SESSION 7: Building a Simple Hydroponic System
First you need to figure out what kind of hydroponic system you want.
You should pick a system that is well suited to the type of plant you
want to grow and within your budget.
EBB and FLOW SYSTEM
A simple ebb and flow hydroponic system can be built with some basic
components: a bucket, a tub, tubing and a growing medium. This lesson
instructs you how to build an Ebb and Flow system.
The procedure outlined below for building a hydroponic unit can be
applied to a classroom project or can be used by a student for building
their own hydroponic garden at home.
You will need:
1 bucket for your nutrient reservoir (2- 5 gallons)
1 tub for your plant bed (approximately l' x 2' x 6")
3 ft. plastic tubing, 1/2" diameter
Enough Growing Medium to fill the tub (plant bed)
Silicone or epoxy glue
Drill with 1/2" bit
2" x 2" piece of plastic screen or mesh
1 rubber band
Seeds or bedding plants from your local nursery
1. Drill a 1/2" hole on the side of the bucket, about 1" from the bottom
2. Insert the hose into the hole in the bucket and seal the edges of the hole with the glue.
3. Drill a 1/2" hole in the side of the tub (plant bed) about 1" from the bottom.
4. Insert the other end of the tubing into the hole in the plant
bed, allowing the end of the tubing to protrude 2" through the bucket.
Seal the edges of the hole with the glue. Allow time for the glue to dry
5. Wrap the piece of screen around the end of the tubing that
comes through the side of the plant bed and secure with the rubber band.
This prevents the growing medium from clogging the tube.
6. Pour the growing medium into the tub, filling it to 1" below
the rim. Your Ebb and Flow hydroponic garden is now ready for nutrient
solution and planting.
7. Fill your bucket with the mixed
nutrient solution. Lift the bucket (higher than the grow bed) and allow
the solution to run from the bucket into the grow bed. You can place the
bucket on something higher than the grow bed white waiting for the
nutrient solution to drain into the grow bed. When the growing medium is
saturated, lower the bucket so the solution can drain back into the
8. Once your growing medium is saturated, you can plant your
seeds. Follow the instructions on the seed packet for planting depth. Or
use starter plants from your local nursery. Carefully wash the loose
medium from the bedding plant roots before putting the plants in the
9. Once you have planted the seeds, the growing medium
will need to be kept moist with nutrient solution. This is done
by raising the bucket (flooding the grow bed) and lowering the bucket
(draining the grow bed). This should be done several times a day to
maintain a proper moisture level in the growing medium surrounding the
You can automate this hydroponic garden by adding a small pump in your
nutrient reservoir to flood the grow bed and a timer to start and stop
You will need to place your hydroponic garden near a window in direct light or, add artificial lighting.
Use empty 2 Liter soda bottles per plant.
Cut the bottle 1/3 of way down from the top and invert the top into the
remaining part of the bottle. For stability tape a ridge of relatively
thick cardboard to the lower portion of the bottle at the rim.
Cut a few strips of a cotton T-shirt for the wick (or purchase a wick
from a candle shop). Pull the wick material through the opening of the
bottle. If the growing medium is too loose or small and will fall
through the bottle opening, slit the cap, put it back on the bottle and
pull the wick through the slit.
Fill the top part with growing medium. Use store bought, shredded paper
or fabric, or hay. Be sure the wick material is near the top of the
Fill the lower half of the bottle with the nutrient solution so it
almost touches the bottles original opening. The wick should almost be
touching the bottom of the bottom half of the bottle.
Clean the medium from the nursery off the roots of your starter plant and plant in your medium.
Complete Hydroponic Systems
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