The Secret of Non-Circulating Hydroponics


   Non-commercial hydro-beds.
       Building a small system. 

Utilizing the basic concept of "Kratky's Method" for growing in a non-circulating environment, a myriad of alternative systems can be designed and constructed to accommodate a smaller system. 

1) Wood- make a box frame, a) plastic line the insides, b) staple plastic to the  

top, c) cut a styrofoam top with holes for hydro-cups over the box, d) plant hydro-cups with seedlings in a media such as perlite, place in styro-foam top, e) measure correct amount of hydro-fertilizer, add water and fertilizer to the hydro-box, f) place under cover to prevent dilution of fertilizer.

2) Any small container or constructed box could do the job. However too large of a tank wastes water and fertilizer and is not necessary for the success of the growing operation.  Crops requiring more than 30 days to harvest require additional boosts of fertilizer and water.  Accurately calculating fertilizer ratios and maintaining aeration to the top level of plant roots is the key to success. The hole placement outlined is how this commercial operation did it, It's reasonable to say other methods of aerating roots would be just as efficient.

The ability to successfully grow on a commercial or personal level, with limited resources is the major benefit of this method. Alternate growing containers can be easily created.

Capillary roots- under the
​hydro-top of growing lettuce.

Purchasing a pre-mixed  hydro-fertilizer saves valuable time and limits your chance of error, which could be devastating for your crop. Pre-mixed fertilizers have been specifically blended for lettuce, tomato, cucumber and other vegetable crops as well as for the marijuana industry.  Supply stores such as Crop King, Hydro-Gardens, even Verti-Gro sell small or large quantities of hydroponic vegetable  fertilizers. Certain micro-nutrients such as calcium nitrate and magnesium sulfate may need to be added as well.  It is possible however, to mix your own complete fertilizer, saving on shipping costs. These fertilizers are proportionate to the amount of water in your hydro-bed.  

                   Disease Control      

Preventing pests and fungus from ever getting started is the best program a grower can establish.  Monitoring your crop daily, to ensure no pests or fungus are present, or any yellowing of leaves or other nutritional deficiencies are developing is the key to healthy plants and a successful crop.  Preventative spraying during the summer months, alternating safe/bio and chemical free sprays routinely, can keep your crop safe from predators. Contacting a plant analysis lab at the first signs of nutritional deficiencies is also a good way to understand what is going on with your crop.  

                        Crop Selection

​Selecting the type plants or crop you want to grow is the first step to determining what type of hydro-bed you'll want to buy or build.  Fewer plants require a smaller bed.  The spacing on the hydro-top must be determined beforehand so holes can be accurately cut.  Most crops require slightly different spacing. Transplanting soil grown seedlings as soon as roots are able to touch the bottom of hydro-cup is best. As plants grow, larger hydro-pots could be made, placed in a larger hydro-bed system and grown effectively. Fertilizer ratios would need to be exacted.

Fertilizer ratios, disease control and crop selection

What really makes it work?
     The "Kratky Method."

This method of growing  plants successfully in a non-circulating bed of water was originally learned at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, 1994.  Maintaining the integrity of Kratky's theory, a commercial enterprise of hydroponic lettuce was successfully executed, 1997,  proving the validity of this theory on a commercial basis. The importance of the container hole placement was important to its success. Ensuring aeration to the top roots, while enabling capillary roots  sufficient   access to the nutritional solution, was achieved. Alternative crop trials are still necessary to develop fertilizer and container information for successful growing of crops such as marijuana.  Since 1996, non-circulating hydroponics has blossomed, and experimental trials utilizing other materials such as netcups and rockwool cubes, (if done correctly), seem to work as effectively. 
Water levels play an integral part. 
Maintaining a sensible proportion of container to hydro-bed saves fertilizer and allows the maximum amount of plant roots to feed. The hydro-bed doesn't have to be deep, just wide enough and dark enough for good lateral growth. 

Planted hydro-cup 

The Secret of Non-Circulating Hydroponics