Simple Homemade Hydroponic System

by Simon on September 7, 2011

A video demonstrating how to make a simple homemade hydroponic system:

What you need:
Storage tote tub
Net pots/neti pots
Aquarium/Hydroponic air pump
Sharpie marker pen
Pair of Scissors
Typing paper
Drawing compass
Razor blade or cutting tool
Shipping pallet
Fur strips
Pea gravel
Nutrient solution

Video Transcript:
To build a home hydroponic system you will first need to acquire a storage tote tub. These can be acquired at any wal-mart, Kmart loads and home depot or anywhere storage items are sold.

The most important thing about buying your tote tub is to make sure it has a smooth flat top on it. This is very important for applying the net pots to your system.

The tote tub that we will be using is an 18 gallon tote. The net pots that I am using for this tote tub are 3.75 inches in width. They will need to be that large at least to plant peppers and or tomatoes which is what we will be planting in this hydroponic system.

These net pots I acquired on eBay for about a dollar a piece… Also you will need to acquire two aquarium stones. These are 12 inches each. You will need one for the bottom of each tote tub. I got these for 4 dollars apiece.

The air pump I also acquired on eBay. After paying for the shipping I believe it was $15.00. It is a duel port system, meaning it has two external ports. Here you can see the ports. This is how I was going to lay out the top with the neti pots – their upside down and arranged in the rows that I want. This is going to be an 11 net pot system.

Next I will use a sharpie to draw out where the neti pots make contact with the lid so I know where my holes need to be. You will do this for all the neti pots on the lid. Next I will take one neti pot and trace an outline on a plain white piece of typing paper. I will do the same and draw an outline at the top. I will take a pair of scissors and cut out the circle. Now I want to find the dead centre of this circle – I will fold it twice, once half and then another half so it’s a quarter. Snip out the tip and that will be your dead centre. You can see here the hole.

Next I will place it on the circles I’ve made and will make a small mark so I can use a compass to make an interior circle. There’s the dead centre of the circle and you do this for all the neti pot holes. Next I will use a compass and draw an inner circle about a half an inch inside from the outer circle. First I started using a razor blade to cut out the holes and it proved to be quite tedious so I used a cutting tool I acquired at harbour freight. It worked very fast but it was kind of sloppy. As you can see here it doesn’t produce perfect circles. You will do this for all the holes. Next I came back with a laser blade and smoothed out the edges.

Then you are going to make slit cuts from where the inner circle was to the outer circle. This is so the neti pot will be supported by the half inch lip and it will support the net on the lid while it is soaked into the nutrient solution. You will need to do this for all neti pot holes. Next I bent the tabs downward so that the neti pots fit snug in place. This is how the neti pods look in the tote tub.

Next I acquired a shipping pallet and some 1 inch by 8 foot fur strips. I cut them in half to make them all into four foot lengths as a support structure for the plants as they grow.

To fill the neti pots I’m going to use pea gravel that I picked up at Lowes. A bag can cost about $4.00 Here you can see the support structure that I built using the 1 inch fur strips by 4 foot. This is how the hydroponics is going to be set on top of it and this will be out in the yard so they can get sunlight and as the plants grow you can trail some up on the support structure.

The fertilizer nutrient system you are going to use is very important. You need to make sure that you get a plant food that has micro-nutrients. Here I’m using Peters Professional 20-20-20 and it also has all the micro nutrients because the plants will need all the other of the barium , the iron, the sulphates and everything else it needs to grow because your using the water as the delivery system for the nutrients.

Once we have the support structure set in place we put the tubs on top and we start to fill them up with water from the garden hose. Something I did notice was that as we were filling the tote tubs up, the sides of the tote tubs started to bulge out. As you can see here where the lid is versus where the lid of the tote tub is and its bulging out with the water being filled out. This created a problem because the top would not perfectly seal on top of the tote tub.

Now here you can see the nutrient solution that we added to the water turned into a nice blue colour. We had to add a half of a tablespoon per gallon so we measured it out for 18 gallons per tote tub. As you can see here, here is the aquarium inner pump tubing. I ran through a very small hole that was already naturally in the tote tub and going down into the solution to aerate it. Aeration is very important for your plant fruits.

Here is the air pump which I put on the top of a stepping stone behind the system. I will cover it later with a dishpan so it is waterproof. Now when you’re putting your plants into the neti pots you will want to wash off the root balls of all dirt. Do it gently so you don’t disrupt the root systems and once it gets fully cleaned you want to place the plant dead centre into the neti pots and add pea gravel in around it. You will have to do a lot of estimation here.

Regarding the tote tubs, we solved the problem by using zip ties and a cordless drill . We drilled holes through the lid and into the side lip of the tote tub and then ran zip ties through it. This was a two person operation – one held the lid while the other person drilled and zipped.

The plants as you place them into the nutrient solution will need to be at least 1 inch submerged into the water so that the water can make contact with the neti pot wick up into the pea gravel and into the root system so that the root system will grow outside of the neti pot and down into the nutrient solution. You have to make water contact with the neti pot, that’s very important.

Here is the aquarium air pump with a dishpan on top of the air pump that is sitting on top of the stepping stone and I put a brick on top of it so that the wind won’t blow it off so that waterproofs the pump. We just got a good 3 day rain and it did not get wet.

Here is the back of the system showing the air pump tubing going into the tote tubs and here is what they looked like one week later. The pepper plants have really taken off. They have grown approximately 5 inches in one week. I was pretty amazed at that and they are really bushing out. Here you can see the root systems of the pepper plants just one week later growing out of the pea gravel and out of the neti pot and into the nutrient solution. I was pretty impressed. Thank you for watching.

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