Deep Water Culture, The Gateway System
Deep water culture is a form of hydroponics in where the roots of the plant grow directly into the oxygenated nutrient solution. It is often the first system people use to grow plants hydroponically making it what many consider the “Gateway” hydroponic system. I created my out of a 28 gallon heavy duty tote from Home Depot, 8 net pots, some hydroton, and a fish air pump. For this grow I have been Flora Nova Bloom by General Hydroponics as my nutrient with good results. For my Tiny Tim tomatoes I use a ppm ( part per million) of about 650- 800 .I adjust the PH to between 5.7 and 6.2 every other day and after reservoir changes after adding nutrients. The advantages of DWC are the ease of construction and if the power goes out your plants still have access to water and nutrients. The disadvantages I am finding out are the amount and weight of water that needs to be used and lifting the plants to clean the reservoir is a pain. To my system I added several top drip lines and a pump to feed younger plants whose roots have not reached the water yet. The most important thing I have found in DWC is proper oxygenation of the water is the key to healthy roots. Oxygen promotes both root growth through cellular metabolism (meaning your roots need oxygen to process energy like we do) and through controlling populations of anaerobic (bad) bacteria. Another Important factor in successful DWC is the management of reservoir temperatures. Anything over 72 degrees and you’re inviting root rot to ruin you hard work. Here are some Pictures of my system.
The one thing I would like to add is gardening isn’t about having a green thumb it is about having fun and learning. The plants want to thrive and will adjust to any environment they can as long as you provide the basics. The future of food is going to be about local produce. Why not get a jump on the future and try planting a seed today.