The main problem I have always had with building a homemade aeroponics system is the clogging spray nozzles. I was in a hydroponics supply store the other day when it occurred to me the aeroponics system I was looking at did not use any spray heads. As I looked over the new hydroponic gardening system, I marveled at how simple the design really was. With the right pump and correct assembly, the following homemade system is relatively problem free.
Look closely at the store bought aeroponics system here. There is a 20 gallon (75 liter) reservoir. There are several channels 4 or 6 inches in diameter and several feet long. Every 6 or 8 inches there is a hole drilled into the channel to accommodate a plant. The channels are pitched to allow drainage back to the reservoir.
There is a 1/2 inch line run down the center of each channel and capped at the end. All the lines are connected at the other end by a manifold and attached to a pump. At any point along the 1/2 line where spray is desired a 1/16 inch drill bit is used to cleanly make a small hole (usually one between each plant site).
Our homemade aeroponics system will be made much the same. 1/2 inch PVC is cut to length and capped at one end.
Spray locations are marked and drilled into the 1/2 inch PVC. The line
is held in place by drilling two small holes and fastening a zip tie every few feet.
Channels can be made of 4 inch or 6 inch PVC and will have to be sealed at one end with caps. The other end may be sealed or left open depending on how drainage back to the reservoir is handled. 2 1/2 or 3 inches holes are cut every 6 to 8 inches to accommodate netted pots (or other planting container).
At one end of the homemade aeroponics system, the 1/2 inch lines elbow out of their channels and are joined together by a series of "T" fittings. This is known as a manifold. One end of the manifold is left open to connect to the pump. Your pump may be external, as in the system up top, or you may use a submersible pump. Either way, your pump needs to be able to deliver a water pressure of 45 to 60 psi.
Finally, any large, cheap plastic tote may be used for the nutrient reservoir. A homemade aeroponics system like the size above would require a 20 gallon (75 liter) reservoir. It is always best to choose a dark tote, to keep as much light from the nutrient reservoir as possible. This will prevent algae growth and therefore help prevent fungus gnats.
When constructing any homemade hydroponics system you should always use PVC, and not CPVC. CPVC is known to slowly leach harmful chemicals, estrogen mimickers, that block your bodies normal hormones and make guys grow boobs and become more effeminate, cause early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys, increases your risk of breast cancer....all kinds of bad stuff!
To prevent leaks, be sure to use PVC cleaner on all parts BEFORE you apply the PVC glue and join the parts. After pushing the parts together, give them a little twist in opposite directions to smear closed any air bubbles that may be preventing a water-tight glue seal. Check out the links below for more great info!
I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT
having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow
your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality
nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with
and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as
possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!
As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...
And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.
Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only
just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only
because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique
and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more
high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole
year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to
increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the
same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your
own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food
And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...
The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->
This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.
Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!
The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!