I am an experienced “dirt” grower but after my last grow with the fungus knats, dirt mites and perlite dust all over my house, I decided to try hydroponics. The DWC ROOT SPA bubbler seems perfect for me but I have some questions. Specifically, I have concerns regarding transplanting the seedlings into the bucket baskets. I plan to use rockwool to germinate and early grow then move them to Hygroton in the 8 in bucket basket. I am concerned about the young plants drying out.
Question 1: Should the water level touch the bottom of the Hygroton pellets and will it be wicked up to the rockwool? Question 2: and/or should I irrigate from the top to keep the roots moistened? If so, how often is safe without overwatering?
First off I would recommend you re-think DWC and set up an RDWC system. Several reasons:
Bucket hydro (DWC) will allow only about 3.5 gallons of solution in a 5 gallon bucket. Once plant hits mid flower a plant can easily consume 2 gallons per day. That means your root mass is exposed and requires daily refilling. Kind of takes away from one advantage of doing hydro. Also, expect PH to fluctuate wildly as rez volume changes. Not good for making plants happy.
With an RDWC (Recirculating) system you can introduce a reservoir into the system and place outside the grow space: this helps with temperature management and a large rez, besides lasting longer between fillings, maintains the correct PH longer due to the higher volume of liquid. Plus, and RDWC system will maintain whatever level you require in your buckets (1 1/2 to 2" below net pot)
If you have high ambient temps in your region; plan on buying a chiller.
An alternative to RDWC is to do your grow in a 28 gallon yellow-topped tote. Totes make great ‘buckets’ for hydro.
1 1/2 to 2" below net pot. Air stone directly underneath causes droplets to spray up onto hydroton. If at or above net pot will cause damping off/drowning issues.
Top watering is recommended until roots depend into nutrient solution. I ran on a timer for 30 minutes, 4 times per day. No nutrients until the cotyledons (first leaves) start to die off.
Have you figured out which nutrient line you are going with? I recommend Jack’s 3-2-1 for ease of use, cost and effectiveness. Also; buy good measuring instruments. Especially if doing hydro.
Here’s and example of an RDWC waterfall system for 3 plants: harvested a little over two pounds from those three in 5 months.
Thank you Myfriendis410 for your timely and thorough advice. I didn’t realize how much water they might consume. My question with the reservoir system is how often do the growing buckets need to be cleaned or flushed? If they have to be cleaned or flushed, I would imagine they would have to be done all together at one time - say 4 grow buckets and the reservoir. That’s a lot of work and time at once. I thought that by using individual buckets, I could stagger the cleaning/flushing to 2 buckets at a time on sucessive days.