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There’s no hydroponic growing method I haven’t tried; DWC, RDWC, Flood and drain, top feed, bottom feed, aero, NFT, sprayers, and yes, even bio buckets.  Buckets, bins, tubes, rails, you name it.  If I had all the money back that I’ve spend on hydroponic growing contraptions, I’m confident I could take a vacation to Hawaii.  But there is one exception.  I’ve never tried flood and drain, using a controller box.  You’ve seen them:


I bought one of these Flood and Drain controller boxes a few months ago and started experimenting with it.

For those of you just now boarding the Captain’s ship, here is an example of my growing style.  A $10 tote, $15 water pump, some hose and a drip ring.  I run the water pump twice a day for 15 minutes at a time.  The grow is perpetual; each plant is self contained; each plant is a “harvest”.  Read Capn Style HOW TO here.

CapnStyleWittBagger CapnStyleFlower CapnStyleOUTDOOR

I got the controller bucket hooked up, with the idea I could run a few stations using a single reservoir, and get the growing containers closer to the floor, allowing more head room on top.EbbFlow


And it worked.  Here’s “Emdog”, a few days before chop.


But there was a problem.  My first mate, Slingblade was also experimenting with the same system.  After a month, he told me he was seeing slime in the reservoir.  I wasn’t seeing it yet, but after about two months, I started to see the slime in the bottom of the res.  But where was it coming from?  The reservoir water was no warmer than 70F, and I put an airstone in there to keep the dissolved oxygen high.

I disconnected a few hoses and this is what I found inside the hoses:


Yeah you guessed it.  The water sits stagnant in the hoses for 12 hours at a time.  During this time, the dissolved oxygen goes anaerobic.  Slime grows.  Slingblade was correct.  Flood and drain, using this controller box, will not work.  I disassembled the system and migrated my chongers to regular Captain Style totes again.  I pulled two of the rootballs out of their growing buckets to check the root balls, and luckily, no slime.  The slime was mostly free floating like little jellyfish and didn’t infect any roots.  However, if I had left it, I am certain it would have, eventually.

Looking back at it, I realize now what a huge mistake it was, and I should have known better.  But sometimes when we WANT something, we forget about the possible consequences, or go into denial about what could happen, should we choose this path.

A few years ago, I had a battle with “root rot”, or “Pythium” in a deep water culture grow.  DWC is notorious for being prone to pythium.  Pythium is the bad, anaerobic type that will literally make mush of your roots. Once you get it, it is near impossible to over come.  The roots die, plants start yellowing from the bottom up, and there is little hope for them.  I tried to combat it by killing ALL bacteria, with products like H2O2, Dutchmaster Zone, physan 20.  I was completely unsuccessful.  After 3 months of pain, I finally turned to beneficial bacteria and changed my growing style.

There are 100 reasons why “captain style” growing is one of the most fool proof, high performing, hydroponic grow methods.  Here are just a few:

  1.  Little to no chance of slime, pythium, root rot.
  2.  Each plant has its own simple growing system.
  3.  No chance of salt build in growing media.
  4.  The ppm and PH inside the root ball is always the same as the ppm and PH in the reservoir.  So there is no nutrient build up, no PH swings, no deficiencies.  No guesswork about the PPM and PH.  No need to measure “run off” water.
  5.  Errors with PH or PPM can be corrected immediately.
  6.  Roots love the wet / dry cycle twice a day, rather than twice a week (dirt / coco).

Capn Style growing is easy for beginners, and pros.  Your plant can be left for up to a week, unattended, depending on the size of your reservoir (or auto top off system).


This picture below was sent to me from a Canadian grower, who took CapnStyle OUTDOORS in his green house.  He grew 12ft tall plants.  Even with high reservoir water temperatures, he had no issues with root disease.  When the irrigation system turns on, water is super-saturated with oxygen, and the rockwool holds just the right amount of oxygen for the roots.