With all of the different types of hydroponics systems out there, drain to waste has to be my favorite. The main reason I like this one so much is the delivery method of the plants’ nutrients. In the other hydro systems (Deep Water Culture, Ebb and Flow, Nutrient Film Technique, and Aeroponics) the nutrients are in a reservoir and are cycled through the system. Deep water culture or DWC uses a bucket, water, air stone and nutrients, and the plants’ roots grow into the bucket and consume the nutrients it wants.
The same goes with the other systems. Roots are emerged or constantly being sprayed while taking up what nutrients are in its reservoir. The only problem with this method is that there are only so many nutrients in that reservoir. So as your plants eat, they are taking up the nutrients that are available.
Most gardeners will change their reservoir out weekly, but let’s say you only change it every two weeks. Your plants could have eaten up all of a specific macro or micro nutrient, and you will start to get nutrient deficiencies. With a drain to waste system, these nutrient deficiencies never happen.
So what consists of a drain to waste system and why is there never a nutrient deficiency? A drain to waste system has a reservoir to keep your nutrients in, a submersible pump, a type of square or round mesh pot that has good drainage, soilless media, a flood tray, and a waste bucket. The way this system works is you fill your reservoir with water and adjust the PPM and pH to how you desire, connect your drip lines to your containers, set your water pump to come on 3-6 times a day depending on water/nutrient uptake, set up your flood tray to drain into your waste bucket, and you’re ready to grow.
The reason this system will never have a nutrient deficiency is because your reservoir will stay at the exact Ph and PPM that you set it at, and your plants receive those exact same nutrients every single time. You no longer have to worry if your plants are taking up more macro or micro nutrients because this will stay consistent.
I’ve been lucky enough to get to play with the Flora Flex line. This company makes different sizes of square and round pots, but what makes them so different is their lids that fit each size container. These lids have several perforated holes on top which allow an even flow over your media, unlike the drip lines which only flow in one space. They also have this manifold which allows you to run up to 8 plants off each one and can also be run in a larger growhouse and be connected by ¾ inch pvc up to 1 inch. They also have quick disconnects that allow you to take apart the manifold without interfering with your growing equipment.
If you are looking to grow hydroponically, I’d seriously consider using the Drain to Waste method for consistency of results and strong, productive plants. We are happy to talk with you about how to construct a drain to waste system or to troubleshoot with you about any issues you may have with your indoor growing projects!