420 Magazine Background

SWICK Watering Systems: Letting The Plant Water Itself

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
In the middle of my first grow I stumbled onto a thread on another site, posted by one Noobwannb, showing how to set up. SWICK. Watering system. It's essentially a wicking system that has a broad surface of wicking material in a deep basin that your pots sit on top of. The concept fired my imagination and I set up my own to fit my tiny closet. It was one of the smartest moves of my growing journey to date. The smartest was choosing the Clackamas Coots-style Living Organic Soil mix.

Her's a repost of setting my system up, to get things started.

Perlite arrived today!! :cheer:



Time to make some SWICKs.

The other day I put together some quick bags to line the basins and hold the perlite. This is altogether unnecessary in my case since my pots are such a snug fit, but extra large liners it will give you the added benefit of having something to cover your exposed surface area and keep algae down. My thought was that if I ever needed to remove the perlite for any reason it would be much easier to simply lift out the bag filled with it than to scoop it out. So I grabbed some garden fabric I had laying around and cut it down to fit the basins I'm using.



I folded it over and used some fishing line to sew it together.



Stitching from the bottom up the side to the top first, I took the time to make this seam sturdier.



The bottom seam was done with a much looser stitch because I knew I would be gathering it together to tie off and secure the bottom.



All finished and they pop right into the basins I purchased. Seams to the inside. Two plain wash basins fit the bill perfectly and only cost $2.50 each.



An aluminum pan sitting unneeded in the kitchen served as a beautiful scoop that kept the dust to a minimum. One should be careful with perlite and wear a mask. Most of us don't. I didn't. Be smarter than me.



Two basins filled to the brim with perlite. Let's add some rainwater.



I marked the inside to show me the water level I wanted to come close to. Filled to the top and fully hydrated this will allow at least a 1" break between the bottom of the pots and the water level. It can be lower, but it should never be higher. They took about 5 quarts each before I stopped.



I took the time to press the perlite down into the water to help it settle and get fully hydrated. Then I topped them off with a couple more scoops of dry perlite, pressed it all level and went to have lunch.

When I came back after lunch it was firmly packed and moist all the way to the top. The water level was still below my lines. Time to get them settled under the pots.



I had to adjust the lights back to the previous count. They will work better with y-adapters and I can pick some up tomorrow. Facing that reality means I have to make arrangements for a couple power strips along the bottom to add more bulbs. That works for me. For now, there sure is a lot of light in this closet and the girls look happy as can be.



The perlite makes it easy to level the pots with a simple shift. The pots fit right on top, so there shouldn't be any concern with algae buildup on the perlite. The weed blocker cloth helps with that. You can cut the liner big enough to cover over any exposed surface when you have the luxury of space and a larger container. It will still be easy to rotate the pots that 1/4 turn every morning.

I'm going to give them about a week to adjust to this new watering approach and then give them a nice enzyme tea. My first attempt ever at sprouting seeds.

I'm wanting that LED light. Patience girl. All things in their right time.

:Namaste:
In case you didn't follow my first journal, here they were right before harvest.



Let's have some fun showing off our success and helping others make their lives easier and their plants happier. :green_heart:
 

MassMedMan

Member of the Month: July 2015
Howdy. :thanks:
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
You're welcome DrZiggy, and good morning MassMedMan.

OK. Down to business.

Sweetsue, a couple of SWICK questions, if I may. I am going to try SWICK on a couple of my plants in HB soil and Docs kit drenches.
i am going to use the azalea pots. How much wider should the dish or SWICK container be than the pot bottom?
How deep, or how far up should I bury the bottom of the pot into perlite or lava rock? TY :)
The SWICK need only be as wide as the pots that sit upon them. Multiple pots can be placed on one large SWICK, and they apparently communicate with each other much like they do in a shared soil matrix. Strange and wonderful, this planet we live on.

Depth of the reservoir is a personal choice. As long as your water level is below the bottom of your pots, assuring that the pot is not sitting in water, any option that works for you is acceptable. This is an amazingly adaptable system.

When using hard pots you want to wiggle it into the perlite or lava rock just enough to assure yourself that contact is being made through the drain holes. You can appreciate how the smaller particles of the perlite would make this contact easier than larger pieces of lava rock. For hard pots I really recommend perlite. These azalea pots are excellent for this Ziggy, because they have those huge drain holes.

Any other questions?
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
I welcome anyone with a SWICK or anyone setting up one to feel free to document it here. The more we can illustrate the easier it is for newcomers to this excellent system to begin their own transitions.

ClosetPharmer, I'd appreciate a testimonial about your coming home after being away a week. Awesome story!
 

MassMedMan

Member of the Month: July 2015
I've filled my perlite filled pans with water. First one was too much, observed the reaction over night. Then adjusted the amount of water I put in the other ones. I'm, two or three days away from putting my peat pots in those smart pots. Excited. I'll get a picture in soon... oh wait I might have one....

 

36Gr0w

Nug of the Month: May 2015
45gal smart pot with 7s and 3s around it. Sitting in a kiddie pool swick with perlite/lava rock. Just set up last weekend.
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
This is an excellent beginning guys. Thanks for posting. We still have Jamba and ClosetPharmer to hear from and DrZiggy is going to set up a system soon to use with HB, which may or may not have special concerns, as will I at some point in the near future. If I get to upgrade soon I'll be adapting my setup to the new space, so we'll have that too.

I'd say we kicked this one off nicely. Thanks for the support. Let's get people excited!
 

MassMedMan

Member of the Month: July 2015
Love the kiddie pool!! I'm six bucks into my perlite containers,, or I'd do that. You have that in a 4x4 right 36Gr0w?

Got my lava yesterday,, I like it, wish I had it in this run....Will be in the next!!
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Glad to help MrAm4zin. When you get around to setting your up post it here. This system is so incredibly adaptable and I want many different approached illustrated. There's going to be so many people telling us it won't work, we need ample evidence to persuade them to at least try.
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Love the kiddie pool!! I'm six bucks into my perlite containers,, or I'd do that. You have that in a 4x4 right 36Gr0w?

Got my lava yesterday,, I like it, wish I had it in this run....Will be in the next!!
I saw the pictures of that kiddie pool yesterday and got really excited at his inexpensive and unexpected solution to the reservoir challenge. Fabulous 36!
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
This is one of the coolest things I have seen on here yet. :high-five:

Assuming you manage to keep the drenches mostly out of the swick part how often does the perlight need cleaned out and or replaced? I really want to do this but the thought of needing to clean or change all that perlight is the only thing holding me back. :48:
These are very good questions Smokey. First off, there are a couple different ways to approach the drenches. If you're using smaller pots, or you're strong enough to haul around bigger ones, set up a staging area for drenches where you move the plants to that will allow the runoff to be collected in some type of basin. Then just set them back on the SWICK when they've stopped draining.

My method is to anticipate that with all that balanced hydration of the soil matrix the biota would have no problem distributing the drench throughout the pot over time, so I simply cut down on the volume of my drenches, making a more concentrated solution and applying it slowly and carefully. This worked quite well for me. You have to think of the SFW as a vibrant and active community. Nobody's slacking off here!

As far as cleaning the perlite, you can keep the top from growing algae, at least for the most part, by using strips of weed blocker cloth laid over the surface. Alternatively you can line the reservoir with said cloth, cutting it long enough that it can be draped over the surface and scrunched around the pots, effectively cutting off the light source that would cause algae to grow. The algae may be unsightly to you (I don't mind it at all) but it causes no problem whatsoever for the SWICK.

When you finish a harvest it's a simple matter to scrape the roots that found their way into the perlite off the pots. Real easy cleanup, as documented in my first journal. I can link it if you want to see it. Just ask.

If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Jamba - thanks bud. :love:
 

36Gr0w

Nug of the Month: May 2015
Love the kiddie pool!! I'm six bucks into my perlite containers,, or I'd do that. You have that in a 4x4 right 36Gr0w?

Got my lava yesterday,, I like it, wish I had it in this run....Will be in the next!!
Yup in a 4x4 tent. 3 corners outside the swick have 1gals.
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Maybe I should use the lid of the tote and a SWICK container for the entire 12 plants :50:
The first thing I thought is to add more perlite to those bowls DrZiggy. A shallow reservoir needs replenished more frequently and one of the chief benefits of the SWICK is the freedom it gives you. Looking at that tote lid... if you lined it with weed blocker cloth to contain the perlite you could get a decent layer of the perlite in there. With some type of tube in there to keep an eye on the water level (see Jamba's post) you might be able to use that top for all 12 just as it is. If you cut the fabric long enough it can be scrunched around the pots to keep the algae down.

I like the way you don't waste any time Zig.
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Looking at it again, forget about the fabric. The algae isn't a problem if you don't mind the look of it. You should have no problem just filling this baby with perlite and set the pots right into it. Put as much perlite as you can into it. Get all the advantage you can out of it.

I'll watch for updated pictures. :laugh2::green_heart:
 

DrZiggy

Member of the Month: April 2016
The first thing I thought is to add more perlite to those bowls DrZiggy. A shallow reservoir needs replenished more frequently and one of the chief benefits of the SWICK is the freedom it gives you. Looking at that tote lid... if you lined it with weed blocker cloth to contain the perlite you could get a decent layer of the perlite in there. With some type of tube in there to keep an eye on the water level (see Jamba's post) you might be able to use that top for all 12 just as it is. If you cut the fabric long enough it can be scrunched around the pots to keep the algae down.

I like the way you don't waste any time Zig.
TY, Sue. I will add some more perlite to the 2 i have and do the fabric idea this week. :) I need to get a large bag of perlite.
 
Top Bottom