Hydroponics is growing plants without dirt. Plants are grown with their roots in an inert medium. The medium can be perlite, rockwool, coconut husk, or rocks. They key is you keep the roots exposed to a nutrient rich water solution.
Hydroponic systems come in many didn't shapes and sizes. Today I'm going to demonstrate how to make a simple system using mostly things you have around the house. I did this with my 7 year old daughter on a recent snow day so it's also a great indoor winter activity.
visit captainhydroponics.com for more hydroponic system ideas or to just learn more about it.
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Before you start any project, it's smart to gather everything you need to avoid any mid-project surprises. Below is what you need today. Most items should already be in your house and the last 3 can be picked up at a local Home Depot.
Empty 2 liter soda bottle
An old sock (you can use any cotton material)
Small mixing bowl
Perlite (available at your local Home Depot or Amazon)
Peat Moss (available at your local Home Depot or Amazon)
Seed of your choice (I'm using lettuce in this example)
Step 2: Prepare the Soda Bottle
Rinse your 2 liter soda bottle, draw a black line ~ in the middle of the bottle, and cut the bottle in two.
Step 3: Create the Wick
Stick the sock halfway through the soda bottle top. You may need to cut the sock down but use a piece large enough to fully block the hole so your medium doesn’t fall into the water reservoir.
Step 4: Mix the Medium
Mix the perlite and peat moss in a 1:1 ratio in your mixing bowl. You only need about 1 cup of each to fill your 2 liter but if you mix extra like I did you can save it for your next hydroponic DIY project. Tip: the reason I used the Miracle Grow products is that they already have the required nutrients for at least 3 months of growing so you don’t need to worry about adding fertilizer to your water.
Step 5: Fill Reservoir
Fill the bottom half of the 2 litter with water.
Step 6: Attach Grow Tray
Place the top half of the bottle upside down into the water. The wick should extend at least 1 inch into the water. You also want to ensure the sock is completely blocking the hole.
Step 7: Fill Growing Tray With Medium
Fill your new planter with your perlite/peat moss mix. If some dirt falls into the water don’t worry. Just dump your water out and refill.
Fun learning tip: At this point my daughter and I watched the wicking action. Here’s how much water was absorbed by the sock and medium in about 10 minutes.
Step 8: Water the Medium
Moisten your medium by slowly pouring 1 cup of water over the top of the medium.
Step 9: Sow the Seeds
Tuck several seeds just under the top layer of medium. I would suggest about 1/8 of an inch.
I used lettuce in this example but another great idea is Basil or any other herb that your family likes and uses.
Step 10: Create a Mini Greenhouse
Wrap the top of your bottle in cling wrap to help the germination process.
Step 11: Store in a Warm Place
Seeds like it a little bit warmer than room temperature and usually don’t need light so I put our bottle in our utility closet with our heating system. It kept our DIY hydroponic system at about 80 degrees.
Step 12: Move to a Natural Light Source
Once the seeds sprout up about an inch, place the 2 liter on a window sill for continued growth. This took about 3 days for my lettuce seeds.