“The word hydroponics comes from the roots “hydro”, meaning water, and “ponos”, meaning labor.”
As we enter the world of hydroponics, lets just first see what it all about and why we should seriously take a look at setting up something for our homes.
What if I told you in this day of water restrictions and with Cost of Living going upwards, that you can in fact grow all the plants and veggies your family needs, with less water (about 5% of regular soil requirements)? No soil (yep no soil!), no weeds, no major digging, more creative plant space and utilization, better control over pH and nutrients, saves water as stated above, super interesting and creative, great for family togetherness, great for family learning on healthy living and eating, Livity and compassion for Nature and more!
Let’s have a look at some simple set ups we can all manage at home.
DWC: Deep Water Culture and BUBBLE BUCKETS
In a DWC system, a plant’s roots are suspended in a well-oxygenated solution made up of a mixture of water and organic nutrients inside a reservoir or bucket with an air stone attached.
- Oxygen: Because the roots are submerged in water and not soil (which has macro and micro pores where air resides), the water needs to be well oxygenated, so the plant doesn’t drown, hence an air stone and pump. Another way is to utilize a Venturi in the inlet pump. This pushes water through a narrow area forcing a Bottle Neck situation, pushing the water through more rapidly and simultaneously, via an air inlet valve, creates a vacuum and draws the outside air in along with the water, making for a simple aeration plug in to your irrigation reservoir.
- Water:This is one of the reasons growing hydroponically is so awesome and for those worried about water restrictions – you only use around 5% of the water needed for traditional soil growing during growing and the wastewater, if Organic/Veganic can be used as a foliar spray or drench for you soil pants. Salt based you can not reuse the water each feed cycle/reservoir exchange.
- Organic*/Veganic* Nutrients:A good quality soil contains all the micro and macro nutrients/Life etc that a plant needs to survive and thrive. Because there is no soil only a growing media, we need to supplement the oxygen-rich water with Organic/Veganic nutrients and using the media to act as soil. Impregnating the media with the Microbiology in the fertilizers will increase production and Cation Exchange.
With deep water culture, most of your plant’s root system is constantly submerged in water 24/7 so the need to have highly oxygenated water is paramount to success and for the health of plants. Suburban Farmer does not use H2O2 as a mitigation for unwanted’s as we are relying on Microbiology. I only use it when cleaning my channels and reservoirs when storing and sitting up.
How to set a Bubble Bucket System up:
Firstly you need to source these items:
- 20L/ 5 Gal black bucket and lid
- Air Pump and Stone/Venturi Valve
- Air tubing (4-6mm)
- 140mm net pot
- 13mm 90 degree Elbow fitting and Wiring grommet to suit
- 13mm opaque Rubber tubing
- Growing Media (Oasis Cube/Coco Coir Pod for seedling and into Expanded Clay)
- pH and PPM metre
- Place the net pot upside down on top of the lid, mark out with a marker pen and using a drill and select 130mm hole saw jigsaw, cut out the hole for the net pot to sit in. It should sit flush and snug. Do not use same size (140mm) hole saw, you net cup will fall right through.
- Using the same drill and bit (11.5mm), slowly and carefully, drill a hole in the side of the bucket about an inch from the actual bottom, push the Wiring Grommet into the hole. You may need to slightly bore out the hole to fit the Grommet, being extra careful not to make the hole to big so the Grommet fits but is not tight and therefore not watertight. You want to use the I.D (Internal Diameter) of the grommet and start slightly smaller, working outwards if needed, for a proper seal. Next, grab the 13mm opaque tubing and slide it over the 13mm 90 Degree Elbow, and slip that into the hole with some liquid detergent so it goes in easier and doesn’t damage the hole and Grommet. This is your drainage point and water level indicator. Rotate the tubing so it is vertical along the bucket to view water level and then rotate it horizontal to empty. I use the handle as a holder for it or you can add on a 13mm Saddle Clamp and epoxy/Plastic weld or even Zip tie it, but make sure the holes aren’t too big and are not below the water line.
- Using a smaller drill bit (4-6mm) drill a small hole on the lid. You do not want it more than 4-6mm and to be tight. I use a Top Hat Grommet 4-6mm (depending on what size line I am using).
- Connect the air pump to the 4-6mm tubing, then add the air stone and place the air stone in the bucket, try and centre the stone. Largest Air Stone you can find. Extra Large! If using the Venturi Valve, Air Pump may not be necessary.
- Fill up the bucket with dechlorinated water until it reaches 1cm above the bottom of the net cup, check PPM and pH. Then add Organic* or Veganic* solution to your specific seedling/plants needs and PPM*. Phosphoric Acid to Lower if needed as it is less harmful to the bacteria. Now, onto the seedlings!
- Fill the pots halfway with expanded clay.
- Let the seedling soak for 5 mins in a bucket of distilled water with a dash of seaweed or diluted Organic or Veganic solution. This is for root shock mitigation.
- Using one hand to stabilize the seedling, start to add in the rest of the clay balls until the pot is filled up. Place in the lid gently.
- Once your plants roots start to hit the water, you’ll see a BIG explosion of growth. The plant uses less energy growing roots, so your plants just simply suck up as much water and nutrients as they need and up into the plant.
- Follow training and trellising techniques, fert and reservoir exchange regimes and always keep a Plant Info/Feeding Schedule at hand for every separate crop.
Blessings and Love Ras Mark Suburban Farmer
*Organic and *Veganic Ferilizers available on website. *Plant PPM List available on website. If you would like to know more? Contact Suburban Farmer.