Dutch bucket design systems also referred to as ‘Bato bucket’ systems, are great if you’re wanting to create large, scalable systems for larger or vining plants like tomatoes or cucumbers. The reason is simple… Dutch bucket design systems use one large reservoir to feed into several planters throughout your growing area. These systems are ideal for people that want to create one massive system and get a lot of return on their investment.
The last thing to mention about Dutch bucket design is the buckets! You can buy modified buckets or fix up your own, but they’ll all need some sort of drainage system that can either connect directly into piping or pour out strategically into the next part of your system. It can sound like a lot of work, but once you’re set up the system won’t need a lot of reconfiguring due to the central water ‘well.’
Speaking of which… we’ve all probably heard a quote about poisoning the water well, or rather not doing so, somewhere and Dutch bucket design systems are the place to put that wisdom into practice. Protect your main reservoir! Having one big reservoir is great for people that want to make a great mixture that works for all of their plants and just do it once – but it can be a disaster for those that are inexperienced or don’t keep a close eye on their measurements or property. Yet, all the same, we’re here to show you some wonderful Dutch bucket systems that will make “keeping all your ‘nutrients’ in one ‘reservoir’” worth the risk!
Staggered Dutch Bucket Design
This Dutch bucket design uses a wide table to grow alternating lines of tall, wide plants off of centrally located pump and drain systems. At the head of the table lies a reservoir with your nutrient water stock.
What makes this system so great for wide plants? The alternating pattern of the planting containers themselves only “touch” in a diagonal formation. This ensures that bushes or large fruiting plants like tomatoes have almost a full 360 degree growing range.
One thing that drives a lot of hydroponists crazy about a system like this is space inefficiency. One of the major components of any hydroponics system is efficiency, after all. The solution is rather simple, though… just add shorter systems in between the larger buckets to create a sort of checkerboard pattern for your table. Simple wick systems can do! Alternatively, you can use the rest of the tablespace as… well, just table space or a small workbench.
Up to 8 large planters.
8 foot X 4 foot X 4 foot (large garden table size)
Grows large, wide plants. Convenient.
Requires cutting. Electrical usage. Can be space inefficient.
Dutch Bucket Designs
The Dutch Bucket Row
For narrower areas, this style of Dutch bucket system design may very well work for you. Thin tables, benches, or horizontal overhanging flaps installed around the wall can be easily converted into this type of system. In fact, one of the best parts of this system is its ability to greatly use the areas hugging your walls effectively.
PVC piping attached along the edge of your surface should be fitted with pump and drain openings that go directly into the plant buckets. The two (separate) pipes will lead to a reservoir at the end of the long system.
Since this system will likely be against a wall, you can choose plants that need very specific light arrangements. Low-sun requiring plants, such as peas or dark greens, are great for areas with a solid wall. You can choose other, light-loving plants for areas that will be near windows.
1 large planter per 2 feet
1.5 feet wide X length of the wall you use
Grows large plants. Good use of wall space. Great for shade-loving and window-loving plants.
Requires a lot of cutting. Electrical usage.
Dutch Bucket Designs
The Dutch Bucket Bleachers
This Dutch bucket system will remind you of your days sitting in the small bleachers of your middle school cheering for the basketball team. Instead of screaming children, though, are bato buckets ready to pass along their nutrient-rich water from one plant to the next one below it.
Whereas a lot of these systems require a ton of gluing and connecting piping, this system just requires you to do it once for the top and bottom rows. The rows in between will just need a simple drain pipe fitted in and positioned so that the nutrient mix can flow out of one bucket and drain into the next.
The other great thing about this system is that it is a Dutch bucket design that can actually be rectangular or square-shaped on your floor space. Whereas others need to be in lines or other thin shapes, the ability to drain directly from one plant to another effectively circumvents this.
1 large planter per square foot
Less pipe fitting required. Can be arranged into a rectangular shape.
Requires a lot of cutting. Tall equipment.
Dutch Bucket Designs
Dutch bucket systems all boil down into how to arrange and modify your buckets so that water can pass through them simply. The layouts listed above can give you some great ideas about how people are tackling this problem. The biggest thing they all share is working with piping in buckets and ensuring quick draining of nutrients from one area to the next in a regular pattern.
Once you’ve mastered making your nutrient mix and got your system set up properly, a good Dutch bucket system is hard to beat. The initial work pays off quickly with the simplicity of the upkeep and any time you’re able to grow as many plants as you want and only have to deal with one reservoir, then you know you’ve found a good system.