWC is an improvement on Kratky.  Independence from a power supply is what gives the Kratky method its own advantage.   

One discovery that Dr. Kratky and others made was how plants create "air roots" in this system.  For optimum success with this method, it is important to understand air roots.

![[Media/Images/kratky-images-6_orig.jpg]] ## Air roots


Notice the fine, white roots just below the cup.  These are "air roots" and they develop in the moist air space above the nutrient water.  This is a special adaptation that plants make to absorb oxygen from the air while the water roots below the air roots absorb the nutrient water.   You may know that plants absorb carbon dioxide?  They do that through the leaves while oxygen is absorbed through the roots.  The discovery of this adaptability of plants was revolutionary and critical for the success of this method since air pumps are not used.   These air roots are fragile and should never be submersed. Even splashing them with water can stress the plant.  They can also be damaged if not kept in a moist environment.