The easiest entry into full-blown hydroponics is the Bubble Bucket.
The Bubble Bucket is inexpensive, effective, and quick to get going, making it an ideal introductory system for someone looking to test their hydroponic gardening skills.
Probably the easiest way to get into ‘real’ hydroponics, the bubble bucket is a single-site, Deep Water Culture (DWC) system. The plant roots are placed in aerated nutrient liquid which you change out once a week or every 2 weeks. This is a simple and reliable way to grow a small number of large plants, but big plants cause issues changing the water out unless you have the forethought to add a drain to the bucket
How does the Bubble Bucket Work?
A Bubble Bucket is exactly what it sounds like – a bucket with bubbling water. They are typically made with 5 or 3.5 gallon contractor buckets (picture the ubiquitous Home Depot orange pail), a lid with holes for net cups, and an air pump and stone. Think of the Bubble Bucket as a fish tank that grows plants on purpose. The air pump aerates the water and mixes your nutrients, so you can be largely hands off between nutrient changes.
A single Bubble Bucket can support from 1-4 plants, depending on the size of the bucket and how large the plants will grow. With a single plant, keep your net pot under 6 inches. For more than one, using 3 inch net pots, in evenly spaced holes to maintain the structural integrity of the lid. The last thing you want is to lose a promising pepper plant and accidentally flood your room because the lid cracked under the weight of your hydroponic gardening skills.
Because the Bubble Bucket has a closed-circulation water reservoir, using soil or coco coir as your grow medium isn’t going to work. Hydrostone, pellets of porous super-heated terracotta clay, will provide your plant the support it needs, hold moisture to keep the roots healthy, and won’t spill into your water reservoir. In the past, hydrostone was a harder-to-find specialty item, but with the growing popularity of indoor hydroponic gardening, you can find it in garden supply and hardware stores alike.
Maintaining a Bubble Bucket
One of the best features of the Bubble Bucket is how little maintenance it requires. Once you are set up, you need to watch the water levels and change the plant’s nutrients when appropriate. To make the method even easier, get an extra bucket. Being able to mix nutrients, test pH, and easily transport a bucket without having to figure out where to put the plant while you change its water is a huge time saver.
Bubble buckets are an ideal way to get into indoor hydroponics. They are easy to setup and use, and need minimal maintenance. While not the best option if you want to grow a forest, they make growing very productive in small scale.
Make a Bubble Bucket
Ready to try making your own? Continue on to How to Build Your Own Bubble Bucket ->
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