How to change nutrients on large Kratky systems

This video shows how to change nutrients on large Kratky systems. The same principles apply though, to small Kratky systems. My Bih Jolokia in the 45-gallon trash gan was starting to show some nutrient deficiencies. The solution had dropped down by 2/3 the original volume and pH and dropped to 4.1. I replaced with fresh nutrients keeping the same level as before.

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Using the Sansi LED floodlight for growing a pepper cross

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I’m growing a Malagueta x Khang Starr White Thai under the Sansi LED floodlight. Both the parent plants were grown under this light also. I’ve been using this light for almost a year now. Although it isn’t marketed as a grow light, it actually does a great job for both vegetative growth and fruiting. I’m also using it over two Kratky grown peppers, a ‘pepper in a can’ and some succulent plants. I noticed they have a newer one that is twice the size and power. I might try it out in the near future.

Note: Sansi sent me this light for free to evaluate.

I’ve been giving my office plants a mix of Masterblend 4-18-38, Epsom Salt and Calcium Nitrate. Check out the article I wrote that shows you everything you need for mixing Masterblend nutrients.

The following products were shown or mentioned in the following video.
Sansi LED Floodlight –
Masterblend nutrients –
Air pump –
Air stones –

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Other videos I’ve made on this Sansi LED floodlight:

Sansi LED floodlight test

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Sansi LED floodlight 10-week follow-up

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Sansi LED floodlight update 3

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27 gallon Kratky tote – restricted root experiment

27 gallon tote restricted root setup
27 gallon tote restricted root setup

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I want to see if restricting the root size to a reasonable area will encourage early fruiting, or if the plant will stay in extended veg mode. Last year I grew two plants in a 27-gallon tote, and they took forever to fruit, and the yield, although good, was not great.  There were a lot of green pods on them at the very end of the season when it was turning cold. So eventually they would have produced more.

This year I’m using the same 27-gallon tote, but with one plant, and that is in a 5-gallon bucket insert. The bucket has small holes at the bottom and larger ones at the top (for air flow). The idea is, the roots will mostly be confined to the smaller container, while still having access to all the nutrients in the large tote. Andrew Higgenbottom did a similar experiment but used a much smaller inner container. I’m hoping the 5-gallon size will mitigate the issues he ran into. This isn’t a perfect experiment, as I’m not growing the same kind of plant side by side as a control, but I’m just comparing against what I saw last season. Last year I grew a StarrRacha Bonnet and a KhangSta Red in the same tote , both were in the extended veg mode most of the season. This year, in the root restricted setup, I’m growing what is supposed to be a KhangSta Red but is producing yellow pods. It’s from the same seed stock that Khang sent me, but I think it’s either crossed or just a yellow mutation of KhangSta Red since it’s still a little unstable.

I’m using Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 at just over 1 tsp/gallon, with ppm around 500. The tote has a float valve already installed, and I can hook up a reservoir later when needed to maintain a static nutrient level.

5-gal bucket with holes
5-gal bucket with holes
KhangSta Yellow plant
KhangSta Yellow plant
Bucket inserted into tote
Bucket inserted into tote
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Large 60-gallon Kratky system preview

60-gallon Kratky system
60-gallon Kratky system

I set up two large Kratky hydroponic systems. One is in a 60-gallon pickle barrel, and the other in a 45-gallon trashcan. Here’s a video preview. I’ll post a more in-depth video showing the setup and the all the details of what I used, in about 30 days.

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27-Gallon Float Tote – Dual plant setup and installation guide

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Float valve controlled tote - Dual plant setup

Using a 27-gallon commander tote from Lowes, I set up a Kratky system with a float valve that will maintain the nutrient level after it has dropped. Maintaining a static nutrient level is ideal with Kratky type systems because overfilling will endanger the aeration roots. I learned about using float valves for this purpose from Matt Garver.

The beauty of this setup is it allows you to use a smaller container and finish growing your plant to harvest without worry of overfilling or running out. You can attach any size reservoir, such as a 5-gallon bucket, a 40-gallon trash can or larger.

It is important to periodically flush the growing container and refill with fresh nutrients. This practice eliminates any excess salts that may have built up, causing pH shifts, leading to nutrient lockout. The easy way to do this is to install a shut-off valve between the growing container and reservoir. When ready to flush, simply turn off the flow from the reservoir. and empty the container. You can lower the float and empty back out through that line, or install a separate drain line. Or have someone hold the plants up and turn the container over.

Another benefit of this system is having the option to change the nutrients easily by changing the reservoir. For instance, moving from a grow formula to a bloom formula.

** This system needs to be partially sheltered if outside, like under a porch cover, awning, etc…. Something that will keep rain out. Additional steps would be necessary to waterproof this for full outdoor exposure. It is possible to do, but not covered in this guide.

Parts needed


Reservoir setup

  1. Drill a 5/8″ hole in the bottom of the reservoir container, clean the hole with a sharp knife.
  2. Push a 1/2″ top hat grommet through the hole from the outside.
  3. Push one end of a 1/2″ inch barbed connector into the hole of the top hat grommet from the outside.
  4. Push a piece of 1/2″ vinyl tubing onto the exposed end of the barbed connector.

Growing container setup

Float valve installation
  1. Drill a 3/4″ hole (if using the recommended float valve, check the size first) about 1.5 – 2 inches from the bottom and side of one of the corners. Clean this up with the knife.
  2. Unscrew the locking nut on the float valve and push the threaded part all the way through the container wall from the inside, keeping the rubber washer on the inside touching the container wall. Screw on the locking nut from the outside and tighten with a wrench.
  3. Adjust the float valve arm to the depth you want to maintain and tighten to lock the position in place.
  4. Screw on the 1/2″ barbed adapter to the float valve, from the outside.
  5. Attached 1/2″ vinyl tubing to the barbed connector.
  6. Connect the reservoir and tote together using a shutoff valve with 1/2″ barbed connectors.
  7. Optionally install a separate drain line using the same instructions for the reservoir setup, adding a plug or shutoff valve to the end.
  1. If possible, invert the lid. Some of these style totes allow this, and others don’t. Just turn it upside down and test it. If you can invert it, this will give you a little more headroom. For dual setup, lay two 6-inch net pots upside down and position them evenly, mark the lid with a sharpie.
  2. Turn the net pot lids right side up and place in the circles, as centered as possible, draw around the base with a sharpie. The hole cut needs to be a little larger than the smallest circles. Draw about a half inch around that circle and this is where you need to cut, as a starting point.
  3. Use a sharp utility knife, and carefully cut around, make sure not to cut yourself. Test fit the net pots and adjust the hole size if necessary.
  4. Once the holes are cut, spray the lid with white or black paint, ideally black, then covered over with white. Or you can just cover with aluminum foil.
  1. Add the water. For the reservoir, fill up as much as you want. For the tote, fill mostly with water. Then put the lid and net pots in place,  and finish filling until the water comes up about 1/2 to 1 inch up the bottom of the net pots.
  2. Mix in the nutrients to the required strength. For Dyna-Gro and Flora Nova series, about 1 tsp/gallon is good. Adjust to around 700 ppm. In the video below, I am using Flora Nova Grow.
  3. Stir really well, check the nutrient strength and pH. If necessary, make adjustments.

This guide assumes you have small plants already established with roots at least 4+ inches long.

  1. With the lid and net pots installed, hold the plant in the net pot area with the roots spread and touching the bottom of the net pot.
  2. Fill in around the plant with supporting media, such as clay pebbles or coco chunks.
  3. For a couple weeks or so, check the net pots to make sure the nutrient level is still touching the bottom of the net pots until new roots are established and start growing out of the bottom.

Ongoing care

The nutrient solution will draw down as the plants and roots grow. Once it gets down to where float valve starts letting in the reservoir solution, this is a good time to flush out the growing container.  Turn off the flow from reservoir, empty and flush out the solution in the tote. Turn the reservoir back on and let new solution flow back in.  This should be repeated every few weeks after.


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10 gallon float tote setup

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10-Gallon Float Tote setup
10-Gallon Float Tote

I set up a 10-gallon float valve fed Kratky tote last year growing Holy Basil indoors. I’ve since harvested that Basil and am now using that for growing a large pepper plant. I moved this system outdoors to my porch. The pepper is an unintentional cross, was supposed to originally be a Lightning Mustard Hab, but produced large hot chocolate pods. This plant is from saved seed off the crossed pepper. I’ve been growing it in a small wicking tub, and it is drinking at the rate where I have to add nutrients every day. It was getting Masterblend, Epsom Salt, and Calcium Nitrate, but I switched it to Flora Nova series Grow formula. This was a gift to me from Pepper Donkey.


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Update on float valve feeder design

Holy Basil growing in float valve maintained feeder system
Holy Basil

The float valve feeder design works very well.  This non-circulating hydroponics system as performed as expected. The solution drew down to the point where the float valve released new nutrients from the five-gallon reservoir and has maintained this level. The roots appear very healthy and plants have done great. For a long-term run, it would be prudent to periodically flush the tote and refill with fresh nutrients to the float valve maintained level.


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Reservoir fed, float valve controlled Kratky-like growing system

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Holy Basil in float valve setup
Holy Basil in float value setup
Float valve
Float valve

I set this up recently for growing my Holy Basil that I started in the water bottle, germinating/sprouting chambers.

Most people use a controller bucket between the reservoir and growing containers. This is what contains the float valve to maintain a static level of the nutrient solution.

In my design, I used a 10-gallon shallow tote and installed the float valve on one side of it. I hot-glued a plastic canvas barrier to keep the roots from interfering with the float valve. The hot glue is not holding very well. One of my viewers wisely suggested using silicone instead. So I might redo that at some point.

I filled the tote so the bottoms of the net cups are submerged by about 1/4″. The roots will grow downward and eventually drain the tote until it gets near the bottom. From that point, the float valve will maintain the solution level about 2.5 inches in depth.

Here’s the video. I’ll post updates on the progress.

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Parts used:

Float valve:
Masterblend nutrients:
5-gallon bucket for the reservoir
shallow 10-gallon tote – I got this one from Lowes
Light hanger:
2×2 grow tent:

Orange Manzano in 32 gallon Kratky setup

I setup a Kratky method non-circulation hydroponics container for my Orange Manzano this year. It worked very well for the short time I had it out before season end. I used a 32 gallon trashcan filled with 30 gallons of water. I added 5 ounces (1 tsp/gal) of Dyna-gro 7-9-5. The trashcan lid had a hole cut out for the net pot, which contained the Manzano plant. Video showing setup and results below.

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Office plants, Kratky window garden and AeroGarden

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I’ve been growing two sets of plants in my office.  I have three plants in an old AeroGarden 6 Elite, and three in small containers growing using the Kratky non-circulating method. Both sets of plants are getting Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 at a rate of 1 tsp/gallon. The ppm, I think, comes out to around 500.

Kratky Window Garden

The Kratky grown plants (Tiny Tim tomato, Cinnamon Basil, and Sage) have only been getting light from a Western facing window in my office. They are doing really well in the small  containers. They are feeding quite a bit now, so having to fill more often. The Cinnamon Basil is probably around 24″ high and has been topped twice. The Tiny Tim tomato is between 12″ and 18″ and is producing fruits.  I also have a Sage plant that is about 12″ to 14″ tall.  It was set back a couple weeks ago from running out of nutrients. I pulled off all the dead leaves and it appears to be recovering.


My AeroGarden has another Tiny Tim tomato, a Lime Basil and a Mexican Dwarf Piquin pepper. I topped the tomato last week, and it is now pushing out fruits. The Lime Basil is starting to flower. I’m going to let it go to seed and save those. The Mexican Dwarf Piquin is loaded with peppers. One just started turning ripe. I’ve cut it back two or three times. It’s a very fast grower and super productive.


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