Hi, thank you for your interest. This is my second Instructable and was made for three reasons.
The first is explain whats hydroponics. The second to define that there are different Hydroponics techniques. And the third, its to explain how to make a simple floating root system.
A simple description of the hydroponic technique is:
The roots receive a balanced nutrient solution dissolved in water with all the chemical elements essential for the development of plants, which can grow in a mineral solution only (THIS Instructable), or in an inert medium, such as washed sand, gravel or perlite, among many others.
Hydroponics or hydroponic agriculture is a method used to grow plants using mineral solutions instead of agricultural soil.
-Advantages of Hydroponics-
Reducing production costs considerably.
It is not dependent on meteorological phenomena.
It produces crops out of season.
Much less space and capital is required for increased production.
Incredible water saving, as it is recycled.
Saving fertilizers and insecticides.
No agricultural machinery (tractors, etc.) is used.
Greater cleaning and hygiene in crop management, from sowing to harvesting.
Cultivation free of parasites, bacteria, fungi and contamination.
Fast recovery of investment.
Higher precocity of crops.
Possibility of almost complete automation.
Helps eliminate some of the pollution.
It does not cause the risks of erosion that appear in the earth.
It solves the problem of production in arid or cold areas.
It can be grown in cities.
Uniformity is obtained in the crops.
It allows to offer better prices in the market.
It empowers us to contribute to the solution of the resource conservation problem.
It is a technique adaptable to your knowledge, spaces and resources.
It is not fertilized with organic matter.
Natural and clean nutrients are used.
It can be grown in places where normal farming is difficult or almost impossible.
Step 1: Knowing the System.
Well, this is the project.
It's based on a scheme simple, but that integrates knowledge very well studied.
Now, let me share you something that surprised me. This knowledge is the cornerstone of the entire hydroponic system, and farming itself.
PLANTS AND TREES BREATHE THROUGH A SPECIAL KIND OF ROOT.
Yes, its well known that plants and trees feeds by their roots, but its not so well known that also breath through roots.
This is why some plants need of a special ground (substratum) for growing. Its about water drainage, and of course, of the air that can enter the roots.
So, the meaning of hidroponics is to provide an environment super enriched in both air and nutriments that allow the plant to grow as fast as possible.
Step 2: Gathering Stuff.
As you can see, the elements of the hidroponic system are very easy to get.
The first is a file box. Its cheap, light and easy to get. I bought mine at Home Depot, it has 20L capacity (5.3 Gallon). This volume is important, as you will see further.
The next items can be get at an aquarium store.
Step 3: Getting Serious.
Now, there is no replacement for a hydroponics solution.
It has to be bought from a seller. My recommendation is to buy a basic kit, that includes a series of items that will be used through this guide. Such as special foamy for Sowing vegetable seeds
I´m from Mexico, so i chose this seller, but you can get it in your country.
You may also want to buy several basket for hidroponics.
Step 4: Building.
I considered that 9 baskets were enough for this first attempt.
I drew the circles and estimated the center.
We need to drill some holes in order to place the nine baskets.
But it becomes tricky. We hace to consider inner radium, a hole good enough to get the basket in, but not too large to loose it.
The next step is to use a hole saw. On the image we see a measure of 1 3/4" as inner radium, i used the closest hole saw you can get, and then smooth the edge with sand paper.
Step 5: Sharing Expertise.
With the holes done, the next step is paint the cover and the container.
This is due the Translucent material, because light and water make algae which are unwanted in your system.
Step 6: Joining the System
The foamy makes a inert substratum.
This means, it does not modify the chemical properties of the hydroponic solution.
NOTE: The present is intended to be a basic project, so we do not consider another factors wich comes with a industrial system, such as Electroconductivity and Ph measurements.
That said, lets grow a plant, or many.
We need to make a batch of hydroponic solution, we need 5.3 gallon, or 20 L of tap water, and a measure of mineral nutrients. Make sure to dilute everything well, and keep it away from light.
With this, and the foamy, we can germinate vegetable seeds. You should irrigate the foamy with the solution, because the foamy does not have any nutriments for the seed.
Since i'm not a expert, i had a little succes rate, thats why you see in the picture foamy with no sprout.
Once you get at least 9 sprout, you sould take them with care and place them in the basket. I used pillow stuffing to fill the space between foamy and basket wall. Pillow stuffing is inert substratum too (i hope).
Step 7: Final Assembly.
Then, you fill the file box with the solution and place everything in order.
Almost forgot, drill a hole to insert the air hose.
Connect the Air hose to the Air pump.
Insert the air hose through the top and connect the other end to the air diffuser.
Fill the container with 20 L of solution, and sink the air difusser.
Place every basket in place.
Connect the air pump.
VERY IMPORTANT: Assure that roots are inmerse in solution. Otherwise they will die.
Step 8: Orientation.
SECRET: place your system inside the house, next to a window facing the OTHER hemisphere you live in.
If you live in North Hemisphere (like me), choose a window facing South.
And that is all. Make sure to choose small vegetables, like Broccoli, lettuce or spinach. Even better, three of each.
I choosen tomatoes, and they grew too much. This can be made with another hydroponic technique. Irrigating soil with the nutrient solution.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Change you solution every month, this is not a profesional system, this recipe is for a one month lasting. Reclice your solution, is excellent for the front yard.
Remove the cover, pull the air diffuser, be careful with the roots.
Hope you post your own systems. Greetings.