Hydroponics Wick System for Beginners

Hydroponics Wick System Guide

Let us learn today about “HYDROPONICS WICK SYSTEM”. There’s been a lot of buzz about hydroponics all over the internet. This soil-less method of plant cultivation is a sensation and is been taken as an alternative to conventional planting methods. Indeed the soil-less method of raising plants or hydroponics farming has numerous advantages but for any grower, praises aren’t enough!!

For stepping into the world of hydroponics we need to understand how hydroponics is done?

What are the requirements for hydroponics?

Since we are always thriving to serve all correct facts in your platter. Today we will discuss, what are the different types of hydroponics system?

However hydroponic systems work may seem complex at first, but trust me it is not any rocket science. Once you understand them, you’ll see how they work is actually really quite simple.

Types of hydroponic systems:

As we very well know plant roots require three basic things to thrive, water/moisture, nutrients, and oxygen.  So on the basis of availability of these three factors and simply how they facilitate these three things to the plant’s roots we have six different types of hydroponic system. Each type of system has a different approach of providing required factors to the growing plants.

 Six types of hydroponic systems:

  1. Wick system
  2. Water Culture system
  3. Ebb and Flow (Flood & Drain) system
  4. Drip (recovery or non-recovery) system
  5. N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique)
  6. Aeroponics

Wick system of hydroponics

Wick system is the simplest hydroponic system out of six; it is a user-friendly system of hydroponic because of its passive nature. In wick system components are stationary it doesn’t have any moving parts, thus it doesn’t require any pumps or electricity. However, some experienced growers still like using an optional air pump placed in the reservoir. Since wick system doesn’t need electricity to work, it’s also fairly useful in places where electricity can’t be used which gives the producer freedom to place his or her system without looking or arranging long wires, switches or sockets.

The wick system is an easy type of system to build when you in the initial stage of learning about hydroponics so it is the best hydroponic system for a newbie. This system is also used by teachers in classrooms as experiments for kids to help them understand how plants grow or to introduce them to the science of hydroponic farming.

Principle of wick system:

Wick system works as its name says in this system water is wick to the growing plants from the reservoir by the simple process of capillary action. The nutrient solution is drawn into the growing roots from the reservoir with a wick. In simple terms we can say, it sucks up water in which nutrient solution is dissolved to the plants through the wick. The bucket/container with the growing plant in it basically is placed right above the container used as a reservoir. That way the nutrient solution doesn’t need to travel up very far to get to the growing media with plants.

What you need to build a wick system:

Simple system and simple requirement which as follows:

  • A bucket or any container for the plant.
  • A bucket or any container for the reservoir.
  • Good wicking growing media like coco peat, Vermiculite, or perlite.
  • Few strips of material like felt or good wicking rope.

For container there is a simple thumb rule:

  • Select container which can hold sufficient or required amount of water
  • It should not leak
  • The container can be made up of any material but it shouldn’t corrode or react with nutrient solution
  • The container should be opaque means it should not allow light to pass through it

These are the only prerequisites for containers used for holding the growing plants and as a reservoir. Rest your creativity is always welcome you can pick any color, any shape, and any size.

Wicks:

The wick itself is probably the most important part of the wick system as evident the name of the system is derived from this component only. The role of the wick is to provide nutrients to the plant, without a good absorbent wick the plants would not get the right moisture and nutrients that they need. So you will likely need to do some testing of different materials to see what works best for your plants. When looking for superior wicking material, you’ll need to use something that’s absorbent, but is still resistant to rotting or it is unreactive. Some commonly preferred  materials as per the recommendation of experienced people who have successfully installed wick system are stuff like, fibrous rope, propylene felt strips, rayon rope or mop head strands, braided polyurethane yarn, wool felt, wool rope or strips, cotton rope, a stripe of fabric from old clothing or blankets, etc.

One must make sure to use adequate wicks to fulfill the plant’s water usage. You’ll likely need at least 2-4 wicks unless it’s a really small arrangement. Also, the length of the wick should be appropriate, as the shorter up to the wick the water has to go from the reservoir to the growing media and roots, the more amount of water it can transport to the growing media.

As per experienced growers, first washing the wick well before you install it in the system, can significantly improve the wicking ability of most materials.

Growing media:

Here the role of growing media as always is to provide anchorage to the growing hydroponic plants. Once the nutrient solution makes it up to the wick to the growing media, One must use an absorbent growing media to further wick up and hold moisture for the growing but without getting soggy because if the growing media becomes soggy it will cause suffocation to the plant’s root due to less oxygen supply. Some of the most frequently used growing media’s for wick systems are coco coir, Vermiculite or perlite. The wick sucks up water and nutrients evenly by capillary action and the plants don’t use or absorb them evenly hence excess nutrients often accumulate in the growing media over time. So for flushing, this excess build-up of nutrients growing media should be thoroughly washed with plain fresh water regularly. Possibly something like about every couple weeks. This reduces the possibility of the nutrient salts building up and getting toxic levels for the plants.

The Reservoir

The wick system reservoir can be large or small depending upon your plant type and its water requirement. Make sure the water level remains high enough so the water (nutrient solution) doesn’t need to travel up very far to get to the growing media and plant’s root zone. The reservoir should be clean and water should be changed completely once in a while too. This is done to avoid infestation of diseases as we know algae and/or microorganisms begins growing in the food-rich standing water, especially if the container is not light proof.

Limitations of the wick system: 

  • The major shortcoming of the hydroponic wick system is that they don’t really work well for larger plants that need more water to grow. This system is more suited to grow smaller non-fruiting plants, like lettuce and herbs.
  • Wick systems also have the disadvantage of being less efficient when delivering nutrients to growing plant.
  • The plants take the nutrients as per their need and leave the rest of the nutrients in the growing medium. This can eventually cause a toxic build-up of minerals in the growing media. So flushing the excess nutrients from the growing media with plain fresh water has to be done regularly, like once a week or so to avoid its ill effect hindering plant‘s growth.

That’s all folks about hydroponics wick system.

Read: Bamboo Rice Farming.

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