Hydroponic gardening is a wonderful way to be able to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables indoors and away from the elements that can harm them. Using water and nutrient supplements can also make those same plants grow quicker and yield better results. Deep water culture is one method of hydroponic gardening.
If you are familiar with gardening, then you have most likely heard about hydroponics. In hydroponics, liquid replaces the soil, usually water packed with additional nutrients to help make your plants grow stronger and faster than conventional gardening. In fact, in most cases, plants can grow up to 22% faster using hydroponics than soil. One of the great things about hydroponics is the fact that it can be done year-round since it can take place inside. As long as you either have a great spot near natural sunlight, or you’re willing to invest in some grow lights, you can have a beautifully tended and productive garden all year long.
You are correct if you are thinking hydroponic gardening isn’t just the matter of putting seeds in a bucket of water, and away they grow. In fact, it takes in some cases elaborate procedures, and while there aren’t the same difficulties as there may be with traditional gardening, there can be some problems if you don’t have your structure and your nutrients just right.
If you are wondering how you can start your hydroponic garden, there are a few methods that you can utilize. One such way is the deep water culture, or DWC, method. What is this method exactly, and how does one start a hydroponic garden? Below you can find the answers to those questions, plus some more fascinating facts on how to make your garden grow.
Don’t let the name scare you – while it does have a daunting title, deep water culture is actually the easiest method of growing plants hydroponically. As such, it is also the most popular way of growing plants in this fashion. There are some basic principles you should be aware of before we go much further.
First off, the acronym DWC may be used in place of deep water culture.
Second, DWC is a method of growing plants by which the roots receive exposure to an oxygenated solution of water and additional nutrients. The nutrients are administered typically through a droplet and can be bought at any garden store. The mixture is the star of the hydroponic show, and without it, you would be forced to garden out in the yard like savages (just kidding, sort of). There are three crucial factors that you should keep in mind about this solution:
Water is the base for the entire system. The roots are suspended in the water and derive all their nutrients from it.
Nutrients are added to the water in the form of droplets. Some of these are standard and essential nutrients, and then there are specialized ones depending on the kind of plants you’re growing.
Oxygen is a critical component of this entire system. When roots are in the ground, they get their oxygen from the air pockets created in the soil. However, in the water, there is no such thing. The roots sit in the water and suck up all the oxygen. If you aren’t careful, your plants could actually suffocate because they are fully capable of getting all the oxygen out of the water. How do you keep oxygen flowing in water? You add a source of air, such as an air pump or an air stone. These are often in aquariums for the same reason.
There are a couple of reasons why this method of hydroponics is called deep water culture. For starters, think about how the root system is going to be completely submerged in water. The water isn’t just flowing over the top of it or misting it every now and then, like in other hydroponic systems. Instead, the roots are submerged deep in the water.
The second reason it’s called DWC is that a standard system is built with a reserve or reservoir of water. This reserve is beneficial for a few reasons, but mostly because it allows you to have more nutrient-rich water in the vicinity of the roots. There should never be a time when your plants go hungry, due to the deep water reserve. Now that you know the “what,” you should probably learn the “why.”
When you grow a plant in soil, there are a lot of obstacles it must overcome as it develops. Growing in dirt means the roots have to fight for oxygen and nutrients. This fighting expends enormous amounts of energy. If the plant is spending all that energy trying to find oxygen and nutrients in the soil, what is it not doing? It’s not growing very quickly. In a DWC system, there is none of that. Because the nutrients and oxygen are readily available and given over to the roots, the plant can concentrate on growing and not on seeking out the food it needs. This energy savings results in larger yields at a faster rate of growth.
Are you ready to start your own DWC garden? Are you worried about how to do it? Below, find how you can have a hydroponic DWC garden up and running in no time.
There are a few ways you can set up your very first DWC. The simplest way to start is to gather the following supplies:
You can find most, if not all of the above supplies at your local home improvement store. If for some reason you can’t, you can pay a visit to a local nursery or even order some of them off the internet.
Get the Air Flow Into the Bucket
The first step you must take is getting the airflow going in the bucket. To do so, connect the tubing to the air supply or air stone and place the stone inside the bucket. Put the air pump on the ground or somewhere near the bucket.
Fill the Bucket With Water
This step is where you’re going to have to break out your pH kit and nutrients and start figuring out how to get your water to be at the perfect level to successfully feed your plants. The pH test kit and nutrients should give you a chart that tells you what level everything should be at.
Start Your Seeds
Using your growing medium, get your seeds out and going. If you purchased starter cubes, follow the directions for utilizing them. Starter cubes are great because they are like foam in that they will get soft in the water and yet hold the plant in place when the seeds begin to grow. You typically start out by soaking the cubes to get them soft and pliable. After soaking, you place one or two seeds in each cube. The, situate them in an area where they will get the sunlight needed to germinate.
Sink the Roots
Once you start seeing roots from your seeds, it’s time to put your DWC system to the test. Place your starter cube with the roots protruding on the surface of your water system. The roots should be the only things in the water. Once the plants get too large for the starter cubes (if that happens, sometimes it doesn’t) you may need to switch them to another growing medium.The medium is basically a holder for the plants and allows the roots to sink into the water below freely while holding the plant stable up top and allowing it to grow unrestrained. If you have a plant that produces fruit, the fruit will be free to develop in this manner. Checking the best water chiller for hydroponics for your indoor gardening 101 surely helps.
Guess what? You just started your very own hydroponic growing system! You should be proud of this critical first step in becoming a well-versed hydroponic gardener. It isn’t something that will always be easy, but it is gratifying. Think about being able to harvest lettuce and tomatoes a full 30 days earlier than you did when you gardened in the soil. No need to worry about pesticides and their effect on the ground and the plants: With indoor hydroponics, the threat from bugs is very minimal if at all.
The key is maintaining your water and nutrients in the proper ratio. The reservoir in your bucket should be changed out every two to three weeks depending on the type of plants you are growing. You can always consult the directions or ask a friendly neighborhood gardening expert for help if you aren’t sure what to do.
Deep water culture gardening is a rewarding experience. Being able to sustain fresh herbs and vegetables for your family year-round can also save you money in the short and long term. Once you start your system, feel free to expand it and experiment with different types of organic and hydroponic growing. A happy gardener is a productive one, after all.
My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.