Hydroponics is a fairly recent gardening style built on the principles of flexibility and creativity. Because of its inventiveness, it has become incredibly popular. As a result, the internet has a crazy amount of information on hydroponics.
For easier research, we have compiled some of the top DIY hydroponic setups you can make.
This method is great for beginners in hydroponics. With just a bucket, growing media, net pots, pH measurement tools, and nutrient mixture, anyone can set this up within a matter of a few hours. This system also doesn’t require electricity to run so it can go on for weeks without much monitoring.
An easy vegetable to start planting is lettuce and spinach. Once you’re confident enough, you can grow fruits like tomatoes.
Basic Bucket Hydroponic Setup
Start with a five-gallon bucket filled with the growing media of choice. The growing media will guide the nutrient solution up to the roots of the plant. This setup is perfect for growing one large plant. Thereafter, all you need to do is water the plant. To take it a step further, fit the setup with a separate bucket for a reservoir and a pump with a timer.
Bucket Drip System
Despite being a more advanced setup, it can be fixed up for under $100. In this plan, essentially all the plants share a single reservoir. The most important thing is to get a large bucket for your reservoir so that you can vary the number of plants, should plans change. You can also change the bucket sizes to suit each plant you decide to grow.
The Aquarium Tank Float
This setup requires a fish tank, making this a more quirky way to get children interested in hydroponics. Apart from the basic components, you will also need a float made out of styrofoam. You can opt for a passive system with manual pumping or make this system an active one.
Small beans or one large lettuce are some vegetables you can grow with this method.
The NFT Setup
This method is similar to the basic setup but instead of buckets, the NFT setup uses PVC pipes (preferably four inches wide) drilled with holes on top instead. Net pots are placed in the holes, allowing the nutrient solution to reach the plant roots via the PVC pipes from the reservoir. With this setup, you can grow anywhere from 20 to 40 small plants. Be it indoors or outdoors, this method will work, although grow lights are needed in the former case. Tomatoes are perfect plants to grow with this method.
The main advantage of this setup is its mobility. All you need is a container of any size with a lid, PVC pipes, a pump, and an automatic sprinkler for the nutrient solution. The plants and growing medium will be contained within net pots, which will in turn be nested in the lid. This setup requires more experience with hydroponics to build.
The Frame Setup
If you like the NFT system but need a greater challenge, this is for you. You will need to build PVC pipes at various heights, fully utilizing the vertical area of your space as well. Of course, the design for water flow in this closed system can be a nightmare with insufficient planning. As there will be more PVC pipes, a wooden frame is needed to accommodate them.
Tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs are great plants for this setup.
Vertical shelves will hold containers which then hold the plants. The hard part is designing an irrigation system out of pipes. Once you’ve done that, the sunlight will do the rest. This setup also spruces up your window area.
Chard, kale, and strawberries are great for this setup.
Vertical Tower Hydroponic
Although this plan will cost you more money and effort to set up, it is adjustable for both outdoors and indoors. Using a fence post with hollow spaces as a base, net pots filled with plants are placed in those spaces. With a pump, water is transferred to the top of the post; it will then flow downwards to reach every plant from the inside.
With just any small bucket and bubbler, all you need to do is set them up, and place your net pot with the plant in.
This is ideal for beginner growers to grow small plants like herbs atop any desktop space.
Kratky Method — Mason Jar Style
This setup uses a mason jar instead of a bucket and it is a passive system. You can easily DIY this from the materials you have lying around at home. Net pots can be made from plastic cups. The net pots containing the plants are then nested in the lid of the jar. The jar is filled with the nutrient solution.
BATO Buckets Method
Whether you wish to go for an active (manual watering) or passive system (non-electrical automated irrigation system), BATO buckets, also called Dutch buckets, are ideal for all levels of intricacy. These highly versatile buckets are also great for all sizes of plants and terrains.
High-Depth Solution Hydroponics
All you need are a non-transparent plastic container of any size, a bubbler, LED grow lights and an air hose for oxygen. The number of plants you can grow depends on the dimensions of your container. Once again, net pots will contain the plants.
Drip Systems Method
Much like other systems, this method can either be made active (by using a pump and some pipes) or passive (by strategically arranging the equipment for gravity to work its magic). This all depends on your conditions, experience, and allowance. Growing mediums like coir are ideal for this method.
This affordable method only requires a tote, growing medium, nutrient solution, and a pump with a timer (for an automated system). The growing medium is inundated with the nutrient solution at fixed intervals of several minutes. This method is also known as the ebb-flow system.
Hydroponic Stacked Planters
Planters that can be stacked atop each other has potential for hydroponics. The only problem is the unfair distribution of nutrient solution, especially for the lower plants. That said, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not study how various plants thrive under this method.
This list doesn’t even begin to cover the entire list of DIY hydroponic methods. If you have decided to commit to the art of making your own hydroponics, you can refer to this list for ideas. But be prepared to encounter plenty of setbacks and make many mistakes along the way. The important thing is to learn from them and constantly improve your system from there.