Living An Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

DIY Aeroponic Bucket Bubbler Setup

One of the easiest methods of Hydroponics, (more specifically aeroponics) is the bucket bubbler system.  It can be made with everyday household items, is easy to maintain, and just about anyone can do it. 
 
In fact it's the only method for hydroponics I have any experience with because of the very limited space I have inside my home.  Don't let its' simplicity fool you though.  I have had no problems getting great results with growing bell peppers and tomatoes in my bubbler bucket systems.


What is a Bucket Bubbler System?



The bucket bubbler system is an aeroponic deep water culture method that contains almost the entire system inside a bucket filled with oxygen rich nutrient solution.  The plant itself grows on top of the bucket, and the roots grow inside the bucket.  An aquarium pump pushes oxygen through a nutrient solution.  As a young plant, the micro droplets hit the roots keeping them moist and feeding the plant.  As the roots grow, they eventually make their way into the nutrient solution.  As long as the solution stays well oxygenated, the roots will stay healthy and the plant will thrive.

How to Make a DIY Bucket Bubbler System

The materials needed for a bucket bubbler system is very minimal.  Many of the items needed, I already had around the house.  Here is a general list of what I used for my bucket bubbler
  • Food Grade 5 gallon bucket with lid - FREE (most restaurants will give them away)
  • Aquarium Pump - FREE (already had one)
  • Aquarium Tubing - FREE (already had one)
  • Aquarium Air Stone - FREE (already had one)
  • 4-6 inch plastic netted pot** - FREE (I actually used a deep plastic colander I had)
  • Grow Medium - $4.99 (Expanded clay pellets are most commonly used but I used aquarium grade river rocks from my local pet store)
  •  
    **Alternatively you can buy a netted pot lid specifically designed to fit on a 5 gallon bucket on Amazon for under $10 - LINK
Cut a hole in the center of the lid just big enough for your 4-6 inch netted pot can set down in, but not fall through.  I used a marker to and drew the outline of my net pot (colander) and cut the hole about 1/4 inch smaller to insure it wouldn't be too big. 
 
Next drill a hole a few inches from the top of the bucket big enough for your Aquarium tubing to fit snug through.  Put enough tubing into the hole so your air stone can sit on the bottom of the bucket, and attach the air stone. 
 
Fill your netted pot with your grow medium.  As stated I chose river rocks over expanded clay pellets.  The only reason I made this decision is because they were available locally and expanded clay pellets weren't.  You can pretty much use anything as long as it's sterile, and has no nutritional value.  If using gravel or rocks, you have to make sure the water won't dissolve the rocks.  This will affect the pH of your water.
 
If you aren't much of a "Do it yourself" kind of person, Amazon sells bucket bubbler kits that has everything you need to start growing.


 
 
When filling your bucket with nutrients and water, you want to make sure there is always an air gap between the plant and the water level.  When the plant is young, and the roots haven't made it through the net pot, your water level should be high enough that your net pot sets in the water about 1/8 inch.  Then as your roots start to form, drop your water about an inch.  When the roots are well established, your water level should be several inches from the bottom of the net pot.  The roots will grow down into the solution over time.  As long as you keep the solution oxygenated with the aquarium pump, the roots will stay healthy and the plant will thrive.
 
There are many ways to make the bucket bubbler, and some people even add a clear tube inserted near the bottom of the bucket and extending to the top similar to what you see in the picture below.  This allows for easy draining and a makeshift level gage so you can tell where your water level is.  I chose not to go this route, and simply lift the lid to check water levels
 
 
There is very little maintenance with this bucket bubbler.  About once a week, I check the water level, the pH levels, and the nutrient levels (ppm) and every 3rd week, I change the water and nutrients.  The bucket bubbler takes care of the rest.
 
I have included a video from MIGardener to help you better understand the DWC Bucket Bubbler system
 

 
 
 

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