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hydroponic Starting Hydroponics- Advice Needed

Iv'e come to the conclusion that potting mix just isn't the answer to indoor growing. Growth of my indoor plants in potting mix has become stagnant. I have 4 adult plants that I'd like to get setup in a hydroponics system before the first frost this year. That gives me 2 months. I have a lot of questions.
 
I have been doing research and it looks like I'll be going deep water culture or recirculating deep water culture. I'm leaning towards recirculating, but with just 4 plants, is it really worth it to go this method? That's an extra reservoir, tubing, and a pump. 
 
I made a quick 3D model of the setup I'm considering for the RDWC. My setup will be in a walk in closet that's a bit over 6 feet wide. The buckets will sit on a table. The reservoir with the pump sits on the ground. The water intake pipes are blue and the drainage pipe is shown red. I know this setup is different than a lot of the setups I've seen online, but it would fit well in the area I have. Does it look like it will work? I'm a bit concerned on how high to drill the bottom drain holes in the plant buckets because this seems to be the only variable that will control the water level when running. Except for the last bucket which has the drain hole at the top.
 
Couple random questions; Will it be easy to get mature plants into the net pots? I'm worried about trying to get the roots through. In RDWC does the main reservoir need to be bigger than the plant buckets? I'd like to just use another bucket. Are there any inexpensive low wattage water coolers on the market? I'm worried about throwing the breaker in my grow room because I already have 2 180 watt lights and 2 fans running. 
 
 
 

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I don't think that will work, the resistance pushing to next pot will probably be higher than just overflowing the bucket.
a similar system is undercurrent, the pipe just runs along the bottom, not to the top of next bucket.
current-culture-h2o-under-current_f2d1e1d8-a72e-408c-be6a-06e718ef483f_large.jpg

 
for 4 pots it is probably much easier to just have 4 separate DWC buckets.
or even get 4 autopots.
if you were having problems with soilmix indoors maybe you should see about using coco coir + hydroponic nutrients.
 
 
 

Siv

Extreme Member
I don't have a huge amount of experience but I've had great success this year with a Kratky style setup. It's relatively simple and doesn't require any power to run - no liquid or air pumps required.
 
Kratky.png

 
I have a master reservoir of nutrients connected to a master level bucket with a float valve. The float valve keeps the nute level in the buckets constant. Each bucket has an isolation valve so when I started the plants, the level was much higher and I only opened it to the reservoir once the level (and roots) had grown down enough.
 
I also did a simplified version where there is no master level bucket but that needed me to monitor the reservoir level and top up occasionally.
 
48137656306_66ec5794a4_c.jpg

 
Benefits - simple, cheap and no power. Can be left unattended for a long time - the larger your reservoir, the longer.
Drawbacks - the float valve is a single point of failure. I had mine clog which let the level drop too low. The main driver was heat (so high water consumption) since I'm doing it outdoors and as you're indoors, this should not be such a problem.
 
As for getting your plants into the net pots, you don't need to get all the roots nicely thought - I transplanted some where I just pulled as many roots as I could through the net pot so that some are in the water. That was good enough - more roots will grow.
 
You can see my setup and progress in my glog: http://thehotpepper.com/topic/70997-sivs-2019-first-time-glog/
 
juanitos said:
I don't think that will work, the resistance pushing to next pot will probably be higher than just overflowing the bucket.
a similar system is undercurrent, the pipe just runs along the bottom, not to the top of next bucket.
current-culture-h2o-under-current_f2d1e1d8-a72e-408c-be6a-06e718ef483f_large.jpg

 
for 4 pots it is probably much easier to just have 4 separate DWC buckets.
or even get 4 autopots.
if you were having problems with soilmix indoors maybe you should see about using coco coir + hydroponic nutrients.
 
 
 
Yeah I think 4 separate DWC would probably be much easier. But not as cool! As for the undercurrent setup, how about this?
 
 

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Siv said:
I don't have a huge amount of experience but I've had great success this year with a Kratky style setup. It's relatively simple and doesn't require any power to run - no liquid or air pumps required.
 
attachicon.gif
Kratky.png
 
I have a master reservoir of nutrients connected to a master level bucket with a float valve. The float valve keeps the nute level in the buckets constant. Each bucket has an isolation valve so when I started the plants, the level was much higher and I only opened it to the reservoir once the level (and roots) had grown down enough.
 
I also did a simplified version where there is no master level bucket but that needed me to monitor the reservoir level and top up occasionally.
 
48137656306_66ec5794a4_c.jpg

 
Benefits - simple, cheap and no power. Can be left unattended for a long time - the larger your reservoir, the longer.
Drawbacks - the float valve is a single point of failure. I had mine clog which let the level drop too low. The main driver was heat (so high water consumption) since I'm doing it outdoors and as you're indoors, this should not be such a problem.
 
As for getting your plants into the net pots, you don't need to get all the roots nicely thought - I transplanted some where I just pulled as many roots as I could through the net pot so that some are in the water. That was good enough - more roots will grow.
 
You can see my setup and progress in my glog: http://thehotpepper.com/topic/70997-sivs-2019-first-time-glog/
 
 
Now that is a cool Kratky setup! 
 
stickyfingers111 said:
 
Yeah I think 4 separate DWC would probably be much easier. But not as cool! As for the undercurrent setup, how about this?
 
 
idk if the water pushing down across the buckets is enough pressure to drain from the last bucket before 1st bucket overflows. 
flow rate and pipe size would have some effect
you would have to test it
 
just buy the 5 buckets and pump, if you have to scrap a couple buckets its ok only a few bucks per bucket.
 
you could just not have the res and undercurrent would be like this 
 
purple is the pump
 
wRwtXyA.png

 
you will still want a air pump + 4 stones to each bucket that you don't have pictured?
 
juanitos said:
 
idk if the water pushing down across the buckets is enough pressure to drain from the last bucket before 1st bucket overflows. 
flow rate and pipe size would have some effect
you would have to test it
 
just buy the 5 buckets and pump, if you have to scrap a couple buckets its ok only a few bucks per bucket.
 
I would hope it would equalize fast enough to be able to drain. Bigger pipes in between each bucket will help. Also, i'm going to have a very slow flow rate pump since my system will be less than 25 gallons right? That will also help.
 
juanitos said:
you could just not have the res and undercurrent would be like this 
 
purple is the pump
 
wRwtXyA.png

 
you will still want a air pump + 4 stones to each bucket that you don't have pictured?
 
So it would be an inline pump instead of a submersible? That would be even cleaner looking honestly. I like it. And yeah I will have air stones and an air pump. Just haven't drawn them yet.
 
since it's all circulating shouldn't matter where you mix it in. i imagine it takes a while to stabilize throughout the whole system.
maybe the bucket right before the pump so it will circulate it faster?
 
yeah i think you'd want inline like halfway through the return loop so roots aren't touching the pump. 
 
magdrive ecoplus pumps can be submersed or inline so you could try it both ways.  
 
 
juanitos said:
This ^^^^  <---- Only way to go for RWDC
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If you want to make your own system, use a reservoir that is at least equal in size to the sum capacity of your satellites.  in other words, if you have 5 buckets in line, use a 25 gallon reservoir.
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Your piping needs to be BIG.  No constriction on the pump.  I like to go at least 1.5X the size of the pump outlet.
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You can get the grommets for the plumbing on Amazon.  Get ones that accept 2" for this application.  Like this: https://www.amazon.com/UNISEAL-Flexible-Tank-Adapter-Bulkhead/dp/B00FAF3NLS/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?keywords=uniseal+2"+pvc&qid=1565908996&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr1
 
 
juanitos said:
if you were having problems with soilmix indoors maybe you should see about using coco coir + hydroponic nutrients.
7 parts Coco coir, 2 parts perlite, 1 part worm castings - DTW hydro.  Feed it CNS17 Grow for its entire life.  One of the simplest hydro methods ever, and it grows fantastically well.
 
willard3 said:
If you pump buckets in parallel and not in series, overflow won't be a problem nor will pressure drop.
 
I wouldn't run them in parallel.  I was just approving the concept.  You definitely want to set up a DIY RWDC in a recirculating loop.  It's just simple.  No engineering.  They created that other concept to satisfy a cost constraint, but I'll gladly pay for the extra grommet, and just keep everything going, with no  hydraulic calculations.
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Although, if you look at that illustration, the pump is actually drawing water OUT of the center of the bridge tube, that spans the farthest buckets.  Water is flowing passively out from the reservoir, and the pump puts water INTO the reservoir.  It's a little hard to see, but focus on the red arrows.
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So the illustration isn't actually in parallel.
 
I did 4 plants in individual DWC set-ups last winter for the first time. I started mine from seed not a mature plant. I lost my 3' Scorpion plant (my mistake) early this year due to running out of water, went on vacation and lost 2 more pepper plants due to house sitter mixing nutes wrong, and lost my 4' Reaper plant early spring due to keeping the rockwool starter cube moist for far to long and causing the main stem break off due to rot. I was growing in a 8'x8'x4' tent in my basement under a 250w hps light and a 315w cmh light. After I lost the Reaper I got pissed and shut it down, figured I would give my other seedlings a shot in my outdoor garden and go from there....well my SRP's went gangbusters, my Pumpkin Spice jalapenos meh did ok, and the Buena Mulata's did well but the Reaper, and 7 Pot Butch T not so much so I'm going back to the tent for a 2nd attempt  for my super hot's. This time I want to rig the buckets with a cage for support and a fill hole for nute's  if this fails I'm going to the Ebb&flow or flood and drain method next year and just grow my super's inside due to our shorter growing season here. Anyway after all that babble, solid7 nailed it with having a much larger reservoir, imagine a power outage 4 5gal buckets 1/2 to 3/4 full draining back to 1 5gal bucket. This is an example of a RDWC but needs a larger reservoir. 
 
Pivitol said:
Anyway after all that babble, solid7 nailed it with having a much larger reservoir, imagine a power outage 4 5gal buckets 1/2 to 3/4 full draining back to 1 5gal bucket.
 
In an RWDC, they wouldn't actually do that.  The water level is always in equilibrium. You aren't moving water out of one bucket into another, you're just moving it around inside X number of buckets, which function as a single circuit.  It's literally impossible to overflow an RWDC, if you stay true to the concept, and put all containers at the same level.  The big reservoir is meant to help keep temps stable for longer, as well as provide more oxygen holding volume.
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I also wanted to point out that the RWDC in the illustration has an air pump, with individual stones in each bucket.  That's completely unnecessary.  You can just throw that way.  You really want to agitate the surface of the nutrient solution in the reservoir, and that's all you need to do.  So, a singular "T" union, that drops water out of both sides when it returns to the reservoir, is more than sufficient.  You can play around with ramps and baffles, and things that keep thin layers of nutrient solution in contact with ambient air for longer times.  But the airstone is surplus to requirements, and can be omitted, for cost and simplicity.  Otherwise, we might as well just run a giant reservoir with airstones, and skip the complexity of the pump.
 
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