This is a guide to making a homemade hydroponic system. It is a static solution, lettuce raft-type system as discussed in An Introduction to General Hydroponic Systems.
This style was chosen because it is a relatively cheap and easy system to make, while still offering flexibility in what you can grow and allowing you to grow multiple plants at once. It’s a great system for growing organic vegetables in a comfortable setting and not having to worry about pests or weeds.
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Okay. Let’s begin!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
1) A container to house your reservoir of nutrient solution. This can be a fish tank or some other large, rectangular container.
2) A piece of Styrofoam larger than the top of your container. It should be around 1 inch thick, but this does not need to be exact.
3) A small knife, such as a Swiss Army knife, to cut the Styrofoam.
4) Net pots that will house your plants.
5) A nutrient solution. These are available for purchase, and a recipe for making one will be supplied later.
6) An air pump, air tube and air stone. These will be used to make sure there is always sufficient oxygen in your nutrient solution.
7) The plants or seeds you wish to grow.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER:
1) First, we will need to prepare our container to hold the water reservoir. It is very important that the container be opaque (does not let any light in). The presence of sunlight will encourage the growth of algae, which will steal oxygen and nutrients from your plants, stunting their progress and possibly even killing them. If your container is transparent (such as a fish tank) spray painting it black or covering it with a garbage bag should do the trick.
2) Next, we need to prepare our raft. Take the Styrofoam and using your knife, cut it into a rectangle that is about ¼ and inch smaller on each side than the opening of your container. So let’s say you used an aquarium with an opening that is 12 inches x 14 inches. You would cut your Styrofoam into a rectangle 11 ¾ inches x 13 ¾ inches.
3) Now you need to cut holes in the Styrofoam for your net pots. Place them on the Styrofoam and use a pencil to trace around their base. Keep some distance between them, both to maintain the structural integrity of the Styrofoam and to give your plants some space to receive sunlight and grow. Use your knife to cut out the circles where your pots will sit.
4) Near one of the ends of the Styrofoam, cut a small hole that will allow you to run an air tube into the water.
5) Place the air stone at the bottom of your container/tank. Place the air pump outside of the container, and connect the two with the air tube.
6) Fill the container up with water/nutrient solution. Fill most of the container, but still leaving some space for your raft.
7) Place your Styrofoam raft on top of the water in your tank. Allow the air tube to fit through the small hole you cut.
8) Put your plants and the chosen growing medium into the net pots.
9) Place the net pots into the holes in the Styrofoam.
10) Turn on your air pump, and your hydroponic system is ready to go!
Good luck and stay prepared!