DIY HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS

3 Wickedly Great Wick System Hydroponics Designs

Wick System

You can put away the extinguisher and certainly toss out the lighter!  Wick system hydroponics, fortunately, has nothing to do with burning anything but instead focuses on a simple method of water transport.

 

The wick system hydroponics systems we review today will come in many forms but are typically composed of four or five parts:  the wick, a net pot, Hydroton pellets (aka expanded clay pellets), a water reservoir, and on occasion an air pump and stone unit.  Compared with other systems, wick system hydroponics are often considered the easiest for beginners as the wick helps control the watering of the plant perfectly and you can let the system go for a long time without doing any maintenance on it.  For another “lazy” system, check out our guide on Kratky system hydroponics!

 

 

Mason Jar Wick System Hydroponics 

 

Overview

One of the simplest systems to build yourself (and easily purchasable in a kit, such as the one above that I got from Back to the Roots) this kind of wick system should only take you about 10 minutes to assemble and really lets you practice using the system before making a big commitment to the system as a whole.  The system requires no electricity and only the simplest of materials available.  

 

It can be a bit tricky to find a net pot that fits your mason jar as perfectly as the example we give above, but you can be sure to read our build recommendations to find the perfect fit.  Plus, if your net pot is a bit too big and comes over the top we’ll be sure not to tell on you and your plants will do just fine so long as the wick makes it down into some water and nutrients!

wick mason jar
Mason Jar Wick System, Source

 

Budget

no more than $10

Build Time

10 minutes

System Size

1 plant

Area

small, mason jar size

Pros

Incredibly easy to build.  Can be placed anywhere.  Inexpensive.  Low maintenance.  No electricity required.

Cons

Limited crop selection.  1 plant per system.

Learn more 

Wick Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

 

Grow Tray and Reservoir Wick System Hydroponics

 

Overview

This system is upping the complexity just a bit, by having two separate compartments do the work for you.  Your plants will live in a grow tray, which is supplied with water by wicks coming in from a reservoir.  The grow tray can be compartmentalized with wicks going into individual beds or it can simply be filled with a growing medium and the plants can be placed directly inside.  The reservoir, in addition to nutrient water and the wicks, might also have some sort of aeration system to increase the oxygenation of the water.

At its most basic level, you can just place the grow tray on top of the reservoir and feed the wicks through, making a very compact system.  This can be especially effective if you want different nutrient mixes for a number of different styles of plants.

 

At the same time, this system can actually be scaled up relatively effectively if you have room to feed the wicks to multiple grow trays.  One way to make this work is by using a holed greenhouse table, such as the one pictured on the right, and feeding your wicks up from the bottom into several planting trays on the top shelf.  Be sure to check out our ‘build this system’ info for more thoughts on this and other concerns with this system!

Grow tray wick system
Grow tray and reservoir wick system, GrowWithoutSoil.com

 

Tray-and-reservoir-wick-system
Totes container-Tray and reservoir wick system, Source

 

Budget

from $40 to $200+, depending on the complexity

Build Time

weekend project

System Size

from 8-30 plants per planting tray

Area

From 4 foot X 4 foot X 4 foot (one grow bed system)

Pros

Automatically waters at a larger scale.  Easy to scale.

Cons

Requires cutting.  Requires power for aeration pump.

Learn more 

Wick Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

 

 

Wick and Tube System

 

Overview

The wick and tube system adds another level of complexity and control to your wick system by adding PVC tubing pipes that can control the flow and aeration of water and nutrients to your wicks.  This type of system is really great for large greenhouses wanting to grow a lot of small plants (think lettuce) because the system can be created with rows and rows of pipes.  The rows can be stacked both vertically and or place side by side in a horizontal manner.

 

The plants fit directly onto the PVC piping units with the wick giving them access to the nutrients within.  The entire system can then be controlled from a central unit.  There is a great preference for using styrofoam or rubber to hold your plants in place in this system (as opposed to expanded clay pellets / Hydroton pellets in net pots) because you really *do not* want to have to find the clog in the system when you are running dozens of feet of tubing through your system!

 

Budget

$200+, depending on size

Build Time

weekend project *or* weeks

System Size

~5 plants per foot of pipe

Area

can fill several greenhouse rows

Pros

Automatically waters at a larger scale.  Easy to scale.

Cons

Requires cutting.  Requires knowledge of PVC installation.  Requires power.

Learn more 

Wick Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

 

Wick system hydroponics fulfill an interesting area in the world of hydroponics – a system for beginners that even experts can appreciate.  The system, once learned, can be customized and revitalized with many different new ideas and applications.  More, and differing, wick styles can be utilized.  A wide variety of plants can be used with the system and experimented with.  Do you let your plant roots and wick exist in the same container as your water reservoir or do you split them, forcing the wick to transport the water into an entirely different container?  Once you’ve gotten started, there is a lot to explore!

 

RELATED POSTS

Johnny

Johnny

John Alexander is a writer, English language educator, and plant enthusiast. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, he began working in labs filled with plants - identifying their seeds, counting their pollen, extracting their DNA, and (of course!) watering them as needed. Nowadays, he is focused more on words and language, whether that be teaching or writing.