quick and easy ways to try your first hydroponic garden
Dutch Buckets for indoor vegetables is a fun and different way to grow vegetables indoors. You can even use your fish tank to make a Dutch bucket aquaponics system.
Hydroponic Dutch buckets are a great for large vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, any kind of squash etc.
These bucket systems are very similar to a traditional drip irrigation system used by most nurseries but with one big difference.
Better for water conservation
Hydroponic systems return the water solution to a tank then it is pumped thru again. This system uses much less water than traditional gardening. The National Park Service has agreed that hydroponics saves lots of water over traditional gardening
With traditional systems the water/nutrients drip into a soil pot. Anything that is not used by the plant is then lost into the ground.
Dutch buckets are far more efficient.
With Dutch bucket or hydroponic drip system all the unused water/nutrients flows from the top of the bucket through the grow media, past the roots then back into the water/nutrient reservoir to then be reused.
This reusing, no waste, aspect is one reason hydroponic growing is becoming so popular with commercial growing. Depending on what research you listen to, hydroponics can use between 40% to 90% less water than traditional growing. That means growing your plants with hydroponics and your water bill will go down!
This is one of the reasons you should use Dutch buckets for indoor vegetables.
The basic design of who these hydroponic systems work, whether commercial or homemade, involve the same principles:
There is a bucket or container filled with a grow media such as lava rocks, perlite or others things. Check out the best growing media here.
Grow media for Dutch buckets
You can grow using just about anything. The important things to remember with the growing medium:
It must have a very low water absorbing rate. You need the water to pass thru quickly.
The media needs to be light and fluffy to allow air to the roots
Water needs to flow thru but not wash away the media so cover the bottom of the bucket with screen.
If you tried this system with soil the water would not flow, the roots would rot and the bucket would likely overflow.
The drip line goes in the top of the buckets. And a drain hole is just off the bottom of the buckets. A standard Dutch bucket is designed to allow a small reservoir of water to remain on the bottom, about an inch.
Drip lines are typically 1/4 inch flex hose. You can find these hoses and connections at any hydroponic store or home improvement store.
The drainage is usually 3/4 inch PVC pipes. They are plumbed to feed the nutrient solution back to the water/ nutrients reservoir .
The water pump
A submersible pump in the water reservoir sends the solution back thru the system. This gives the plants a small stead flow of water/ nutrients.
When using Dutch buckets to grow indoor vegetables you don’t need a huge water reservoir and in most cases a huge pump.
The most important thing the remember when picking a submersible pump is that you know how high you need to pump the water. If the difference in height between the top of the pot and the bottom of the reservoir is 5 feet, make sure your pump lift capacity is at least that.
What are Hydroponic Dutch bucket systems best for?
These are the best systems to grow anything that has a large root system. You can use these systems indoor or outdoor. You can set up a single plant or lots of plants. There are designs the are decorative and systems that are basic plastic.
Dutch bucket systems are very flexible. You can grow most anything most anywhere as long as you can run a simple flex line to and from the plant. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Here is an herb planter that is using the Dutch bucket system.
Pros and Cons and thoughts from practical experience:
Great for growing most anything
easy access to water/ nutrient reservoir makes control simple
can be designed to to fit different sizes spaces
easy to take a plant off line if there is a problem
easily change plants around
best for indoor or greenhouse growing
grows big beautiful plants
You need to monitor the water nutrient solution everyday. The large vegetables, heavy feeders, need replenishing and PH control often
They can be prone to leaks. Once you have some practice this is much less of an issue
Can be expensive to build, you need buckets or pots, flex drip line, return line, growing medium and a pump. My 4 bucket tomato kitchen garden cost me about $70. Note every component is reusable for many years.
Don’t use cover on you buckets unless your plants are outside in the weather. The covers will allow mold to grow on your growing medium. It also gives pest a great place to hide.
Use a water reservoir that is large enough. Your plants will grow bigger and faster than you expect. Have a deep enough reservoir to keep up.
Dutch buckets for indoor vegetables is a flexible and easy way to grow almost anything. Like all hydroponics, you will be amazed at how fast and healthy your plants grow.
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Have fun with new ideas when trying dutch buckets for indoor vegetables.