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Project

How to Build a Hydroponic Garden

Introduction

Hydroponics is a specialized type of gardening that grows plants in soil-free nutrient solutions. An economical, environmentally friendly, and sustainable way to produce food, hydroponic gardens are grown in a controlled environment, so require only basic agriculture skills.

Here, University of Arizona professor Dr Gene Giacomelli, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, explains how anyone can create a low-cost hydroponic garden at home using basic Styrofoam boxes.



Tools and Materials

  • Black plastic heavy-duty receptacle liner bag
  • Styrofoam ice chest with deep lid cover
  • 6 Styrofoam cups
  • 6 gallons distilled water
  • Marking pen
  • Craft knife
  • Perlite
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Lettuce seedlings or enough lettuce seeds for six plants
  • Plant nutrient mix

Hydroponic Garden How-To
1. Line Styrofoam ice chest with black liner bag. Fill with distilled water.

2. Using the top of Styrofoam cups as a template, trace 6 evenly spaced circles on Styrofoam chest's deep lid cover. With a craft knife, cut out circles 1/4 inch smaller than Styrofoam cup lid circles.

3. Using craft knife, cut small hole in the bottom of Styrofoam cups. Place Sphagnum moss in cups and top with perlite, filling to just under rim of cup.

4. Insert lettuce seedling into perlite, and fill in perlite around seedling.

5. Place lid upside-down on chest. Place cups in holes of lid.

6. Water seedlings each day with nutrient mix, making sure that the water level in the container is not too high: There should be about an inch of room between the water line and the bottom of the Styrofoam cups. After a week to 10 days, roots from the seedlings should begin entering the container. As the plants grow, pick leaves as desired, always being careful not to overharvest.

Resources
Hydroponic seed starters, perlite, moss, and specialty nutrient mixes are available at most garden shops.

Steps

  1. Step 1

Source
The Martha Stewart Show, April 2011

Reviews (8)

  • 5 May, 2014

    I've always wanted to try hydroponic gardening, however using plastic and styrofoam to grow plants hydroponically almost seems like a contradiction. Aren't plastics harmful to the environment?

  • 16 Mar, 2014

    Does anyone know if you have to do this with seedlings? I can't get those right now, so I just bought seeds. Will that work, or do I need to have the seedlings for this project?

  • 5 Feb, 2014

    You should change the water every couple of weeks unless you have an aerating pump placed in it. Change out the plants when they start looking yucky. You can also grow peppers and tomatoes as well but only do 3 plants that way. Herbs work well too!

  • 5 Feb, 2014

    How long will this last (continual re-growing w/o over-harvesting)? Do you have to do anything to the water to keep it clean? Probably have to add new distilled water over time, but is there anything else you have to do it? I'm thinking if its outside, (I live in FL), then the water may get yucky after a couple of weeks.And what about other veg? Can this be done on a larger scale? This concept is very intriguing, and I would like to learn more about growing multiple veg and more of each of them.

  • 5 Feb, 2014

    How long will this last (continual re-growing w/o over-harvesting)? Do you have to do anything to the water to keep it clean? Probably have to add new distilled water over time, but is there anything else you have to do it? I'm thinking if its outside, (I live in FL), then the water may get yucky after a couple of weeks.And what about other veg? Can this be done on a larger scale? This concept is very intriguing, and I would like to learn more about growing multiple veg and more of each of them.

  • 2 Aug, 2013

    I haven't tried the Tower Garden yet, https://bk71112.towergarden.com/, but am looking forward to do it soon, it's in the mail.

  • 7 Jun, 2013

    Have you looked at the brand new Tower Garden as a good option for urban dwellers to create their own hydroponic garden? There is good information at http://TowerGardenAtlanta.com.

  • 7 Jul, 2012

    Where do you put them to grow? Inside? Outside? Basement? Do they need sun, because I'd have to hide them in a closet, to keep my indoor cats from eating them!