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Making Homemade Hydrophonics System

Written by Paulo Martirez on Sunday, July 22, 2007

Do you love to grow plants or vegetables but don't have available soil in your backyard? Well why not try "Hydrophonics"! To some this may seem new but this type of gardening system has been around for thousands of years and was used by ancient egyptians to grow their gardens. "Hydrophonics" is a system where you can grow plants or vegetables without the need of soil.

A homemade hydroponics system like what I will share with you below is not ideal for a large scale production or commercial usage but ideal in your home. This type of system is best for water loving plants such as lettuce.

Materials Needed:
• External pump
• Air line/tubing
• Air stones
• Water proof bin, bucket, fish tank to use as a reservoir
• StyroFoam
• Mesh Pots
• Growing medium - Rockwool, Grow rocks, et
• Hydroponics nutrients - (Grow formula, Bloom formula, Supplements, Ph)
• Black spray paint, paint - * Only required if reservoir is transparent
• Sharp object - Knife, box cutter, scissors (This is not a task for minors - Get help from an adult)

1. Find a container to use as a reservoir such as a fish tank or a bin/bucket of some sort. The reservoir should be painted black if it is not light proof. Allowing light to enter the reservoir will promote the growth of algae. It is a good idea to use a reservoir that is the same dimensions (length x width) from top to bottom (Example: Top: 36"x20" Bottom: 36"x20").

2. If possible, use a fish tank or similar container as your reservoir. Spray paint tank (if translucent) to black and let dry. Using a knife or sharp object, score a line on the tank (scratch off some paint in a straight line from top to bottom) which will be your water level meter (Allow you to see how much water is in reservoir). Creating this line, however, is not necessary as you can determine how much water is in the reservoir simply by see how far down the floater (StyroFoam) has sunk. Adding the line gives a more accurate and convenient view of the nutrient solution level.

3. Use a tape measure to get the length and width of your reservoir. Measure from inside of the reservoir from one end to the other. Once you have the dimensions, cut the StyroFoam 1/4" (inch) smaller than the size of the reservoir. For example, if your dimensions are 36" in length and 20" in width you should cut the StyroFoam to 35 3/4" x 19 3/4". The StyroFoam should fix nicely, with just enough room to adjust to water level changes.

4. lf the reservoir tapers off at the bottom (the bottom is smaller in dimension than the top) the floater (StyroFoam) should be 2"-4" smaller than the reservoir, or more if necessary.

5. Do not place StyroFoam in reservoir yet! First, you need to cut the holes for the net pots. Put the net pots on the StyroFoam where you want to place each plant. Using a pen or pencil, trace around the bottom of the net pots. Use a sharp tool such as a knife or box cutter to follow the trace lines and cut the holes for pots. (KIDS!!! Get help from an adult). On one end of the StyroFoam (any end), cut a small hole for the air line to run into the reservoir.

6. The amount of plants you can grow will depend on the size of the garden you build and the types of crops you grow. Remember to space plants appropriately so the each receive ample amounts of light.

7. The pump you choose must be strong enough to provide enough oxygen to sustain plants. Ask for a help choosing a pump at your local hydroponics supply store. Telling them the size of your reservoir (In gallons - 2, 5, 10 gallons, et) and they should be able to make a recommendation.

8. Connect the air line to the pump and attach the air stone to the free end. The air line should be long enough to travel from the pump into the bottom of the reservoir or at least float in the middle some where so the oxygen bubbles can get to the roots. It also must be the right size for the pump you choose. Most pumps will come with the correct size air line. To make your best guest, use a one gallon bucked/bottle or any container that you know the capacity and fill the reservoir.

9. Remember to count how much it takes to fill the reservoir and you will know the capacity of your reservoir.

Setting Up:
1. Fill reservoir with nutrient solution
2. Place the StyroFoam in tank
3. Run the air line through the designated hole/notch.
4. Fill the net pots with growing medium and place one plant in each pot.
5. Put the net pots into the designated holes in StyroFoam.
6. Turn on/plug-in pump and start growing with your fully functional, homemade hydroponics system.

Note: Before you get started... your system is only one piece of the indoor gardening puzzle. You must have control over the environment you place your garden into, and this environment must be to the plants liking. In addition, you will have a much better chance at success once you learn the exact nutrient requirements (and therefore the exact feeding) of your plants at every stage of their development. In order to meet these feeding requirements, you must learn how to properly maintain nutrient solution in a reservoir. Learn these things and you'll be more successful.

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