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 Deep Water Culture Basics - Bubbleponics

Discussion in 'Hydroponic & Irrigation-based Discussion' started by Mañ'O'Green, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. Mañ'O'Green

    Mañ'O'Green Retired to watch the grass grow. CannaZone Product Tester (Tier 1)

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    Sharing some things I have learned doing Deep Water Culture with cannabis.

    Technically what I use is called “Bubbleponics”. First your environmental needs must be met - light, temperature, humidity and air movement all need to be in range for plants to grow well. I will assume you understand these basic concepts. The rules for a good DWC are simple but not very forgiving. Plants respond adversely quickly to something out of range. The good thing is that they will also respond well to a correction quickly. DWC is an everyday task; in fact checking your plants many times a day can keep you ahead of needs.

    Two tools that you cannot do without are a good PH meter and a TDS meter; both should be equipped with a temperature gauge as well. Maintain them and replace them on the vendor’s schedule.

    The five basic components:

    1. Water. You could spend a lifetime trying to learn about water for plant growth but let’s keep it simple. Most people can use their tap water as long as the beginning PPM is 200 or less. If your water goes over this you will need to mix it with distilled or Reverse Osmosis water to get it below 200 PPM. Use a float valve and top off bucket to keep the water level in your reservoir consistent even small fluctuations can cause stress. Set the water level 1” – ½” below the bottom of your net pot. Aerate your water for a day or two before you intend to use it. This will help precipitate calcium carbonate out of the water and make it easier to control your PH. I just use my top off tank for this. The perfect reservoir water temperature is 68°F. This is the temperature that water holds the most dissolved oxygen. Do not use copper, brass or aluminum anywhere in your system; not even the tiniest fitting.

    2. Air. Roots need air. An aquarium air pump and air stones provide this critical component. I always use two pump/stone combos for redundancy. Losing aeration even for a short period can be problematic. The smaller the bubbles are coming out of the stones the better. I use a UPS battery back-up on my air pumps. The volume of airflow needs to be high enough to saturate the roots but not be so violent that the roots are damaged. Smaller bubbles allow more airflow with less violence.

    3. Nutrients. Just make this a no brainer. Unless you have a lab and the skills to use it; choose ONE nutrient vendor whose products are built from the ground up for cannabis hydroponics and use their entire line. Do not mix and match. Vendors spend millions of dollars and years developing their products to work with each other. Take advantage of that. Follow their feeding schedule. Change the water/nutrient solution every week – without fail. Learn about Liebig’s law of the Minimum to understand why you are doing this. Look at the Liebig’s Barrel to visualize what we are talking about here. DO NOT MIX NUTRENTS INTO THE RESERVOIR; mix them in a separate container using water that has been aerated for a day or two following vendor instructions the day before the reservoir refresh. Doing this ahead of time will make it much easier to get the PH balanced and stable. A suction pump will be worth its weight in gold to help evacuate the reservoir for a refresh. Many product lines can and should be used at 50% of the vendor’s chart strengths in DWC but not all of them. Do a little research on your chosen brand.

    4. PH. PH has absolutely everything to do with the uptake of nutrients into the plant. Let it range from 5.7 to 6.2 in DWC. This will allow the different components to move through the best uptake zones for that nutrient. Check the PH every day even multiple times per day is better. Roots not only take water and nutrients in they also exude substances that can dramatically change the PH in the reservoir in a very short period of time. I am talking hours here not days. Mix PH buffers into some water before adding to the reservoir to prevent burning the roots. Make small changes at a time. One full point is too much (5.2 to 6.2). It takes practice and vigilance to maintain PH in the proper range. PH problems have caused me more issues than all of the other environmental factors combined. The minute you take your eye off this it will bite your plants in the ass!

    5. Botanicare HydroGuard. The only additive outside of your chosen nutrient regime I recommend. It is a must have. I would not even buy a bucket before I had this in stock. Root Rot is totally preventable with this. I live where it is not possible to maintain the reservoir temperature below 78°F in the summertime and it has gone as high as 82°F. The ability for water to keep oxygen saturation at that high of a temperature is minimized. Think stagnant pond! I have grown great plants totally root rot free using HydroGuard under these conditions. High temperatures are not the only thing that can cause root problems. Botanicare HydroGuard is a basic component to DWC. I am not affiliated with or compensated in any way for this endorsement by anyone except my happy plants with huge colas.

    I have tried several ways to get a plant started. Top feeding seeds planted in small rock wool cubes or Park’s Bio Dome sponges supported in the net pot by PH balanced clay pebbles until the roots get down into the reservoir a couple of inches has worked best for me. Then stop top feeding to prevent crown rot.

    So there you have it. Now 10,000 people will take issue with something I have laid out here and I may agree with many of them. I have moved on to growing hydroponically in rock wool cubes because it solves my oxygenation problems associated with high summer reservoir temperatures. I am telling you now that if I did not have heat issues in the summer I would still be growing DWC!
     
  2. Simplicio

    Simplicio Smoke Cannabis Live with Friends on AFN

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    I agree with everything you say, except for a couple of things.
    First, top feed adds needless complexity to a dwc system. Hand watering a couple of times a day for a week or so eliminates the need, and has less chance of splashing nutes on plants.
    Second, planting seeds directly into Rapid Rooters works very well. No need for paper towels, or anything else.
     
  3. Mañ'O'Green

    Mañ'O'Green Retired to watch the grass grow. CannaZone Product Tester (Tier 1)

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    Yep that works also. Just don't forget to water regularly like I have.
    I scold people until I am blue in the face for using the paper towel method - they just do not listen!
    Here is a really cool top feed system that does not splash:

    DSC00377.JPG

    1 down 9,999 to go :rofl:
     
  4. Boradan

    Boradan We don't need no stinking Badges!

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    Excellent guide.
    I would like to add one more thing to the chemical lineup - a line cleaner.
    I ran into blocked feed pipes 8 weeks into my first grow due to forgetting to use mine.
    I use this: https://www.hydroculture.co.uk/ata-clean
    Once I added it, I got ZERO gunk in my pipes.

    9,999 9,998
     
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  5. Mañ'O'Green

    Mañ'O'Green Retired to watch the grass grow. CannaZone Product Tester (Tier 1)

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    Boradan:
    In my method the top feed (the only thing with lines) is removed around day 10 so there are no lines to clog. Plants are moved to separate reservoirs. No plumbing between reservoirs. Just simple DWC Bubbleponics from then on. One caveat here is multiple plants in one reservoir will entangle their roots so moving later is an issue.
    DSC00404.JPG
     
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  6. Free Flow

    Free Flow Hydro Junkie

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    Great write up man, very detailed. I grow this way too! And I can say you nailed it on this one. I disagree witha few things you said but its not to say what youre saying is wrong. Just not what I do. For the new hydro enthusiast though this write up will be a god send. Rep slap coming your way bro!

    Can you show me that drip system though or pm me so I can pick your brain about it. I'm tired of hand watering coco and my starter seedlings in my buckets until the roots are established.
     
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  7. Boradan

    Boradan We don't need no stinking Badges!

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    Ah. Fair enough. I was thinking of a multipot RDWC system (because I use one).
    :wall:
     
  8. Mañ'O'Green

    Mañ'O'Green Retired to watch the grass grow. CannaZone Product Tester (Tier 1)

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    Free Flow:

    Simple is always best. A small submersible pump on a timer, 1/4" push to connect fittings, 1/4" tubing and some 90° drip irrigation elbows. You can straighten or bend the tubing by submerging it into boiling water make it the shape you want and run under cold water. It will keep its shape. There are many many types of drip irrigation emitters even leaky hose that could be good options for you. Water flow is limited by the size of the pump and line. If you need more water just go bigger.
     
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  9. Mañ'O'Green

    Mañ'O'Green Retired to watch the grass grow. CannaZone Product Tester (Tier 1)

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    Yeah I tried that but my connecting lines at 3/4" were way to small and got clogged by roots. I tried all manner of adaptations to fix it but just gave up. I think that if you use 2" connecting pipes and circulate out of the top RDWC can work ok.

    3 down and 9997 to go :haha:
     
  10. Rifleman

    Rifleman Unemployable Pothead

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    Good write up.

    After years of side by side testing, and always looking for what works for me(a simple home grower who smokes an oz a week), and is the simplest, cheapest, and most effective. I've come up with a couple of things I'd add.

    1. In addition to Hydroguard, Flying Skull's additive Z7 is a must. It's worth it just for how much cleaner my buckets are staying and I only use 2ml in each bucket on weekly water change days. When my season begins again next Sept I am going to run buckets with just the Z7 to see if I can do away with the Hydroguard. I've heard of people doing this successfully and if it works that's more $$ in my pocket.

    2. Chasing pH is a PITA. Especially in 5 gallon buckets when your actual nutrient solution volume is more like 4 gallons. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more for Advanced Nutrients pH Perfect 3 part, and never bother with checking pH again.

    Regarding the pH Perfect......I tested this many times, even went 18 months without a pH pen. It works. And it works at much lower dosage than they recommend. I average 5oz per plant in 90 days and never use more than 21ml/4gal. AN says to use 60ml/4gal. :haha: At lower dosages using tap water the pH going into the reservoir will be between 6.1 and 6.3 No worries, the chelation factor still allows for proper uptake. HOWEVER...for this to work like that, I always adjust my top off water to a pH of 6.0 , and change my reservoir every 7 days or sooner. If a plant has used 14-16qts since the last water change and the week isn't up yet...change the water! Don't wait for the regular day. This is where note taking is important.:jump:

    That's my $0.02 :shooty:

    DWC can be a very easy way to grow huge harvests . Just don't over think it. :growing:
     
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