Deep Water Culture System
Deep Water Culture System
Author: Jared Bouck
Est Construction Time: .5 Hr
Required Skill Level: Basic Hand Tool Skills
Every geek gardener loves the idea of simplicity in there apparatus and equipment. The DWC (Deep Water Culture or Direct Water Culture) system is the true embodiment of this desire. In this hydroponic method of growing we achieve our results by means of suspending the plant roots by a net pot in a solution of nutrient rich, oxygenated water. Consisting of the fewest number of parts in any hydroponic system there are very few things that can go wrong and it is a great way to experiment with hydroponics with a very low investment in infrastructure.
For this project we need to have a fluid reservoir to hold our nutrients. We picked these 5 gallon buckets up at our local home improvement store for about 3.00 each. One thing to really be aware of is the color of the bucket you chose. white or transparent buckets that allow for light to penetrate will cause problems for the roots. and ultimately sad roots make a sad plant. Look for a bucket that is dark and doesn’t let any light in. Make sure that you get a lid for it.
A Lid for the Bucket
For this project we will need a lid on our bucket. Pictured here is our bucket with a hole cut in it. it is important that the lid is sturdy and not to flexible. as the surface heats up we don’t want it to warp with the weight of the plant in it. Remember as with the bucket we don’t want light to penetrate and cause problems for the roots. Look for a lid that is dark and doesn’t let any light in.
Here we have a 6″ net pot. We picked these up on eBay for about 1.00 each. You can always go larger with your net pots, but remember it will need more resources to fill it up. Also look for a net pot with a large lip on the top. Pots with a minimal lip can fall in if your lid deforms because you didn’t read the description of the part above this one and just grabbed some crap off the shelf thinking it would be good enough.
Here we have a inexpensive air pump we found at our local big box mart for 10.00. This unit has 2 ports on the front of it allowing us to run 2 buckets at a time or we can supercharge one.
Finally we have our Air Stone. There are a billion shapes sizes and gimmicks out there for bubble stones. We just chose to use the cheap little ones we could find for a dollar a set. There are much nicer Ring bubble stones that are definitely worth looking at.
Step one is to cut the hole in the lid if you haven’t done so already. Seat the net pot in the hole. it should be snug and not move or jiggle around. If you can push a bit on it and have it not pop through your likely in good shape. If it does pop through then you’re an idiot and need to get another lid and try again.
Next we will drill 2 holes near the edge of the lid for the hoses to pass through. Add 2 here in case you want to put in more lines than one in the future.
Here we can see our air lines added with the air stones at the end. These systems are designed to be super simple… Definitely noob friendly.
Here is the system fully assembled. Note that we have placed some check valves inline to make sure the water never travels up line if something bad happened.
Time to make our hydro brew. For the plants I am transplanting into the system I am using 1 TSP per gallon of Fox Farms Grow Big Hydro and 2 TSP per Gallon of Fox Farms Big Bloom To start. You can find there feeding chart here to help manage your plants nutrient needs. Be sure to check the PH of the water.
For our Deep water culture system we want the water level to just be above the bottom of our grow pot.
Our tomato seedling in Rockwool just planted in our system. Make sure the bubbles are working!
Our seedling one week after transplant into our DWC system. it looks very healthy and productive! Its growing at a surprising rate.
We hope you find this tutorial interesting and attainable. Deep water culture systems are by far the most simple hydroponic system you can start with. They provide a lot of room for error compared to other systems as well as very good yields.