For a long time, I was against the idea of building a homemade aeroponics system for many reasons. Usually, there are expensive pumps to buy, there are always problems with clogging spray heads, and there is always the potential for a homemade water disaster until a system is tried and true. This brilliant system, designed for cloning, eliminates ALL of those concerns.
This homemade system is made from a cheap plastic storage bin, sometimes called a tote. 2 inch holes are cut in the lid to hold several 2 inch netted pots. A cheap alternative that works equally well is to use disposable 6 oz plastic cups. You need to make many holes in the cups for the roots. This resourceful guy burned the holes into the cups with a soldering iron, although you should keep in mind that plastic fumes are very toxic. Consider using a hole punch or a drill instead.
The cuttings are placed in the netted pots so a 1/2 inch sticks out the bottom, and cuttings are held in place with expanded clay pellets. The water level is kept 1 inch below the bottoms of the netted pots, which would be only a 1/2 inch below the cuttings. The clones are kept moist by an air pump on a timer.
Tiny bubbles rushing to the surface pop and throw a very fine mist of water into the air. Clones produce roots more quickly with a series of wet/dry cycles, so the air pump is set to run in cycles continuously for 15 minutes on, then 45 minutes off. Two 6 inch air stones are used to help maximize coverage. After two weeks of maintaining the water level in the reservoir (usually less), the clones should have roots.
Success with your homemade aeroponics cloner starts with cleanliness, and maintaining the right temperature. I address these two topics in some detail on my cloning success page. Start with clean, room temperature water in the reservoir. Adding a B1 supplement, like Thrive Alive B1, helps to reduce cutting shock and promote quicker and stronger root development. Always use a cloning gel when taking your cuttings. It's easy to adjust this system for rockwool. Use round rockwool plugs held in place with some expanded clay pellets in each netted pot, or simply use a square rockwool block that happens to fit into the netted pot (there are different sizes). Most importantly, keep everything as close to 72 degrees as you can.
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!