Deep Water Culture (DWC) System Explained
Deep water culture or DWC is one method of growing plants in a hydroponic setup without the use of soil. When you’re just starting out in hydroponics gardening it may seem a bit overwhelming to learn that there is more than one method of doing soilless gardening, including ebb and flow, nutrient film technique, and deep water culture.
Deep water culture is one of the more popular methods for hydroponics gardening and it’s simple to get started. You can also buy kits and increase your knowledge by reading Kushy’s articles and resources.
How Does Deep Water Culture (DWC) Work?
The basic premise of this grow method is that a plant’s roots are suspended within a tank/container/bucket/reservoir of water. This water will contain nutrients that help them stay well-oxygenated.
These three parts will encourage the roots and the plants to grow faster and lusher.
1. Oxygen. The water within the solution needs to be highly oxygenated, otherwise the plants could drown. Normally in soil gardening the roots would lie within the soil that has gaps and holes where air would be, and where the water would naturally flow through. In order to provide the oxygen required in DWC, an air stone medium is placed in the container, and then an air pump is used to automatically keep the oxygen moving, much like how oxygen is supplied to fish in an aquarium.
2. Water. There is no actual “watering” of plants in DWC, as during the initial setup you’ll fill your containers with water first. This system is automatic.
3. Nutrients. Nutrients must be mixed with the water during the initial setup. These contain everything your plants need to thrive and grow. They are a necessity, just like you’d use soil and fertilizer for your outdoor plants.
Ebb and flow is also a hydroponics system but it varies slightly from DWC. In ebb and flow your plants are drenched a few times a day, while in DWC your plants’ roots are submerged 24/7.
Are There More Benefits to DWC?
There are many benefits to choosing deep water culture over your typical hydroponics setup, or one of the other systems. This type of system is perfect if you’re just starting out, as it’s simple to understand, and quick to set up. If you’re still uncertain, you could always research a hydroponics wicking system which is actually the simplest of them all.
In the beginning, growers are eager to get started. Then over time, they may lose interest or find life requires their attention elsewhere. Once your deep water culture system is set up, there is little maintenance to do beyond that. This makes it perfect whether you’re a beginner or extremely busy.
DWC also encourages faster growing time, which is also much tidier than growing plants in soil, especially indoors. For instance, if you’re ever grown lettuce outdoors, it usually takes about two months before you can harvest it. In an indoor setup you can harvest it in one month.
One other great benefit to DWC is that it involves fast assembly and has few moving parts beyond your air pump.
What Else Should I Know with DWC?
DWC may not be the best setup if you’re starting small. The pH levels of your water and nutrients can fluctuate quite a bit.
This type of system is reliant on a pump, so if there is a power outage, or your pump fails, you run the risk of losing your plants, as they won’t survive in a low oxygen environment.
Finally, it can be difficult to control your water temperature in your containers.
How Do I Set Up a DWC System?
There are only six components to a DWC setup. You’ll need to purchase a reservoir (fancy name for a container), an air pump that requires an electrical outlet, an air stone, tubing, growing media, and plants of course.
You can purchase all these components at Kushy, or even buy a kit with simple instructions.
First unpack everything from its packaging materials, Connect the pump to the tubing, then the tubing to the air stone. The air stone gets placed in the reservoir or container. You fill it up with water, add your nutrients, then put your seeds in.
After your seeds sprout, you’ll see your plants germinate. Once the roots touch the water, your plants will grow quickly. Your plants will drink up the water and nutrients as required.
As long as the water is oxygenated by the air pump the plants can stay in for the entire life cycle.
Why Is DWC So Effective?
Once you understand how to set up your own deep water culture garden, you’ll soon be able to enjoy its benefits. Just imagine how quickly your plants will grow in a simple and tidy indoor garden, almost twice as fast as soil-grown plants!