A hydroponic bucket is a modified plastic bucket used for hydroponic gardening. They are sometimes molded with modifications integral to the design but any standard bucket may be altered for use as a hydroponic culture container. Several hydroponic bucket designs are available on the market, including a variety of sizes and adaptations for many hydroponic applications. They are generally inexpensive, lightweight and durable.
Hydroponic gardening is sometimes called soilless gardening. This is a little bit misleading as some growing media used for hydroponics are made up of or include things found in common topsoil or potting soil such as is available at the local garden center. Hydroponic media, however, lack any type of organic material and have no available nutrients for the plants. A number of substances may be used for hydroponic growing media including sand, vermiculite, perlite, gravel or man-made materials like rockwool.
Plants under hydroponic culture receive their nutrients by absorbing them directly from a nutrient solution. Carefully formulated hydroponic formulas are dissolved in water and provide every nutritive need of the plants. This nutrient solution is then pumped to the plants, which are arranged in large communal trays or individual containers.
One type of individual container is a hydroponic bucket. Buckets of this type sometimes have raised bottoms with screens to prevent roots from clogging the outlet, which is usually a drain in the form of a small-diameter plastic pipe that carries the solution back to the reservoir where it is recycled and pumped back to the plants.
Although containers for hydroponic culture are readily available from any one of many on-line hydroponics equipment suppliers, the enterprising grower can easily construct his own hydroponic bucket. Larger buckets, like the five gallon buckets commonly used in food service are often available for the asking at local restaurants. The simple addition of a fitting for a drain pipe to connect the bucket to the nutrient circulation system is easily accomplished with a few supplies available at any home improvement stores, which also usually carry large buckets like this for a few dollars.
To make a hydroponic bucket, a drill, razor or hobby knife, PVC pipe connector, epoxy and silicone caulk are all that is required. A hole the size of the pipe connector is drilled into the side of the bucket as close to the bottom as possible and trimmed smooth with the hobby knife. Then the connector is glued into the bucket with the epoxy, so that half of it protrudes outside the bucket, allowing PVC pipe to be connected later. Silicone caulk is then applied around the fitting to seal it and the hydroponic bucket is ready for use.