Deep Water Culture
Deep Water Culture is a method of hydroponic growing, whereby plants are cultivated without soil, and instead use a solution of water and dissolved nutrients. Plants are grown in an inert growing material, this doesn’t affect the concentration of the nutrient solution and is a base for the root system to anchor.
Deep Water Culture isn't the simplest form of hydroponics, but it's great for beginners who want to try hydroponics with electrical components.
What Is Deep Water Culture?
Deep Water Culture is the non-passive cousin to the Kratky Method, the difference between the two is the use of an airstone to artificially oxygenate the nutrient solution in the Deep Water Culture.
You need a tank holding the nutrient solution, called a reservoir, where the plant’s roots will grow downwards in their search for sustenance. Sitting inside the reservoir needs to be another porous container which will let the oxygenated nutrient solution through to the growing media initially and eventually allow the roots to grow through to continue consuming their desired dinner.
Traditionally, the container sitting inside your reservoir is going to be a shop-bought net pot. You could, however, sit a bucket inside instead and pierce some holes into it, a do-it-yourself net pot, if you will. The size of the net pot is dependent upon the size your plant will reach once it begins to mature. The taller the plant, the wider the base needs to be to support its weight.
Again, make sure the size of the reservoir is suitable for the size of plants you’re growing and factor in how big they’re going to get. The bigger the plant, the more nutrient solution it'll need. You should restrict all light penetrating your reservoir, especially if it's clear such as a glass jar. This way you stop any algal growth colonisation in the nutrient solution.
Plants love oxygen. It doesn’t matter how large your tank is, eventually your plants will suck all the oxygen right out of there. You’ll need an air pump, tubing, and an airstone which will distribute air bubbles throughout the nutrient solution. Pre-made Deep Water Culture reservoirs will have an input hole where the air airstone is installed and connected to the air pump on the outside, but, if you're going it alone, remember to pierce a hole in the reservoir as tight as can be so it doesn't let the nutrient solution escape.
There are many different types of inert material your plants can be planted into. A great example is expanded clay pellets as it’s cheap and reusable.
Three to five seedlings are dropped into a starter cube with growing media placed around the starter cube to support it within a net pot. The net pots are then placed either into holes in the lid or formed the lid itself on top of the reservoir. The root system will grow through the net pot and form a thick, dense mesh.
To begin with, fill the nutrient solution an inch above the bottom of the net pot whilst the roots grow. Once the roots have established themselves, maintain the nutient solution level an inch or two below the bottom of the net pot, you want to leave some of the roots exposed to aid oxygen absorption and prevent root rot.
As you can see, it’s a very simple setup. If you're going down the easier route of pre-made deep water culture buckets, the system doesn’t require any more technical knowledge than plugging in the air pump. It’s a great way to figure out if more complicated hydroponics might be something you’d like to pursue in the future.
Have you seen our other Articles on hydroponics?
The Basics Of Hydroponics | The Kratky Method | Types Of Hydroponics | Deep Water Culture | The Drip System | The Wick System | Lighting In Hydroponics | The Ebb And Flow System | Nutrient Film Technique | Nutrients For Plant Growth | Ventilation For Hydroponics | Growing Media Used In Hydroponics | Hydroponics | The Best Way To Cure Root Rot | How To Choose A Grow Tent | The Best LED Grow Lights | Everything You Need To Know About Nutrient Lockout | The Best Air Pumps For Hydroponics | The Best PH Meters For Hydroponics | What Mom Never Told You About The GH Dual Diaphragm Air Pump |