Outdoor Deep Water Culture


Haha, okay so i know this forum is mostly about controlled environments, and i know most of it is focused on pure hydroponic systems, and thus anything outside of these areas feels/seems taboo. But the name of this forum is also called “Open Agriculture” so i consider it to include much more than that, at least in theory. And apparently i’m “that guy” who just happens to do everything different from everybody else. lol. And that’s okay. I like be different and unique, even at the cost of being called crazy, a loon, or a heretic. haha. Hey, gotta keep life fun somewhow. :wink:

Anyway, so my latest update is about my larger Aero/Hydro/Deep Water Culture chamber thingy.

I first started out with a very small germination chamber one. It is a very small clear plastic container that had 3" holes drilled into the lid for 3" netpots, each filled with clay beads and 2" rockwool. With a small ultrasonic transducer piezo disc mister fogger device and a small air pump with two air stones. And a $50 Chinese LED array above. This germination tray seemed to work fairly well. Especially with crops like Peppers and Tomatoes. Lettuce i had trouble with. Basil did okay i guess. Eventually i did run into algae problems with the clear bottom (which i did anticipate), so eventually covered the bottom with reflective aluminum tape, leaving a small water gague opening to know the water level.

For those of you who know, i have an indoor unit i’ve been working on off/on called “Andrew’s Food Cube” or something like that. There is a thread on this forum about it. Basically an alternative version of a PFC but made out of 2ft x 2ft Extruded 80/20 brand Aluminum. The Korean 80/20 extruded aluminum design is way better than mine, but mine was sort of intending to end up like that. I just haven’t finished it, and that was the size i already had on hand. But anyway, i was thinking about what sort of medium / tray to use with that cube. I think i like the idea of plain ol’ dirt, so i may end up going with that eventually, or maybe not. Since i had such great success with my small germination tray thingy i decided to get a bigger one to test out. Plus i think it would work well under my food cube.

But for now i am actually using it outside as a sort of hardening off station before i transplant out my wild and domestic tomatoes. I also have an aero/hydro strawberry plant (not shown) that i am testing in this, so i will also watch it closely in this outdoor environment. I may plant something in this for growing in deep water culture the whole summer, but i do not know what yet, if at all. I just wanted to share some photos. Since everybody loves photos of what other people are doing. The plant you see in the corner is a Solanum galapagense tomato that is thriving.

So, yeah. That’s me. The weird guy. Doing everything different than anybody else. lol.


You`re in the right place, i like being that guy too cos normal is really boring :wink:


I appreciate hearing from both of you!

In spite of possible appearances to the contrary, plant pictures and reports on growing experiments are a lot more interesting for me compared to conversations about hypothetical designs for computer stuff.


Latest addition, 35 site high pressure cloner and seed starter built especially for the vertical towers. Can be driven by mains water pressure via solenoid, accumulator/solenoid or even direct by hp pump. Cost next to nothing to make thanks to ye olde aero spares box :wink:
600mm x 400mm x 300mm deep, 3 nozzles, drain to waste. Seed starting inserts,foam plugs with 12mm hole, coco matting strip and plasterboard/sheetrock joint mesh for intial root support. No itchy scratchy rockwool plugs to buy or dispose of :wink:

mist test with it hooked up to trusty aquatec 6800 pump, timer set for 2 seconds.


Are we starting the coco mat aero revolution, Atom? :wink:

Is this your first time trying it? Let me know what you think. If it is, some of the first roots can grow horizontally and not poke through right away if you over-wet it so make sure the roots have something to look forward to early on!

In the new frontier of re-usable cloth/mat substrates there are some other really cool options you can try, the best one being artificial micro-fleece (what Aerofarms uses), most fabric shops have something similar. Here is an excerpt from the Aerofarms patent if you want more specifics.

Cloth flat 10 is preferably made of an artificial fiber such as a micro-fleece. The 100 weight POLARTEC® fleece, manufactured by Malden Mills Industries, Inc., 46 Stafford Street, Lawrence, Mass. 1842 under their product style 7365 was used with excellent results. POLARTEC® fleece is unpilled, and the 100 weight fleece is strong without being too heavy. The wicking and water retention properties of the micro-fleece make it ideal for the system of aeroponic farming of the present invention. The 100 weight fleece has a weight of 10.0 oz. per linear yard, 5.1 oz. per square yard, and 172 grams per square meter.

source: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20080295400A1/


Hi Tino
First time using coco mat for starting seeds, ive used it in hanging baskets before ;) For initial testing i literally dropped 2 tom seeds into each site (70 seeds in all) and let it have at it. Most germinated around day 5- 6 but it may have been quicker if i had thought to use the aquarium heater before day 3 hehe. As it stands about 32 of the 35 sites have seed leaves above the foam plug. The roots mainly headed straight through the coco mat and down but im using a lot more mist than i normally would for cuttings or with prerooted seedlings. The average daily throughput is around 2L which doesnt sound a lot but i have 8x 15" tall toms that are happy with 400-500ml. In any case, its a fun way to pass the time while i`m waiting for the weather to warm up a little more :wink:


Wow, those are pretty good results!

Seed starting on mat/cloth is the best because you never have to transplant after seeding. It also provides the quickest transition to an aeroponic environment vs something like rockwool on a net pot.

The weather is almost there, happy everyone can start using the sun for growing again! :slight_smile:


Thanks for suggesting Coco Mat, I was messing around with Root Riot plugs, versus Rockwool, but a mat of sorts is the best because like you say allows the root to poke to the underside quite quickly. Home Depot did not have it, but it’s widely available online…On a different note any of you is having some better results about sprouting Cilantro? It’s quite slow…and germination rate is 30% at best…


Hello, and thanks for the pictures “weird guy doing it different than everybody else”. Is that tub like a Kratky or full Aero?


How did you like those riot root plugs? I was thinking of trying them next, though I don’t think they come in 2" size. But I might use them for transplanting tomatoes in regular seed trays.


I don’t grow or eat cilantro because it tastes like pungent vile soap to me. Strangly this is not the case for coriander spice (the seed of cilantro). I’ve thought about embarking on a breeding project to try and breed a cilantro that does not taste horrible to us cilantro haters, hearing that some of the Asian cilantro varieties may taste different and/or have higher genetic diversity or variability. But I have not tried.

Is the seed you are using fresh or store bought? If store bought that may be part of your problem, I also suspect seed scarification may help too, but really if you want cilantro that has a high germination rate after a certain number of years I suggest you select for that trait and breed your own. Just a thought.


From my experience with cilantro, you just have to wait, but everything helps; a heating mat and a dome for example.


I’m not up and up on all the terms so I don’t really know. I suspect it is similar to kratky, but I really don’t know. Heres another picture. Inside. It mists during the day and shuts off at night.

Ironically I’m mostly just using it to start my tomato seeds for transplant into soil, so right now I’m not even using it for true deep water culture. Just a germination bay. Though I may plant something in it for the summer. We will see how busy I get. Applying for a new full time job, so foreseeable my time may become limited soon.


Yep, mat and dome for sure…trying several types of seeds, Johnny’s seeds is next.
Some people suggest scaryfing, sand paper, freezer, was wondering…if someone out there had some special insight.
I like cilantro because i can leverage it into salsa.
Basil into pesto
Parsley into chimichurri


Yes i would call it Fogponics. i tried it, but felt the amount of mist generated wasn’t that great, so I moved to Kratky, and I has some great results, but now I am building my first true Hpa system. Pump and Tank should arrive today or tomorrow.
Meanwhile I am researching AA, by reading Atom’s posts. and will report of my progress in those areas as well.


Cool! I look forward to seeing how well that works for you! I’m still learning about all this, so a lot of it is over my head at this point. I 've generally learn best when I just try something, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Learning by experience, one step at a time.