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SWICK Watering Systems: Letting The Plant Water Itself

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
Thanx Greenjean.

You’ll see there’s not much of my own innovation here, rather I’ve cherry picked small bits that fit my needs from several contributors of this thread.


There was a lot of discussion concerning a variety of possibilities for basins. The one that caught my attention was a couple of posts suggesting construction of a custom sized unit using 2X? lumber.

This was perfect for maximizing the floor space afforded by my grow box. I used to be an avid woodworker. While the passion has dimmed somewhat, the shop is still fully intact and I have a mountain of lumber. Grabbed some random 3/4” plywood and whipped up nifty box to fit my space well. The interior measures 20”X40”X6” deep.

I used some 40 mil vinyl shower pan material to line it with. Probably a bit of an overkill but I didn’t want to worry about possible leaks.


To be continued........
 

bobrown14

Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017
Could look into using drain trays lots of folks use for growing in. They have a decent height side wall. The PVC for showers is pretty thick harder to work with.

I read some research that plants that have unfettered supply of water gain 30% more biomass than plants that are hand watered.
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
Thanx Bobrown. Appreciate the suggestion but actually it was pretty easy-peasy. After conquering the corner folds everything was straight forward. I’ll have to fess up though, I’ve had a good bit of experience with this vinyl. I’ve built several free form walk-in showers.

The advantage I was seeking was the ability to utilize the entire floor space and maintain a common basin with a custom sized unit.

The research you ferreted out is most interesting. I’m presently on my fourth attempt with this system. The first two failed and I’ll expound on that a bit later. With the third garden I made a concerted effort to restrict growth by using a 12/12 light regimen from seed and using a 1 gal rag bag. To my surprise, one of the plants was a personal record for me; grew to about 4’.

Still a lot to learn!
 

bobrown14

Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017
Right on - I'm a retired tile and stone designer and ran install crews for many years. Did my fair share of drain pans. Fun stuff if you know how to work with it.

Experience is definitely a good thing. Did my fair share of rip outs due to leaky seams, corners and thresholds.

My dream is a grow room with 12' ceilings cement floors and floor drains.

Of course neighbors that I cant see even if I was standing on the roof looking for them. lol Unless the neighbors are deer.

Once retired, gardening is my new old hobby. You need grow tips for soil growing I can definitely help.
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
Right on - I'm a retired tile and stone designer and ran install crews for many years. Did my fair share of drain pans. Fun stuff if you know how to work with it.

Experience is definitely a good thing. Did my fair share of rip outs due to leaky seams, corners and thresholds.

My dream is a grow room with 12' ceilings cement floors and floor drains.

Of course neighbors that I cant see even if I was standing on the roof looking for them. lol Unless the neighbors are deer.

Once retired, gardening is my new old hobby. You need grow tips for soil growing I can definitely help.
Man after my own heart. Nothing better than seclusion! I’m 1/3 of a mile off the road in the middle of a 60 acre (mostly wooded) tract of land. I don’t think I could readjust to nearby neighbors.
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member

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

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
The basin is just shy of 3 cu ft. but I still felt it probably wasn’t capable of holding enough water/nutrients to maintain my garden for my frequent 3+ week long absences. A separate reservoir with an automated replenishing system was a necessity.


I was able to source a cheap float from Mr Jeff Bezo’s online hardware store for about $8. I fashioned a cage to surround it from a small piece of hardware cloth (close mesh wire fabric) and covered it in landscape fabric. This keeps the perlite from fouling the float mechanism. The hose is a piece of drinking water safe rv supply line.


The reservoir is a plastic barrel that is external to the cabinet. Initially it was 55 gal but for this grow I’ve downsized to a 20 gal unit.

I’m using FloraNova Bloom and I’m not sure if it creates a solution or suspension. A suspension is susceptible to settlement over extended storage periods and I felt some type of stirring system would be prudent. Stirring through the small bung hole offered challenges. My solution was to drill a small hole in the top of the drum and drop a plastic toilet supply line. I attached a short piece of air hose with a quick disconnect nipple to it. Now I can occasionally hook up my air compressor to it, blow air through it from the bottom and give it a good stir job.

So there’s the basic run down on the hardware. I ran into some serious problems trying to get things dialed in. I’ll share my trials, tribulations and solutions shortly.

To be continued............
 
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Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
How's that float mechanism working for ya. Any clogs or short-falls.

I looked at that as well as a timer to fill my water res but I didn't feel comfortable with a float or a timer (I'm water only in my res).


Very reliable. Not the first glitch. I wasn’t expecting much for that price but it’s worked like a charm. It seals well and doesn’t leak at all. Even a slow drip could run the basin over eventually. It keeps the level spot on with no variance at all. Never a clog. Been totally bullet proof thus far.

Conversely, when I was using top emitters, pump and timer it was a constant headache. I had to put 3 emitters in each pot with hopes at least one wasn’t clogged by the time I returned. Two pond pumps crapped out and I had a timer to lock on and drain my reservoir. No comparison to the reliability of the float system.

And if you’re using straight water, you could hook it up directly to the faucet via water hose if that would be more convenient than a reservoir.
 

bobrown14

Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017
Thanks - I run a RO system into my reservoir currently and can hook one of them up like you have there. Thanks for the review and the link.

I'm going to be setting up a new res in the next few months. I like the mechanical float system for sure. What I'm using now still has a few hic-ups. IF I let the res run dry the worms start straying and look for the water source and clog the valve then when I re-fill I get a little more water than I bargained for.

Easy enough just dont let the res run dry. Only happens when I'm out of town. lol
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
When I read through this thread, I found that the vast majority of contributors were using soil of various types. I recall someone made mention of a modified swick system that he was using coco but there was little detail.

When Radogast made this post I was extremely apprehensive about progressing with my plan of feeding the plants through the swick system:



“When growing with nutrient pour coco and nutrient rich water, you want 10-20% runoff from watering to remove the salts from the soil and the water. If that runoff collects in a swick and evaporates you are likely to get high levels of nutrients/salts that are bad for your plants. You also might get stuff growing in your SWICK.



You could do the nutrient watering above a tray and discard the runoff - like normal. Then use a SWICK of plain water to extend the time between waterings, but that seems like a lot of trouble for a small benefit of keeping the soil moist. I don't like to keep the soil moist until flower, and flower is when plants demand more nutrients.



For me, a SWICK and liquid nutrients / coco grow seems like a lot of trouble for very little benefit.



A SWICK does not need to be saved for "organic" soil, but it works best for nutrient rich soil.”



And then this second by Sweetsue:

“I agree with Rad. This system works best with a well-aerated organic soil.”

My biggest concern was the ability to feed through the swick. If this proved prohibitive it would be a deal breaker for me.

For my first attempt I opted for a compromise by using Bush Doctor Coco Loco but did choose to feed additional nutrients through the swick. I had three plants and they got off to a roaring start. When I returned from a two week trip I found my plants looking poorly. A little investigation showed they were suffering from severe stem rot at ground level. I thought this a bit odd since the fabric pots nor the Coco Loco seemed excessively moist.

Take two: the only change I made was to go back to a straight coco/perlite mixture. At the 3-4 week mark my single plant suffered the same fate. Again, the medium didn’t appear to be overly moist. At this point I was scratching my a$$ and talking to myself!?! I pulled everything out and placed it on my work bench and started dissecting. I found that while the coco/perlite mixture wasn’t overly moist, the rapid rooter I used to germinate the seed was wet enough I could squeeze water out of it.

Feeling I had diagnosed the problem, I proceeded to take three! I don’t give up easily. I went back to my 1 gal fabric pots full of coco/perlite and continued feeding full strength FloraNova Bloom through the swick. I omitted the rapid rooter and placed the sprouted seeds directly in the pots. Stem rot problem resolved.

One of my plants amazed me by reaching a height of about 4’. And yes, that was from a 1 gal container. I have 1,5 and 7 gal bags and it’s been my observation that plant size is not directly proportional to the container size when growing in coco! While not the most productive plant I’ve ever grown it was the most massive. Even being super selective at harvest, however, I did reap better than two and a half quarts of premo bud from the larger plant.

While I was pleased with the results of the third trial, it wasn’t problem free. I had to make more adjustments than I would have preferred to maintain proper moisture content to the plants. I varied the water level from 2-4” in the 6” basin. In spite of this, in the early stages I had to actually place some Reflectix under the pots to reduce the contact area. In the latter stages, conversely, I had to actually burrow the pot down into the perlite to maintain proper moisture levels.

Now capitalizing on my mistakes, I’m in my 4th swick garden. I’ll give details of the progress shortly.

To be continued........
 

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 can’t express enough thanks for the insightful review of your attempts to dial this in. Learning in front of everyone is so valuable for those who come behind us.

Good call on the Rapid Rooters. I never had that problem with mine, but I went into LOS when I was using soil. I wonder if it was the coco in your mix that caused the RRs to stay so moist? :hmmmm:
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
Before I get started with the details of my fourth grow, despite the hiccups I encountered, in my opinion the swick system is a great companion to coco/perlite medium and feeding nutrients through the swick is absolutely doable if you’re patient enough to get it dialed in.

In the past, when I was top feeding my garden through emitters, the outside of the fabric bags constantly had the white crystalline buildup. I found it surprising that this buildup was never evident on any of my bags while on the swick.

My initial reservoir was filled with about 50 gal of nutrient solution mixed at full strength; 5ml/gal. This was more than enough to support my two failed gardens plus the last one that I was able to complete. The nutrient mixture remained viable throughout this period. I think the repetitive aeration with my air compressor may have been helpful in keeping it stable.

With the three grow attempts and an extended absence, my reservoir and basin went undisturbed for about six months. When I finally broke it down for a thorough cleaning, I was expecting to find a lot of yucky stuff awaiting. To my pleasant surprise, absent was the slime I had often experienced with my top feed reservoirs. There was no evidence of salts crystals. No algae growth or residue of any kind. Throughout the grows I kept any exposed surface area of the perlite covered with Reflectix which I think was a contributing factor.

Nutrient feeding through the swick system offered no adverse effects.

To be continued...........
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
I can’t express enough thanks for the insightful review of your attempts to dial this in. Learning in front of everyone is so valuable for those who come behind us.

Good call on the Rapid Rooters. I never had that problem with mine, but I went into LOS when I was using soil. I wonder if it was the coco in your mix that caused the RRs to stay so moist? :hmmmm:
Thanx,Sue, for the kind words.

I can’t offer a firm analytical answer for the problem with the rapid rooters. I always used them in conjunction with coco when I top fed the plants and never experienced a problem.

When I was top feeding, I was on an automated system set to water every 8 hours. Theoretically, after each watering, the medium, and rapid rooter, had a short time to slightly dry out. With the swick, especially with my self replinshing basin, the moisture content is dead steady, never varying at all. By the nature of its composition, the rapid rooter is designed to readily absorb and hold moisture. I can only assume the presence of consistent moisture is the contributing factor.

This reasoning is a bit of a stretch but it’s the only variable that I recognize between the two systems I’ve used.
 

lazylathe

Member
Reviving this thread!
After growing for many years and always struggling with watering, I have been devouring this thread and everything else I can find on SIP and SWICKS.
My new grow will be using a 4FT X 4FT X 6 inch frame that is lined with heavy duty, thick plastic. It has been stapled around the outside to keep it in place while ensuring there is room for expansion when the perlite and water is added.

I will be using 7 gallon fabric pots with a blend of old soil and a bunch of amendments:
StepWell soil as the base - Used for one round of autoflowers.
A small amount of Promix Organic seedling mix - Also from first grow so most of the nutes are gone.
Large bag of earth worm casting
Medium bag of local, organic compost
Gaia Green 4-4-4 - General amendment
Gaia Green Glacial Rock Dust
Myco's from Myke
Blood Meal
Bone Meal
1/4 of a Canna Coco brick
Pure Hen manure - small amount sprinkled on and mixed well. +- 15 grams
Bat Guano - Small amount sprinkled and mixed well. +-15 grams

This was all watered with ph"d RO water and EM1 for the microbes to feast on.

My soil container holds 40 gallons and is kept in my basement. It is cool down there so no chance for microbes to be active, so I turned on my small oil filled heater and now the soil is warming up nicely. I will turn it every few days to keep the soil loose and airy. Should be ready in a month or so.
Also thinking of adding another bag of perlite to the soil and possibly a layer of perlite on the bottom of the fabric pot for better wicking, not sure though.

The perlite frame took up most of my floor space in my grow room, so i had to rig up a wall mount for my fan...
Came out quite nicely and solves that issue and also will cool my LED panel down.

For this first grow with this system, I will be doing some bag seed from some amazing bud I purchased a while ago.
Strains will be Pink Kush and Animal Face, 5 PK seeds and 1 AF seed, so who know what will germinate!
If they do not do well, I will replace them with some of my Sannie's Seeds, either Sannie's Jack or Killing Fields.

I am still looking into brewing my own teas and all that equipment but for now will be using Botanicare Compost tea which works very nicely. I will also most likely need to add cal/mag due to the LED but hopefully the amendments take care of that for the grow.

Once the pots are filled and ready to be placed on the SWICK, I will lay some reflective foil over the SWICK and cut holes for the pots to fit in. Trying to keep it nice and tidy looking...LOL!

Lighting is by my Chinese 480 Watt at the wall HLG clone panel. Super bright, white light with a dimmer. A nice upgrade from my old blurple lights...
It really seems to blow up the trichome production and gives sparkly buds.

I am also still reading up on Gro Kashi/ Bo Kashi and deciding if I want a cover crop or not or to use some straw or barley straw...
So much reading to do and I just want to grow! LOL!

We have guests coming for a week in a few weeks time, so will have to wait for them to leave.

Hope this thread comes back to life again!

EDIT:
Seems like I ordered some Bokashi...Earlier today! LMAO! I love stoner Sundays!

EDIT 2 to add some pictures.
The lined SWICK box in my grow room.


Notice the lack of floor space, the heater just fits! Had to relocate my fan to the wall.
 
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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
WooHoo! I’d been hoping someone would start a SWICK! :yahoo:

I’d add another bag of perlite to the soil if it were my grow. The soil wicks better with the additional aeration.

SWICK made my soil growing so simple and the plants so luscious it deserves another grand showing. I look forward to watching your garden bloom @lazylathe. :4:

Welcome to some real growing fun. :3:
 

Bucudinkydow

Well-Known Member
Welcome aboard, lazylathe.

I found the Reflectix key in keeping the perlite basin healthy. Amazing how long it stays stable by keeping the light off of it.

I’ve never used soil but using the 7 gal rag bags has added great stability to my coco/perlite mixture. My basin is 6” deep and I keep the water level at 4”. The exterior of my bags remain moist 1/3-1/2 way up. Seems to be a happy place for the plants. With the 1 gal bags, I was constantly having to make adjustments for some reason.

In spite of my minimalistic approach to gardening, the results with the swick system has been very satisfying. I’m using cheap screw in LED’s on a 12/12 from seed light schedule with a single nutrient; FloraNova Bloom at full strength from the start. While I failed to take any more pix of the plant I had growing back in July, it finished off great and I had a good harvest.
This is my present grow at 6 weeks under 7) 10.5w SIL at 12/12 from seed. It measured 34” at that time. It’s just showing initial signs of flowering. I was in hopes the 12/12 from seed schedule would coax the plant into early flowering but it’s not been the case. This is the third “successful” attempt I’ve had and each one didn’t start flower stage until about 6 weeks.
This is a new lighting option I’m trying. There’s ten 18w 4’ led tubes here. I’m hoping it’s going to influence the lower buds into producing a bit better. I’m a little concerned about the anemic 25w/sqft coverage. May be a bust but the plant grew an additional 6” in the first 4 days after the transition.

We left 10/18 and won’t be returning until 11/5. Anxious to see the results.


Wishing you much success with your new system.
 

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
Welcome aboard, lazylathe.

I found the Reflectix key in keeping the perlite basin healthy. Amazing how long it stays stable by keeping the light off of it.

I’ve never used soil but using the 7 gal rag bags has added great stability to my coco/perlite mixture. My basin is 6” deep and I keep the water level at 4”. The exterior of my bags remain moist 1/3-1/2 way up. Seems to be a happy place for the plants. With the 1 gal bags, I was constantly having to make adjustments for some reason.

In spite of my minimalistic approach to gardening, the results with the swick system has been very satisfying. I’m using cheap screw in LED’s on a 12/12 from seed light schedule with a single nutrient; FloraNova Bloom at full strength from the start. While I failed to take any more pix of the plant I had growing back in July, it finished off great and I had a good harvest.
This is my present grow at 6 weeks under 7) 10.5w SIL at 12/12 from seed. It measured 34” at that time. It’s just showing initial signs of flowering. I was in hopes the 12/12 from seed schedule would coax the plant into early flowering but it’s not been the case. This is the third “successful” attempt I’ve had and each one didn’t start flower stage until about 6 weeks.
This is a new lighting option I’m trying. There’s ten 18w 4’ led tubes here. I’m hoping it’s going to influence the lower buds into producing a bit better. I’m a little concerned about the anemic 25w/sqft coverage. May be a bust but the plant grew an additional 6” in the first 4 days after the transition.

We left 10/18 and won’t be returning until 11/5. Anxious to see the results.


Wishing you much success with your new system.
My first grow was done with screw-in bulbs. :3: Most were 23W with some 40W bulbs over the tips of each plant. I had about 300W going in there by the end. It was the most fun ever to keep those bulbs moving around the plant. :laugh2:

Your plants look luscious. :high-five:
 
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