If you think your hempy buckets could be improved by fully aerating the soil every time you water, and you’d like to use less soil per bucket, and gaining some of the benefits of hydroponics interests you, this sharticle is about an $8 modification to a hempy bucket that requires no pumps or motors of any kind. Root rot is eliminated and it can be left in the sun to bake so it works outdoors, miles from anywhere, cut off from the world.
In 2016, before I was aware the DGC existed and four years before Illinois became a rec state I was living in a cabin down by the river and trying to teach myself to grow bud without ever making the Vice Squad aware it had even crossed my mind. So I learned organic and salt container gardening from YouTube and made a simulated cannabis grow out of pepper plants.
While studying gardening and hearing repeatedly that excess root moisture and poor drainage destroys plants, I noticed that even though sometimes the trees in my yard had 16ft of water up the trunk for weeks or months, they weren’t diseased or suffering from root rot. Floodland soil is not loose or fluffy, its fine, dense and sticky. But cover it in water and it bubbles up swamp gas for the duration.
A traditional Hempy Bucket is usually one bucket with vermiculite or perlite filled to your chosen depth and a drain hole that corresponds with that level of drainage media. Sometimes a pipe passes through the media into the reservoir area.
This modification involves one additional bucket and some lava rock. The interior bucket has the bottom drilled out until it resembles a net pot. That bucket then gets two inches of lava rock and is placed inside the second bucket. Using a bright light, determine where the lava rock layer lines up with the outer bucket and drill through the bucket into that layer. Now loosely fill the interior bucket with your chosen media leaving a four inch gap from the top of the bucket to the soil level and put a 2 inch layer of lava rock on top.
The watering process is a little different than normal. You fill a second bucket with about 1.5 gallons of water and pour it as fast as possible (under 4 seconds ideally) onto the lava rock mulch. (if you don’t add some sort of rock as mulch the fast pour is going to dig holes in your soil). If you let the top layer of soil dry out enough that layer of crust will resist letting the water pass through for a bit, and then when it does, its a violent bubbling action. The plant vibrates, the bucket shakes, and if your deck is wooden your deck will probably shake. Its sounds like a moose sized animal is clearing a moose sized bong once it gets going. That water now completely fills the gap under the bucket and halfway fills the lava rock area in the bottom of the interior bucket. This turns into a small hydroponic reservoir once the roots hit it, the growth is explosive. The roots in the reservoir can be allowed to go completely “dry” since the humidity will be so high inside the buckets…as long as you have soil moisture, your hydroponic root tips will live. They don’t seem to be bothered by heat either. These sit in direct sun all summer with no effort to shade them. I’ve gotten four years of gardening out of that system, haven’t killed a plant yet and not for lack of trying.