By: HTG Supply West Springfield on 10/06/2017
Strap in, this one’s more of a tutorial instead of an editorial!
I use a sort of RDWC system that is basically a hybrid of 3 different types of hydroponic watering systems. I like the ebb and flow system, the DWC system, and the drip system. I really like the DWC watering method because you have the plant submerged in a nutrient solution of water all the time while continually aerating the water with the essential oxygen that the plants need to flourish during the growing process. Without the constant aeration, roots will ‘drown’, so to speak, and the plant(s) will die. I also like the idea of the ebb and flow system as well. I was impressed by the way ebb and flow systems worked – filling only a few times a day and then staying empty for most of the day, which makes direct aeration of the site bucket unnecessary. However, with that being said, I didn’t like the fact that the buckets didn’t drain completely. I wanted to come up with a system that gave you the best of both worlds. So I took the ten gallon Slucket with the 8″ Slucket net pot lid and some ¾” barbed elbows, and went to work.
I came up with adding the drip system to allow me to get the plants from seedlings in the propagator to the vegetative stage faster. This knocks a week or two off the vegetative stage and allows for more harvests per calendar year, instead of waiting for a larger root system to transfer into the hydroponic system. I chose the Slucket because of the 10-gallon capacity and the ability to completely drain it. I use a 4” O2 disc to aerate the Slucket.
I used the 4” O2 disc because it worked perfectly for what I needed – something to cover the hole to allow for proper drainage and to prevent it from clogging with roots and growing medium. They work great because they have suction cups on them that hold the stone off the bottom just enough to allow for smooth drain-and-fill without the clogging hassles we’ve all run into in the past. So, to make this all make sense, I had to come up with a fill-and-drain system that was suitable to what I envisioned in my head.
That said, ebb and flow systems stay drained for the most part and only feed 3 to 4 times a day, where a DWC system is constantly full and is aerating at all times. I put the system on a feeding schedule that keeps the buckets full for 40-45 minutes per hour and I circulate the water out for 15 minutes per hour, keeping the Sluckets totally empty for 10-15 minutes per hour depending on your pumps. While the Slucket’s empty, I have a drip system set up to drip right over the plant while the bucket empties, which feeds the plants during this period and in turn produces a larger root mass in the 8” net pot lid, with clay pebbles as a medium.
I get a massive root system in the Slucket itself as well. This maximizes all available areas in the bucket to produce a greater root zone. We all know better roots = better fruits, right? I found that by doing this, it allows me to transplant my seedlings into my hydroponic system more quickly, giving me more harvests per calendar year, and I use the drip system throughout the whole life cycle of the plant. I found that I get larger yields running my system this way.
Just sharing the love for gardening and spreading the knowledge of what I find, because that’s how we do it here at HTG.
Good luck and Happy Growing!