This homemade hydroponics system is a system that uses a combination of two different techniques. It is similar to a nutrient film technique (NFT) in the way the nutrient solution is continuously circulated through the system. The depth of the nutrient solution is kept high, allowing the roots of your plants to bathe constantly in the nutrient solution. In this way the system is also similar to the deep water culture (DWC) technique.
The system shown here was made with two 10 FT pieces of 4 inch PVC. It is important to note that there are some advantages to using 6 inch PVC instead of 4 inch. A 6 inch pipe will give you twice as much root volume area, and makes clogging and leaking much less likely. This decision depends mainly on what type of plants you have in your garden and what size they will finish at.
The system was PVC glued together in the shape of a "U". The open ends were capped, and the plant holes were drilled with a 3 inch hole saw about every 12 inches. After making two systems this way I switched to 2 inch holes for the plant sites, which helps a lot with preventing leaks if you are using 4 inch PVC. When 2 inch holes are used, it is easiest to simply buy some 2" netted pots.
An air pump and a couple of air stones are used to aerate the nutrient solution. Nutrient absorption only occurs in the presence of Oxygen, so this is very important. At one end of the hydroponics system, a small aquarium water pump (about 60 GPH) transfers water from one capped end to the other. This sets up a continuous circulation of the nutrient solution, which evenly distributes Oxygen through all parts of the system and prevents your plants from drowning.
To keep expenses down, 16 OZ disposable cups were used for the plant containers. Holes can be easily made in the cups with a soldering iron, but should be done in a well ventilated area (plastic fumes are very toxic). The system is filled with nutrient solution until the bottom inch of each cup is under water. When properly built and filled, the 4 inch PVC system holds about 10 gallons of nutrient solution in the PVC pipes themselves. It is easy to add an additional nutrient reservoir if more nutrient solution is desired in the system. As a general rule, I like to aim for about one gallon of nutrient solution per plant in my homemade hydroponic systems.
Check out My Most Successful Homemade Hydro System
Leave this Homemade Hydroponics System page and
Check out some Homemade System Construction Tips
Check out some Common Problems
with hydroponic systems
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!