Building Your First DIY Deep Water Culture Bin

DIY Deep Water Culture

For those of you interested in hydroponics you may know what deep water culture is. For those not familiar it is a form of growing plants I will explain it to you. In deep water culture the plants are grown in pots that are where the roots are submerged in a nutrient solution. Because the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution 24/7, air/oxygen is needed to prevent rotting issues.

There are a couple of ways to do this. The way I am pumping are in is with an air pump. Water falling into the reservoir will also capture oxygen in the water. In my personal opinion I would invest in an air pump for a basic DIY set up. It is important to change water out every 10-14 days or so. Make sure also to have the air pump running 24/7. Now that we have deep water culture defined, lets go through the process for making your own.

DIY Deep Water Culture Needs List:

  • Water reservoir or bin
  • Growing Solution
  • Inert Growing Media
  • Hole boring drill bit
  • Drill
  • Air pump
  • Air lines
  • Air stone or ring
  • Clean Water
  • Net pots
  • Seedlings
  • Light Source: sun or grow light

This is a needs list for your setup. You can get these at a hydroponics store. Some parts of this list you could get from a local hardware store. You can get it all on Amazon via the affiliate links I am placing at the end the article and support us and get every thing your need :). I will have a link for almost everything below except for the water and seedlings. I also would recommend getting the drill bit and drill at the store unless you know all of the sizes you need.

Step 1: Select a Reservoir or Bin

The first thing you need to do is to select a reservoir or bin that fits you needs. In my case I selected a 27 gallon tote from Home Depot. Below is a picture of the tote with the pots I am using for my deep water culture set up. One thing to note, I used regular pots I had and put holes into them. I would suggest getting net pots instead. The pots I am using are because I already had them I wasn’t using them. I also want to see how they work instead of net pots.

Tote: diy deep water culture

Step 2: Putting Holes into the Bin Lid

The next step is to put holes into the lid. For this I outlined the pots above to get a rough idea of where I want place each pot. Then the best thing to do is to have hole boring bit for a drill. It is a lot easier to use and gives you a great circle. I assume you could use a knife but it would be much harder. When buying the hole boring bit you need to make sure that it isn’t wider than the lip of the pots you are using. This may seem obvious but I almost made the mistake of having them top of the pot and the hole boring bit diameter be the same. The issue would have been that the pots would fall into the bin

The one I used was a 6 inch diameter and the pots I am using are about 6.5 inches in diameter at the opening. The bottoms of the pots are roughly 5.5 to 5.75 inches in diameter. After that I created the holes in the bin, I drilled holes in the pot. This is again because I wanted to use pots I wasn’t using. Finally make one small hole that is big enough for the air pump tubing.

diy deep water culture step 2
Step 2: Holes cut into bin lid
diy deep water culture
Step 2: Pot with holes drilled into it
Step 2: Milwaukee 6 in hole boring bit. 

Step 3:  Washing the Inert Media and Filling the Pots

Once you have the holes created in the lid of the you are ready to wash the media. One thing you need to do is have an inert media to hold your plants. Inert meaning in this case that it doesn’t interact chemically with your growing solution more about that in another post. Make sure that you wash off any dust particles if your media so that you do not get that into your growing solution .After you have washed your media go ahead and fill your net pots with the media. Make sure that it you have enough media to securely hold your plants.

Step 4: Fill the Reservoir or Bin with Water

Fill your bin or water reservoir. Make sure not to mix in any growing solution until you have either allowed it to off gas chlorine for a day or you have managed the chlorine another. Make sure before adding the water you place the bin where you want it to sit. Water is really heavy and you don’t want to have to carry it! Once the water allowed to off gas or has had the chlorine reduced another way you can add the growing solution.

I am using Botanicare Grow for my plants to start. This is a vegetative growing medium. I will switch to the Botanicare Bloom when it is time for flowering and fruit creation. I am growing Carolina Reapers in my setup. One other important side note is that you need to consider water displacement from the growing media/pots. As an example I have a 27 gallon tote and only filled it up to 15 gallons of water. This seemed to work out well for me. I have 6 pots and they are 2.9 qts. They also have calico stones in them. So make sure consider the impact of what you are putting in the holes!
deep water culture bin
Deep water culture bin with water degassing

Step 5: Setting up the Air pump

Since you need air pumped in the solution in deep water culture, it is a good idea to get the pump set up before getting your seedlings in the pots. Your pump should have at least one or multiple couple of nozzles. That is where the air lines are connected. Make sure to have the right sized airline for your pump. Normally it is around 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch.

Make sure you have an air stone(s) or air ring. That will distribute the bubbles from the air line. Finally make sure the lines are the right length for where you are placing the pump so the air stones can sit on the bottom. Place the pump and plug it in and you can turn it on when you have your plants in place.
carolina reaper seedling

Step 6:Transferring Your Seedlings

Now for the most important part of your new deep water culture setup, the plants! There are varied methods of seed starting but one this is true no matter what… be gentle with the seedlings. If you grew them in a decompose-able media like I did(coco coir) make sure to gently get that off of them.

Then gently place in a pot and surround the seedling so it is supported. I would advise placing your pot in the bin first so you can see where to get your roots to. You made need to remove media if your seedlings are small so that their roots are submerged in the growing solution. Repeat that step until you have all of your pots completed in and in place. Make sure your air pump is on and you are done! You have your first deep water culture setup!
Carolina Reaper Seedling ready to be transferred!

Conclusion

You are ready to start doing deep water culture! Just following these steps and you will be rocking. Make sure to periodically check your pH of your growing solution to make sure it is in the right range. Make sure to change the water/solution every 10-14 days and top off the water within that time when needed. I would also mark the plants if there are more than one so you can track each plants progress! I am excited for you to get started growing with deep water culture!
DIY Deep Water Culture
My first deep water culture setup

DIY Deep Water Culture Needs List:


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