When it comes to hydroponics, a wick hydroponic system is the simplest and most straightforward in both function and form.
If you are planning to try out the system, I suggest starting with a wick hydroponic system. It would be best to learn how it works by considering the pros and cons to get a good start.
A wick hydroponic system only requires four components, and you can readily construct one using some items you can find at home. You might face a tricky element in selecting the materials you will use for the wicks since there are many options to choose from.
Among the six forms of hydroponics system schemes, the wick hydroponic system is the simplest form. With this type of system, it uses the wicking action to supply a water-based nutrient solution straight to the roots of the plants.
In every wick hydroponic system, it is comprised of four basic components:
• Growing container
• Reservoir for the nutrient solution
• Growing medium
The growing container is within a short space over the reservoir. The wicks work by drawing the nutrient solution upward from the reservoir and release it into the growing medium, which absorbs and supplies it to the plant roots.
How does a wick hydroponic system work?
Before discussing the wick system’s pros and cons, you should understand first how this type of hydroponic system works.
Generally, a wick hydroponic system utilizes capillary action, which provides the nutrient solution to the plants’ root zone. It is important to note that the capillary action is where sponges or paper towels absorb fluids from any surface.
A wick hydroponic system is considered a passive procedure in which the system functions without any pumps, motors, or movable components. Although, it does not necessarily mean that you will not incorporate any machinery. It merely explains the fundamental performance of the system.
As the easiest of all the hydroponic systems, it often includes a pump to ventilate the nutrient solution, but not necessarily a requirement for the system to work. Take note that the capillary action provides the liquid to the roots on its own.
Why choose a wick hydroponic system?
One of the main reasons why you should choose a wick hydroponic system is its environment-friendly structure. If you position one in an area where your plants will receive sufficient natural light, you no longer need any electricity to grow your plants successfully.
You can opt to use recycled and renewable materials for your components. Additionally, a wick hydroponic system utilizes less water and nutrients than the other types.
Another reason why you should choose a wick hydroponic system is its sheer simplicity. It is the ideal choice as a beginner project for anyone eager to try out hydroponics.
I recommend starting with a simple setup, where the structure is maintenance-free. You only need to replenish the reservoir containing the nutrient solution as necessary and flush out the system routinely.
By starting with a wick hydroponic system, you do not need any specialized equipment. As a simple system, all you need is a few buckets that will serve as your containers.
An alternative is to prepare a small wick system container using a 2-liter plastic bottle. As for the wicking material you will use, any absorbent material is an excellent option to work with, such as yarn, rope, string, or even strips of old clothes.
Remember that you do not need to have specialized knowledge to create a wick hydroponic system.
What are the wick system pros and cons?
By now, you have a better understanding of how a wick hydroponic system works.
Let us now proceed to the wick system pros and cons.
Advantages of a Wick Hydroponic System
• The main advantage of a wick hydroponic system is that it is simple to build and relatively low maintenance.
• Whether you will choose to keep it simple or take it to a whole new level, you can do it by recycling or upcycling some household items and materials that you can find at home.
• Once you have your wick system running, you can enjoy low-maintenance gardening throughout the year.
• A wick hydroponic system does not require electricity to function. It is possible to create a wick hydroponic system in areas that lack direct access to electric power. It is also a sustained choice since there is no need to use electricity to provide artificial lighting to your plants.
• A wick hydroponic system is efficient when it comes to water consumption. As an automated system, the water-based solution’s delivery is based on the plants’ consumption.
• A wick hydroponic system utilizes less water and nutrients than other growing systems due to the variety of plants that it supports.
Disadvantages of a Wick Hydroponic System
• One of the downsides of a wick hydroponic system is the limitation of the plants you can cultivate.
• The reason for this is the slow rate at which the nutrient solution is supplied.
• Bigger plants and those that produce fruits require more water and nutrients to support optimum growth, making them undesirable choices for this growing system.
• The growing medium is susceptible to the deadly buildup of nutrients over time. Nevertheless, routine rinsing every 1-2 weeks with fresh water can help prevent this issue.
How to maintain a Wick Hydroponic System
Although a wick hydroponic system is a low maintenance system, there are a few considerations to bear in mind to ensure that your plants will stay healthy and happy in their growing environment.
One of the main concerns in this hydroponic system is that the plants will not receive an adequate nutrient solution. The issue is mainly due to the low volume in which the wicks supply the liquid.
It is vital to regularly monitor that the medium is always moist and watch out if the plants show signs of thirst.
Remember that higher temperatures, dry air, and larger plants will require more moisture. If dryness is evident, I recommend adding more wicks, trying a different wick material, or switching the growing medium to more absorbent ones.
If you plan to try out a wick hydroponic system, it is easy to create one at home. With proper preparation and suitable materials, you can start your growing system that is easy to create and low maintenance. Make sure that you know the basics and the wick system pros and cons to figure out if this system is suitable for your needs.