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Simple Hydroponics, The Wick System

Discussion in 'Hydroponics / Aeroponics' started by mogie, Mar 21, 2007.


    mogie Well-Known Member

    Contributed by: Tricky Gnome

    The Wick System is probably the simplest hydroponic system.It is a passive system by virtue of there being no moving parts and where the nutrient solution remaining static in one place.The solution is taken out of a container and led to the plants? roots through the growing medium by capillary action, conducted through one or more wicks.Normally in this system a mixture of of various growing media are used in order to increase to the utmost their capillary capacity.This system contains conventional soil supplemented with fertilizers, with plain water in a container solely for irrigation.As this very compact hydroponic system is so versatile especially in small home gardens for growing in small spaces as it can be set up on a very small scale.This system?s biggest limitation occurs with large plants which need large amounts of water which the wicks are unable to supply in adequate amounts.In this case, the number of wicks has to be increased to supply demand for water!Of course adding pumps would be advantages but this is just an example of the simplest method you can add your own thoughts and idea's at any stage.
    Al B. Fuct

    Al B. Fuct once had a dog named

    Wick systems are very much underrated, mogie. They are newb friendly as you just can't overwater. Especially nice in small scale ops, as you say.

    Suped Active Member

    what do you use for the wick???!:joint:

    Spittn4cash Well-Known Member

    how about wick. they sell em by the propane lanterns and candles.

    40acres New Member

    I realize this is an old thread, but i am checking out this wick system and would like to know if anyone has tried it, the results, and if it would work for sea of green.I think i can set up long flower boxes with wicks, and many clones.
    I know not to put 2 plants in the same container, but feel it will be allright with small clones and seperated grow areas.If anyone has any pics, that would be great as well.
    I have gotten quite a bit of responses in a short time in the hydro section, you guys are pretty chill over here.
    Al B. Fuct

    Al B. Fuct once had a dog named

    16mm (5/8") nylon rope makes a great wick. Run a couple of lengths through the bottom of the pot and fray the last 50mm of both ends.

    Wick systems can be used in SoG or any other style of grow. The upside is that you can't overwater a plant in a wick system, protecting new growers from the most common newbie mistake. They also will water plants when the grower forgets- as long as the res is kept full.

    The downside is that wicks don't move as much oxygenated nute solution across the rootmass as a recirculating system does and as such can't be as productive nor as fast as a recirculating hydro system.

    40acres New Member

    So since i was able to get Al's attention, what is the easist setup that wont require an assload of cash and not alot of engineering skills. Big order I know, but I have to ask.
    Al B. Fuct

    Al B. Fuct once had a dog named

    Depends on the capacity of your ass. :lol: Perspective is everything. ;)

    Presuming an ordinary sized ass, I'd estimate that a flood system would cost approximately 1/4 of one assload. They're cheap to buy and very easy to operate. I pay $52 for 900mm^2 trays. Floods can't clog like systems which force water through sprayers or drippers.

    Plants in floods can live in individual pots, which makes them portable within the op for spraying and evening out growth by placement in preferential lighting positions as needed. It also makes harvesting a lot easier than systems where plants' roots can knit with neighbouring plants. One batch can get out of your way pending manicuring. while the next batch takes its place under the lights. Saves days in getting harvests out.

    A flood system comprises a flood tray & hose fittings, stand, tank, timer, water pump, fill & drain hoses, air pump, bubble curtain and air line.

    The main failure point is the water pump. Pumps can croak outright or they can get air bubbles trapped in their impeller chamber if there's any excess length in the fill hose which allows the pump to lie on its side. The pump outlet should always point upward to prevent trapping bubbles.

    Flood systems require almost no maintenance. Tanks are dumped, cleaned and remixed bi-weekly. Nute solns should be dosed with 50% grade H2O2 @ 1ml/L every 3-4 days... but that's the lot.

    bigd921 Well-Known Member

    Al B. Fuct

    Al B. Fuct once had a dog named

    Wicks and Hempy buckets have the same issues with oxygenation. Flood systems are the simplest recirculating hydro ops, capable of decent root oxygenation.
    Mr. Maryjane

    Mr. Maryjane Well-Known Member

    I just love all these guides and stuff that you post, mogie. I probably could have read just your threads and learnded all I needed to know.

    homegrwn Well-Known Member

    omfg where were you guys when i made a thread asking if anyone still uses this.. just got mr. howard marks bashing me up and down how it sucks and its so old school...

    However i use it and have for 5 years... Ive had success and failure due to not filling the reseviour... lol.. just make sure you keep your water clean and no light on the wick cause it makes it algea and mold....

    you are still gonna want to hand water every once in a while to help the air get to the roots but if you go with the nylon rope the way its twined will allow water to enter the root system.

    I got negative rep for getting pissy with people highjacking my thread so dont mind me if i subscribe to yours and give my experience... love simple hydro so much easier than fucken up on an expensive ebb and flow or dwc... good luck and check out my thread

    DaveTheNewbie Well-Known Member

    in AUS they sell these pots in the hardware stores
    they call them auto watering pots
    basicaly they have a res in the bottom, and instead of using a rope wick, they have 3 spikes in the soil layer that go into the water res
    so the 'wick' is the medium you are growing in
    i cant believe that they dont have something similar for a few dollars wherever your from
    they work great, simple and noob friendly, cheap, and they cant break.
    been working for me filled with earth, coco coir, pearlite, or a combo of coir/pearlite

    EDIT : some people say that they over water the plant.
    i read somewhere that coco coir always has 60% air in it and cant be overwatered
    these all all just opinions, but i grow some decent plants this way, and im a noob
    the res empties every day when flowering, they use a buttload of water late in flowering cycle, maybe thats my saving grace?

    http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/03/05/grobal-green-techno-organic-self-watering-planters/ : says you can grow succlents in it : thats not overwatered

    all wick systems, you get the idea.
    Grower Z

    Grower Z Member

    Ed Rosenthal


    Wick systems use woven nylon rope to draw water up to the planting medium. The water is drawn up automatically as it is needed to maintain a certain moisture level. Most planting mixes maintain a moisture level sufficient for plant roots to draw upon. The soil should not get soggy because it maintains air space between the particles, allowing for proper drainage. Since water is drawn up to the medium, rather than flooding it periodically, air spaces are maintained continuously and the used air, containing CO2, is exchanged for oxygen rich fresh air.

    The wicks are continuously drawing up water, which is held in a thin film around the sides of the nylon threads. This provides a very large surface area in relation to the water depth. As a result there is a tremendous exchange of gasses between the air and water.

    In a wick system you don't have to worry about the roots getting enough oxygen. There is enough air exchange in the container for the roots to obtain adequate amounts of oxygen.

    You may find that the roots grow through the container opening and follow the wick down to the reservoir and then start growing a dynamic root system in the water. You will notice that the roots growing in the water are thick, grow fewer branches, and have virtually no root hairs. These roots are adapted for soaking up water/nutrient solution. Their oxygen requirements are probably met by the transfer of oxygen from the roots growing above them along the wick and in the planting mix.​
    scrog mcduck

    scrog mcduck Member

    Delta9nsx is averaging 15zs/plant.. with passive plant killer thread.... at icmag..


    I'm going to give it a try... coco and wicks.. no pumps or timers (to speak of)..

    I just built wick cloners today...

    TaoWolf Active Member

    Thought you might find this design interesting since the talk turned towards wicks. This design is 'wicking' but just uses a column of medium/soil without any wicks. And it's easy to DIY. *[these are not my pictures]

    wick1.jpg wick2.jpg

    It is simply two totes stacked on top of each other with some spacing between them. There is enough space so that when the bottom tote is filled with water, and the top tote is filled with soil, there is a layer of air in between them... Although the section of PVC pipe in the middle, bridges the two totes and is perforated with drill holes and allows a column of medium/soil to function as a wick into the reservoir. The smaller PVC pipe in the corner there just allows access to the reservoir once the top tote is filled with soil/medium.

    It's a simple design, but it works in the same principle as your drawing with a layer of air in-between the soil base and your reservoir... just minus a cloth wick.

    Some people even put horizontal PVC tubes through the sides like this guy did to allow even more oxygen into the soil or root zone:



    Just thought it was interesting idea along with the discussion.

    cmate Member

    I had built one of these a couple years ago - I had great results with it, nice big plant. Only problem is that the box is BIG, so it takes up a lot of space - horizontally and vertically. Also, I think it is overkill for one plant. You could plant two in there, but I have read that it is not a good idea to do that.

    Currently I am experimenting with a variation - I have a smaller plastic bin that acts as the reservoir, then I take coke bottles, cut the bottom off, take the cap off, drill a few holes in the thread area, and fill it with soil. As long as there is enough soil and it reaches all the way down to the threaded area, the idea is it wicks the water in from the reservoir.

    The reservoir (bin) I am using can hold 6 to 8 bottles. It is a filing container from an office supply store - clear. Now I can have multiple bins, for example, one for seedlings/cuttings, one for veg, one for flower, etc. If there is a problem with a plant, I just pull it's bottle out! If I need more space for a plant, I can remove it and put it in a less populated bin.

    Watering is as simple as simply making sure there is always 2 or so inches of water in the bottom.

    The only design issue I have so far is the bottles are of course top heavy, balanced on the cap thread area. So, I need to come up with some way to stabilize them in the bin better.

    Also, I am not sure if these bottles will be adequate in size for a full grown plant. I am hoping so! I am hoping by making sure there are adequate nutrients, the size will be ok.

    For media, I am using miracle grow currently. I think that needs to change though. I think I need a media that will wick, but has no nutrients per-se, so I can have full control of the nutrients via watering. Any thoughts on that?

    halitzor Member

    I might try this using vinyl gutters with end caps as trays and 16oz party cups as containers and put holes in the bottom of each and a wick in each cup. Could setup a nice mini stadium SOG and get quite a nice crop from a spare light.

    weaselman83 Member

    I was on here years ago, and Al,B; You're amazing.

    SO. I've been researching simple ways of growing. I've had moderate success with advanced experimental growing in other cities. I want to be simpler now. I'm a busy guy.

    WICKS: LOW AIR EXCHANGE: would an airstone in the medium be of any help below each plant as well as in the reservoir?

    Spuzzum Well-Known Member

    I've done wick before.. best if vermiculite/perlite mixture.. you can alter the moisture retension by adding more or less perlte.. the white stuff. Vermiculite expands and retains, while perlite allows a bit of aeration.

    Also.. don't forget the air stone and air pump. And whatever you use for the wick.. make sure it doesn't degrade in the water. My 1st attempt.. the wicks started to break down. :P

    And as all hydro.. make sure resrvoir section is light proof. As for maintaining a certain water level in the reservoir.. look into cheap float valves from your hydro store. Side mount on the inside of the reservoir, and has a spaghetti tube/silicone tube connected to the valve on the outside of the reservoir. This tube leads to a bigger reservoir, and works on the siphon concept.. put tube into big res, which should be taller than the little res.. then "suck" on tube until you get water.. pinch tube, and attatch to the outside valve of the float valve. Now when water level lowers, the float lowers.. alloing the replenish water to piss in until the float rizes back up and shuts the valve. .. Pretty easy :)

    Forgot to mention "spit".. after you suck in the nutrients... :D

    I prefer cubes in 3.5" or 4" pots, sitting in the lid of a tub. Reservoir's the tub, and feeds through spaghetti tubing. Not "drip".. but more like a piss, creating a "flood and drain" per individual pot. 15 minutes at a time, every 3 hours of light cycle... total 1hr a day per pump during 12/12.

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