Have you ever tried to enter the world of hydroponics but never did it because you thought that it would be very expensive?
Now you don’t have an excuse! I’ve prepared a howto using (almost) the cheapest parts that I could get. This was not meant to grow large plants but small ones will do just fine. In my case I intend to grow chilli peppers so this kit is great!
And this is what you need:
- Small flower box including the water plate. It is important that the water plate fits perfectly on top of the flower box (just like a lid).
- Some plastic cups
- Air pump
- Plastic tubing
- Air Stone diffuser
- Tools ( Electric driller, hole saw, duct tape, sharp knife, etc)
- Perlite & Vermiculite (you can use rock wool or any other substrate)
Try to buy a hole saw with the same diameter as the plastic cups that you are going to use (or vice versa). This will make things easier, trust me!
All of this stuff cost me about 16 euros excluding tools. I would say that 16 euros for a complete hydroponics system ( flower box + water plate= 5€, plastic tubing=1€, air stone=2€, perlite and vermiculite=2€, air pump=5€, plastic cups=1€) is a good price, don’t you think?
I could even make it cheaper by using a plastic bucket but I think that things should also look pretty 😛
The assembly is easy:
1. Take the water plate and put the plastic cups on top of it. Try to rearrange them to optimize the space. In my case I think that 9 plastic cups should be the maximum quantity to be supported.
2. Get a ruler and some duct tape and divide the water plate in rows and columns. I used the duct tape to draw a line to split the water plate in two parts. Then, I divided the two parts in 4 columns each, marked the center of each column and started to drill using the hole saw. Word of advice: To use too much force when drilling because that can make the water plate shatter. Take your time drilling…
3. Clear all the parts. Remove all the duct tape and rinse parts in water. If you feel that you have some sharp edges you can use some sand paper or a sharp knife to smooth things up. Make a small hole (5mm is enough) to pass the air hose to the inside. This hole should be done near a corner so it doesn’t bother any plant. And now you’re ready to test the fittings! Place each cup in a hole and check that it fits without a problem. We are almost done!
4. Get a small piece of wire and heat it up. You can use a butane lighter, an oven, etc. Just make sure that it is enough to melt plastic. Grab a plastic cup and use the wire to do a few holes on the sides and bottom. You should keep the upper part of the plastic cup intact. After this you can fill it up with your favorite substrate. I used a 50/50 solution of perlite/vermiculite but fill free to use other things. I like perlite because it lets air pass through easily and vermiculite retains water pretty well.
5. Fill the flower box up to 2/3 of its height. In the end you should have half of the plastic cups under water. More than that and the cup will get completely soaked. Pass the air hose throught the previously made hole and install the air stone in the end of it. The other end of the hose should be connected to the air pump. Turn it on to see it releasing air bubbles. Now all you have to do is plant your favorite seeds and wait!
There you go! Now you have your own hydroponics system ready to be used! Enjoy!