Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dutch Bucket Hydroponics System

I finally got the Dutch Bucket Hydroponics System assembled and installed.

I chose to go with the Dutch Bucket system because of the low maintenance involved. Some would say it is more than other types, but the majority swear by this system.
I also made it only four buckets instead of more. This reason is because of the newness of this to me and the space restrictions. Once I dial it all in I plan to go ahead and extend it to a eight bucket system.

I pre-cut, pre-assembled and set everything up in the the shop before I took it out to the garden. 
It is made from four-five gallon buckets painted black with lids, 2" main drain pipe, individual 1/2" drains on the buckets, 1/2" irrigation hose with 1/4" feeder lines ran to each bucket.  

The nutrient container is 20 gallons with a homemade wood lid and the pump is a submersible 300 gallon per hour pump. I also put in a 4" air stone and a air pump to give the water a little extra air.
A timer is on the pump so it will water 4 times a day for thirty minutes.
The grow medium is Perlite. You can find it at Home Depot. They are the only ones that I found who carry it. 
 These tomatoes were started from seeds in the greenhouse. I washed all the dirt off the roots before I planted them in the Perlite.

Though my gardens are full of tomatoes already, I wanted to do this system to see if I can outgrow what is already planted.
The one thing I am going to have to do to make this work is create a shade for all this. The water cannot get too hot and the plants cannot dry out. Leaving them exposed to the sun will do both.

I cut a small slit in the lid next to the hole to hold the feeder tube.

As far as the mixture of the water, well that is something else. You can buy already mixed solutions you can add to the water but being the cheapo I am, I am doing it myself. If it works out then I will let you know, if not I will change the solution until it does.

And that's about it. I have spent over a year studying about the different types of Hydroponics and Aquaponics and this is what I came up with at the moment. I have more of these projects on the books. For instance, a horizontal, multilevel strawberry design, one that has fish, and a few more.
One step at a time. In a year or so I will look back at this first design and laugh at myself.

That's all I got for now,


  1. Interesting, I need to have my husband read your post.

    1. Thanks Sandy, if you have any questions you can email me.

  2. I too am very interested in hydroponics...I like this set up, thanks for sharing it!

    1. Thanks THL, you can email me if you have any questions.
      I actually thought this would have drawn more interest than it has. I have been studying all this for over a year now and I thought is was going to be a hot topic and a big deal.
      It is for me and I can't wait to expand this into several complete gardens of hydroponics.

  3. I have been interested in Hydroponics since high school, but due to lack of funds and (proper) space, I haven't even dabbled in it. however, your setup seems compact and inexpensive enough. and considering that, by the looks, you arent doing it in a greenhouse, i can use your data to determine if it's worth doing on my space and budget. What kind of foot-print did you end up with? was the water temp acceptable with the reservoir put above ground? have you tried combining it with aquaponics yet?

    1. Thanks for the comment DV.
      The buckets sat on a 3' diameter wire spool and the water tank was a 2' diameter large bucket. So the footprint was small.
      The total cost was about $75 dollars and that was for the pump, hoses, connections and perlight.
      I didn't have the room to put it in the greenhouse and it did fine outside. The water temp was above what they say it should be but it didn't hurt anything. The water stayed in the shade for most of the day and I added 5 gallons of water to it almost every day once the plants got big.
      I did drop the watering back to three times a day because they were getting too much.
      Aquaponics is next. I will use the bucket system again next year for more tomatoes and a tiered system for strawberries. The Aquaponics will be a larger system and will have to be done down in the barn to keep it out of the sun.
      If you have any more questions just let me know.
      Good luck with yours.

  4. I was thinking about the grommet in the round bucket for the drain line did you have any leaks. Thanks

    1. Yea Thomas, they did have a drip here and there, not too much though.

  5. Hello,

    I really thank you very much for this informsation.

    I have a shed with a roof and no walls can I grow any thing there?

    At this time of the year where can I find Tomat's plant ,because here in NJ by the middle of august if you don,t have seeds you cannot find tomatos plant in any nursery

    for a two acle land how much many I will need to start a hydroponic system with same set up as yours and what can I grow in the winter time in NJ? Thank you in advance

    1. Thanks for the comment Robert,
      I would think you can grow whatever you want in that shed.

      I don't have a clue about NJ and where you can get plants at. I would think getting a seed catalog or find a seed company on the internet.

      If you are a scavenger then it wouldn't take much to start one of these systems. As far as growing in NJ, if you have a greenhouse with heat you can grow anywhere.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  6. Why do you need large buckets the size of 5 gallons?

    Are the buckets filled up with growing medium or only the pots?

    What size are pots?

    1. You don't need that big of a bucket. The only reason I used them is because they were free.

      The whole bucket is filled with it. The medium is also in a paint screen to keep it from washing out and into the holding tank.

      There are no pots. The plant is planted directly into the grow medium.

      Thanks for the questions.

    2. what is the diameter of the holes on bucket covers?

      Duration and intervals of feeding

      Is one feeder line per bucket is sufficient to cover the media inside evenly?

      What was the result of your first crop? I mean how much did you get per bucket?

      Any changes have been made?

  7. Hi

    What is the current status of your system?

    I have following questions to ask

    With one feeder line for each bucket, will it cover all the growing medium evenly?

    What is the diameter of cut-outs on bucket lids?

    What is the duration for which water fed? At what intervals?

    And finally, were you happy with the results?

    1. Thanks for the questions raju,

      The current status of the system is not. Being I have this system outside, where I live it is not time to start it up again.

      The holes in the lids are 4"

      The watering depends on your environment and the plants. I started off with constant watering then cut it back to just when they looked like they needed more then picked back up a little. The timer on mine was set to run for 1 hour 6 times a day. The plants seemed to like it there.

      One feeder line is all you need as long as the water stream is pointed to the root mass.

      The results of my first crop were not as much as I would have hoped. I think the water temp was too hot for them being it was outside. This year I plan to bury my water tank in the ground to keep it cooler. The cherry tomatoes did great but the larger tomatoes did not do so good.

      As far as changes, This year I plan to have a grow line attached above the plants and tie it off as it grows. The plants last year grew so big it was hard to manage.

      If you have any more question just let me know and thanks again. I hope this helped.

  8. you have mentioned the bucket doesn't have to be 5 gallon big, but would 2 gallon buckets work for growing tomatoes, eggplants, etc.? Thank you.

    1. Thanks Sun, yes they would. Any size container will work.