Make your own DIY hydroponics for indoor gardening and grow your own food all year long!
RELATED: Make A (Nearly) Self-Sufficient Indoor Garden With Aquaponics
In this article:
- Indoor Gardening with a DIY Hydroponics System
- The Water Culture System
- 8 Steps to Make a DIY Hydroponics System
How to Build a DIY Hydroponics System
Indoor Gardening with a DIY Hydroponics System
In my previous article on indoor gardening, I covered all the steps necessary for every gardener to have the perfect indoor garden.
With an indoor garden, you have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs all year-round! Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Now, let’s talk about another form of indoor gardening — hydroponics. Some of you may be wondering what exactly hydroponics is.
The true definition of hydroponics is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.
The Water Culture System
There are different types of hydroponic systems that produce different results. Let’s start with the least difficult system: the water culture hydroponic system.
A hydroponics water culture system is a low cost, easy-to-build option. It results in your plants being suspended in water by a Styrofoam platform.
The water will be filled with a nutrient solution. You can grow 5-6 plants per 5 gallons (18.9 L) water culture system.
In my research to bring the best, most detailed information, I found a great DIY hydroponics project to build your very own hydroponics water culture system. I will take you to step by step for this awesome family project!
8 Steps to Make a DIY Hydroponics System
- Finding a container to use as a reservoir such as a fish tank or a bin/bucket.
- Using the fish tank or similar container as your reservoir.
- Using a tape measure to get the length and width of your reservoir.
- Cutting the holes for the net pots.
- How many plants you’ll be able to grow.
- Choosing a pump.
- Connecting the airline to the pump and attaching the air stone to the free end.
- Setting up the hydroponics system.
RELATED: Grow Your Garden All Year Long With An Indoor Garden
Now, let’s begin!
1. Pick the Perfect Container[instagram url=https://www.instagram.com/p/BwD-UDIHp9h/ hidecaption=true width=625] First, find a light-proof container and the one above works great. If it’s not light-proof, paint the reservoir black or cover it with a black trash bag.
2. Use the Container as Reservoir
Light entering the reservoir will promote the growth of algae, stealing oxygen and nutrients from your other plants. It’s best to use a reservoir that is the same dimensions from top to bottom (for example, the top and bottom of the container are both 36″ x 20″).
3. Measure the Container
Using a tape measure, measure the inside of the reservoir from one end to the other.
Once you have your dimensions and you’re sure they’re correct, cut your Styrofoam 1/4″ smaller than the size of the reservoir (For example, if your reservoir is 36″ x 20″, the Styrofoam should be 35 3/4″ x 19 3/4″).
If the reservoir tapers off at the bottom, the Styrofoam should be 2″-4″ smaller than the reservoir.
If you cut it to the correct size, the Styrofoam should fit nicely with just enough room to adjust to changes in water level.
4. Cut Holes for Your Net Pots
Before you place your Styrofoam in the reservoir, you need to cut the holes for your net pots.
Put the net pots in the Styrofoam where you want to place each plant. Then, use a pen or pencil to trace around the bottom of the net pots.
Use a sharp tool (like a knife or box cutter) to follow the lines you traced and cut holes for your pots.
Then, on one end of the Styrofoam, cut a small hole for the airline.
5. Decide How Many Plants to Grow
The number of plants you will grow in your DIY hydroponics will depend on:
- The size of your garden
- The types of plants you want to grow
Do your research on how much room your chosen plants need to grow. Space your plants so they have plenty of room and receive ample light.
6. Choose a Pump
A pump for your hydroponics garden can be purchased online or at a garden supply store.
Make sure the pump you choose is strong enough to provide enough oxygen to sustain your plants. If needed, ask for advice at your local garden or hydroponics supply store.
Tell them the size of your reservoir in gallons. They should be able to recommend a pump to fit your needs.
7. Set Up Airline and Pump
The airline should be long enough to travel from your pump to the bottom of your reservoir, or at least float in the middle so the oxygen bubbles can reach the roots of your plants.
Most pumps will come with their own airline; if not, make sure the one you purchase is the right size.
8. Set Up the Hydroponics System[instagram url=https://www.instagram.com/p/BwDQ29UHzwx/ hidecaption=true width=625] Now that you’ve got all your supplies, it’s time to set up your system. Here’s how:
- Fill the reservoir with nutrient solution
- Place the Styrofoam in the tank
- Run the airline through the designated hole/notch
- Fill the net pots with growing medium and place one plant in each pot
- Put the net pots into the designated holes in Styrofoam
- Turn on/plug-in pump and start growing with your homemade hydroponics system
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This video from Soothing Leaf will show you DIY hydroponics systems using mason jars:
Learn hydroponic basics, experiment on it, and add another self-sufficiency skill you can use for life. You can make use of this knowledge on an indoor hydroponic system today or prepare for when SHTF.
This basic method should guide you to your bigger plans in case you want a full-blown indoor hydroponic garden using this DIY hydroponics method!
If you have had great success with building your own DIY hydroponics system, we would love to hear from you! Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 3, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
A viable alternative to the pump system is a “non-circulating hydroponics system”. Plenty of ideas on the internet. Because the non-circulating system does not require power, it is immune to grid down issues. The system was pioneered by Kratky (Hawaii). Try: http://www.instructables.com/id/Kratkys-non-circulating-hydroponics/ for a simple explanation.
I have had eight 4 gallon beds running continuously for 3 years and produced kale, swiss chard, basil, mustard, cilantro and parsley – through summer and winter. You must guard against freezing, but this system can be used in a basement, garage, spare room or greenhouse.