In this course I will teach you how to make a simple bubble bucket system for five plants for only $50. It honestly isn’t inferior to commercial systems that often cost more than $500. I’m always surprised to see how expensive those commercial systems are, since the principle behind bubble buckets is very simple.
In bubble buckets, the roots grow in the water. The major advantage is that you can never give them too much water. A drawback is however that you must always have optimal EC and pH values of the water. Everything revolves around water. It needs to be fresh, not stagnant and has to be provided with enough oxygen to ensure the roots won’t start to rot.
The main equipment is therefore a circulation pump that pumps the water around, and an air pump that provides oxygen to the water. Both can be purchased on Amazon for about $15, or at your local garden center. You’ll also need a large water tank with a lid and that’s it. You won’t have to spend more than $50 if you do some smart shopping.
There are however some things to pay attention to when building your own system. For instance: the water tank must be lightproof, so the roots will grow in the dark and bacteria have a smaller chance of nestling. That’s why I wrote this course. I will give you a detailed explanation of what you need and how to make your own bubble buckets.
What you need
Get a water tank that’s not too tall, because you have to fill it with water, to 4 inches below the rim. This one is 14.5 inches tall and holds about 40 gallons of water. A proper tank is probably the most expensive thing you have to buy. I had this one lying around, but I think one like this will cost you about $50 in the store.
You could also buy a large storage box. These are nice and cheap and have a lid that properly fits and can easily have holes drilled into for the pots. These boxes are usually transparent, so you’ll have to wrap it with lightproof foil. You could for instance use aluminum foil or panda foil.
The circulation pump is placed in the water and makes sure the water is constantly being pumped around the tank. This gives algae, pests and diseases no chance to grow. The pump also makes sure the nutrients are properly mixed and the EC and pH are equal in every part of the tank. Another advantage is that this pump generates heat, so you won’t have to additionally heat the water. The ideal water temperature is between 64 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can get a basic circulation pump for $15 on Amazon or at your local garden center.
You need to equip your installation with an air pump to provide the water with sufficient oxygen. Connect several airstones to this pump and place them in the water underneath your net pots. These are the ones that provide the water with oxygen. But they also cause bubbles, so the bottom of the lid will get wet and the water will splash against the roots. This is especially useful in the beginning, when the roots aren’t in the water yet.
The air pump usually comes with 1 or 2 airstones, so you’re going to have to buy a couple additional ones. Also buy some splitters, so you can attach multiple airstones to a single pump.
I’m going to make a simple wooden lid for this tank. I first drill circular holes for the net pots and then waterproof it with reflecting foil. A wooden lid like this one will last about a year, because it will always get a bit wet anyway.
The net pots can be very small. The roots will grow through and will keep the plant in place once they’re in the water. If you’re placing cuttings you have to put some clay pellets in there to stabilize the cutting.
1. The first thing we need to do is to make holes for the net pots. Draw the net pots on the lid, about 2 inches from the edge of the water tank. We will optimally use the available space if they’re growing close to the edge. Also determine the center of the water tank and draw the last net pot here.
2. Drill the holes with a drill and a hole saw. Use the hole saw that’s one size smaller than the top of the net pots. Otherwise the pots will fall through the lid.
3. Now draw a square in the middle on the edge of about 12 inches. Saw this out and attach two laths that stick out on both ends. It’s now a sort of lid. You can measure and adjust the EC and pH values through this hole.
4. Now make another small hole in the corner of the lid you can put the air hoses of the airstones through.
5. Since the lid is made of wood and will often get wet, we’re going to have to waterproof it. Wrap it with pond liner or panda foil. You can obviously also use a plastic cover from the start.
6. Now put the airstones underneath each pot on the bottom of the water tank and connect it to the air pump. Now also place the circulation pump.
7. Fill the tank with water and check if everything is working. Super cool right?
I’ve often worked with homemade systems like this one and experienced really great results. You could also equip the tank with a water filter, but the airstones and circulation pump should move the water around enough to prevent the occurrence of fungi and bacteria.
You can follow this course about bubble buckets if you want to know how to grow with a system like this one. In this course I will explain step by step what you need to do and what you have to pay attention to. And you can post all your questions on the forum.