Deep water culture hydroponic systems

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Deep water culture (DWC) hydroponic systems are one of the easiest hydroponic systems for hobby growers. Unlike other hydroponic solutions like Nutrient film hydroponic systems or Aeroponics and fogponics, in the DWC system the plant roots are suspended over a larger and deeper nutrient reservoir.

In commercial DWC systems we have rectangular tanks less than one foot deep filled with a nutrient solution and floating rafts (usually Styrofoam boards) that allow for the roots of the plants to be suspended in a nutrient (fertilizer) solution.

For hobby growers, the Kratky method is probably the most common solution, as it doesn’t require any pumps, aeration and so on. The Kratky Method is a beautiful method of growing plants in a non-circulating hydroponic system. It’s a very simple, yet effective, way to grow plants hydroponically. Great for leafy greens like lettuce, kale, spinach, and a variety of herbs.

Kevin Espiritu from Epic Gardening explains how it works and what you need to make your own Kratky hydroponic system: netpots, bucket, nutrient solution, plants and light.

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What is the easiest DWC hydroponic system?

Hydroponics don’t have to be hard. Basically if you take a plant cutting and place it in a jar with water, you kind of have a hydroponic system. Starting from this basic jar, you can improve your setup step by step. You would probably want a bigger reservoir to grow bigger plants, so the next step would be to get a plastic container (black is better because you should get light to the nutrient solution). Then, a net pot is needed to sustain the plants above the solution, and maybe some growing medium to have better support. Nutrient solution can be bought (use a dedicated hydroponic solution, because the regular gardening fertilizer doesn’t contain all the minerals). You can even do your own nutrient solution.

If you don’t have enough light to grow the plants you should have a look at the best hydroponic lights solutions but you can even start with the regular T5 office lights.

Khang Starr makes a very basic hydroponic setup and shows us the results after 5 weeks:

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You probably asking yourself, what kind of plants can you grow in a hydroponic system and how you don’t get root rot as the roots stay in the water? Well, while you can get root rot, Hoocho has a timelapse that shows that actually roots get oxygen and don’t go bad.

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Jeb Gardener is funny as usual in explaining how the Kratky method works.

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Hydroponic DWC systems advantages

As with the other hydroponic systems, DWC offers a clean controlled environment to grow plants. It uses less water that the soil solutions and you can grow plants anywhere. There are also some specific DWC advantages over other hydroponic systems:

  • easier to control: as the plants reach to a dipper nutrient solution reservoir, the system is less prone to get unbalanced
  • the least complicated hydroponic system: even if you don’t go for the very basic Kratky method, DWC is still less complicated than any other hydroponic system – fewer pumps, pipes and so on

DWC systems disadvantages

  • DWC requires more water than lets say NFT hydroponic system
  • DWC takes more space as is harder to stack systems on the vertical

Viscon Hydroponics shows us a semi automated Deep Water Culture System build on a commercial scale

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