My brother Ben is a really handy guy. You may remember that he made a modern bird feeder that I featured on Life on the Balcony a few months back. Ben grows all of his vegetables hydroponically. The flower above is on one of his zucchini plants. I know he’s also growing tomatoes, and some herbs I think. Anyway, I know some LOTB readers are interested in growing plants hydroponically, so I asked him if he would share how he created his hydroponic setup.
- 1 – 2 gallon bucket with lid (5 gallon buckets also work well)
- 1 – tube of 5 minute epoxy
- Liquid soluble fertilizer w/micronutrients
- 1 – aquarium airstone (that fits inside bucket)
- 1 – aquarium air pump
- 5+ ft – airline tubing
- Netpots (buy a size several inches larger than your plant’s current root ball)
- Hydroton clay pebbles
- Cut a circle in the lid (diameter should be 0.5″ less than diameter of desired netpot) using either an exacto knife or a hole saw and a drill, like this:
- Drill a small hole in lid to allow airline tubing to be fed through ~ 1/4″ diameter
- Mix the epoxy and glue the airstone to the inside-bottom of the bucket, wait for it to cure
- Feed air tubing through the small hole and connect to airstone
- Fill bucket with water + fertilizer according to package instructions
- Put plant roots in netpot and fill with hydroton/clay pebbles (I usually start my plants in peat pellets and then just put the whole peat pellet into the net pot and then fill to the brim with hydroton clay pebbles)
- Place netpot with plant into opening in lid and put lid on bucket
- Connect open end of air tubing to air pump.
- Plug in air pump
In order to protect the airpump from the weather you may need to house it in a small rubbermaid bin. Tomato cages will fit perfectly around a 2-gallon bucket (just bend/cut the ends) This system can easily be expanded to utilize multiple buckets, simply get an air pump that has multiple outlet nozzles or a t-fitting and that is strong enough to supply as many buckets as you need.
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