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Dutch Bucket Help!

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Old 06-24-2017, 06:13 PM
wlai wlai is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1
Default Dutch Bucket Help!

I'm having trouble with my dutch bucket setup. I have the below setup:

The pump has adequate head as it's 160GPH at 4.0 ft and this is less.

When I first start the pump the flow is good. However it'll start losing flow gradually after about 30 mins, and eventually dries up. Turning off and restarting the pump will restore the flow. I'm running the pump constantly.

I've tried various things, thinking it has to do with trapped air. For example, sometimes when I wiggle the pump when I can feel it vibrating but not pumping water, there will be some air bubbles come out of the body. I've also tried adjusting the high point of the 1/2" horizontal pipe, with out success.

As the summer starts going and I am not home to constantly restart the pump, I'm afraid I'm going to lose the tomatoes. Any clues and hints on what to diagnose and look for?

Thanks in advance,


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Old 06-26-2017, 04:40 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
Posts: 1,855

Hello William,
First question I have is how do you kn ow the pump is adequate? GPH has very little to do with a pump being adequate. Second is I'm a bit confused by your diagram. Is the water feed ling going through the bottom of the buckets?
Lastly, according to your diagram you have three vertical feed lines. One going to each bucket. That may very well cause a problem, especially allowing air to get in the feed lines.

If it were me I would have the main feed line (one line) coming from the pump pumping above the buckets. Then running the three feed lines to each bucket from above. So instead of having three tubes trying to pump water up fighting back pressure in all three tubes. You only have one tube going up hill, and gravity feeds/flows downhill to all three buckets. Eliminating the possibility of pressure equalization issues and air getting into the lines.
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:29 AM
Stan Stan is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 149

Sorry I'm late with a reply to this post. I have grown using the Dutch bucket system and GpsFrontier was absolutely correct with his reply. Run the 1/2 feed pipe level with the tops of the buckets then run feed lines directly to the plants. The return piping should be located very slightly below the buckets on an angle towards the reservoir. Also why do you feel the need to run the pump constantly or even for 30minutes? If you're using the system in your home no need to run the pump that long. If you are growing outdoors here's what I did.

On a hot summer day I would only run for 8 minutes on 20+ minutes off. If it was a really brutal day of 90 degrees + with 80% humidity it would turn on around every 12 minutes. On cooler days in low 80's or upper 70's I would run 5 minutes on 30 minutes off. You can play around with it and see what works good for you by observing the plants and make sure they look good. If they look like they need more water just adjust more time for watering. Keep a log book on what cycle you're using and the temperatures for each day. You will eventually see a pattern that you can adjust when the temperature changes.

If growing indoors you should still keep a log book of the cycles you're using and adjust it till you find what the plants look happier with.

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