Hydroponic Gardening with Deep Water Culture

by Tyler
(Manchester, UK)

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your website! I spent several hours trawling the net for clear and concise information on hydroponic gardening with only limited success, until I found your site. It's easy to navigate and contains more information than I was able to get from other sources. Now my questions…

I am looking to install some kind of hydroponic system into my small poly tunnel, but I am limited by two factors. First, there will be occasions when I can not go ever day, most days will be fine, but occasionally ill and have to miss a day. Secondly, I have no power or means of getting any there. I was originally considering either a deep water culture or wick system, but from your comments I am edging more towards the deep water system now.



Unfortunately, however, I will not be able to provide any aeration of the water (unless you know of a passive way of doing this). Is there any way in which I could minimize the detrimental effects this may have. For example, if I was to use a deep water culture system with a substrate that promotes better air flow would this help? Thanks, Tyler.

Answer: Tyler- The success of a deep water culture system (DWC) depends on a few things, each contributing to the overall dissolved Oxygen levels in your nutrient solution and the availability of the Oxygen to all of your plants. The first thing is to keep the hydroponic nutrient solution as close to 68-72 degrees as possible. Cool water is capable of holding more dissolved Oxygen than warm water.

So, you will have many more problems with fungus, plant viruses, and roots dying for lack of Oxygen if you let the water get too warm. One solution is to place the nutrient reservoir on a cold cement floor....but this solution only works if you are growing in a basement. Another strategy would be to bury the nutrient reservoir at least partially in the ground, thereby using the natural geothermal cooling of the Earth to keep your nutrient solution from getting too warm. Either way you will want to keep the reservoir in the shade.

With the nutrient solution kept cool, the next thing you can do is to add air bubblers to your hydroponic gardening system. In my response to another visitor, I discuss using DC power as a backup for things like air pumps and small water pumps. These type of systems use low voltage, and can also be used with a small (and therefore relatively affordable) solar panel to keep your 12 volt battery topped up. This would provide just enough power to keep a deep water culture system running without any problems.

The third thing you will need for the success of your system is a small 280-480 GPH water pump. The pump is placed strategically somewhere in the DWC system to ensure the water is constantly circulating. This prevents "dead spots" in your hydroponic system by moving and mixing the nutrient solution to prevent pockets of low Oxygen or low nutrients (as a result of metabolism in and around the roots).

If no power is to be had and a solar/DC power source cannot be put in place, then I recommend using a combination hydroponic system. The deep water culture part of the system would hold the nutrient solution and make nutrients and water available to your plants, but the majority of the roots of your plants can be grown in a number of different types of grow media in containers placed just above the nutrient solution. A good wicking material, like nylon rope, can be coiled evenly through each plant container with enough rope hanging out the bottom of each container to "wick up" nutrient solution to your plants once the containers are in place.

The wick part of the system would provide moisture and nutrients to each container, while allowing them to maintain plenty of Oxygen within the root zone of each container. For media, I recommend using equal parts perilite and vermiculite. Straight perilite might also work very well, and would be more reusable. Using plain vermiculite is not recommended, as it breaks down and compacts over time (making it harder to reuse as a grow media).

This should give you some great ideas of where to start with your hydroponic gardening project Tyler....I hope this helps, and Happy Growing!

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Apr 14, 2014
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"Space Saver" NEW
by: Anonymous

A hydroponic backyard is considered to be a “space saver” garden, because you’re ready to yield a beautiful backyard in simply a third of the area required of an outdoor backyard. Nevertheless to be profitable the max significance has the quality of water used. A water filtered by some filters or water softeners will give more life to the backyard, and a fulfillment to look at a day by day developing eco-friendly corner!

Mar 03, 2011
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Aeration
by: ACS Distance Education

Aeration and plant selection are two of the most critical things if growing plants in deep water.
Almost any plant will grow better if you install something that causes splashing or bubbling of water -That increases the amount of dissolved gasses in the water

Feb 21, 2011
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LED grow lights
by: Daryl

Interesting site here about LED lighting. Several advantages apparently. From a commercial tomato grower in New Hampshire.
http://www.farmingmagazine.com/article-6337.aspx

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Check out all of Jason's recommended items.
Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 22 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.



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Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 20 years and I have only just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole year! I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food production system.

And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients.


High Efficiency
Hydroponics

One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!


Aquaponics

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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.


Produce garnden vegetables AND fish together. Eliminate fertilizer costs!

Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!


High Efficiency
Soil Gardening

This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It's a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It's natural. it's spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.

My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and....only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!


Low effort organic gardening!

Years and years of experience and results can't be argued with....the Food4Wealth gardening strategy is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work....specifically for organic gardeners who love soil gardening. THIS is the most efficient and productive way to do organic gardening, period! And combined with the ability to make a years' worth of colloidal humus compost in just one week (see World's Best Compost), this overall organic soil gardening strategy is just unstoppable- foolproof, low cost, and low effort!

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