General Hydroponics WaterFarm Bucket systems are a great setup for the beginning hydroponic gardener. They are self-contained and can support five small plants or one large plant, and can be operated as either a deep-water culture or an ebb-and-flow system. Growing vegetables and herbs in a WaterFarm Bucket is relatively simple, and its compact size means that you can grow plants in even the smallest space.
Get the Lighting Right
Plants need ultraviolet (UV) radiation in order to perform photosynthesis. Find a location with plenty of sunlight to set up your WaterFarm Bucket. If you do not have an ideal location, you can supplement the available sunlight with artificial UV radiation from specially designed hydroponic grow lights.
Choose the Right Plants
A WaterFarm Bucket can grow five small plants or one large plant. Carefully rinse as much of the dirt as you can from the roots of the plants and transplant them into the clay pebbles in the growth tray.
If you choose smaller plants, space them evenly around the outside of the drip ring. If you choose one larger plant, place it in the center of the growth tray.
You can grow tomatoes, beans or peas, or other vine plants in a WaterFarm, but be sure to supply a support structure. A net-style support, with strings pulled tight between two posts, works well because it does not block the available sunlight. Weave the young plants through the netting every few days.
Monitor the Nutrient Solution
You will need to monitor the nutrient solution daily. One large plant can consume over half of the solution held in the bucket in a single day. Replenish with plain water to avoid mineral salt build-up. Every two weeks, flush the system with fresh water, and refill the bucket with fresh nutrient solution.
When you top off the bucket, pour the fresh water directly over the clay pebbles. This will wash any build-up mineral salts back into the nutrient reservoir.
Depending on the plants you choose, you may want to run the pump continuously or buy a timer that will turn the pump off at selected intervals to let the roots dry out a bit.