Monday, May 19, 2014

Gardening - First attempt into DWC (Deep Water Culture) Hydroponic

This method DWC, is best for plants that love water and to stay wet.  Most plants I've seen tend to get root rot or "drown" if they get too much water.  However, Lettuce plants are different and a "It's a little known fact Lettuce is made up mostly of water"
.  As such I suppose it would make sense that these roots love to quite literally be suspended in water all the time as they grow.
Again using what I could find in the garage of wood scraps, paint and a piece of house foam insulation I built a trellis type structure to hold my Lettuce Rafts.  What I did purchase was a $10 air pump and a Macro\Micro nutrient powder that I'll self mix and that's it.  I could do without the air pump and then this system would have just been a Kratkey method which I've also done but will save for another post.  For now this is my time comparison of the DWC.
Each of these rafts is about 3'W x 1 1/2" D 12"H and holds about 12 Gallons of water.  I using store bough Epsom salts to make up the Magnesium Sulfate percentage, I then mixed that with Calcium Nitrate and a Tomato blend of the Micro Nutrients.  All this was dissolved and mixed into my lettuce pool.  The foam has 3" Net cups sitting in each hole with some lava rock or rock wool to hold the seedling in netcup.
The air pump sits below with 1/4" surgical type tubing running into each pool; the ends of the air tubing is covered with a small pile of Lava Rock which helps create more and smaller bubbles.  Even though roots are sitting in water they still need to breath Oxygen.  The air bubbles (smaller is better... but that's NOT what she said) introduce O into the water.

2" foam raft (house insulation) to float on reservoir of water

Two lettuce pools sitting on new trellis.  Upper trellis will later hold an NFT setup
No Soil, No how, No where.  I tried growing lettuce in the ground a few years ago and it was miserable.  Nothing grew and snails took it all like a bad poker game.  Here are my comparison picks of the DWC with a few different types of Black Leaf lettuce.
This was first week.  You can barely notice seedling sitting in each cup

About three weeks later and a huge difference.  Others doing this have gotten faster results but I had to change out the water due to algae buildup, but the important thing is that it's still growing... and this is my first ever attempt at Hydro and making a nutrient mix
3 Weeks Later - Yummy!

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