I really wanted a way to grow a substantial amount of produce without using any power that required a plug to do it, and to make it look good - more like furniture that you would want inside the house. So I built this.

There are a million ways to set up some recyclables and an aquarium pump to grow a few plants. I've done this plenty of times. It wasn't good enough for the power it was using, and the materials never lasted that long. Plastic bottles are only intended to be used once - many bottles even say to not reuse them on the label. This system does use new materials for the initial build, but once it's set up it only requires water, fertilizer, seeds/cuttings and the occasional sheet of rockwool from then on out. Using new materials also reduces the chances that surprise contaminants will make it into the food (at the very least it should be better than grocery store equivalents.) The pump is solar powered - it pulls the solution from the reservoir below to trickle over the roots of the plants inside the box. The footprint is 36" by 8" and it accommodates 50 plants. The inspiration came from a book of old French ironwork that I have. I figured that if I was going to do this I might as well make it as spectacular as I could. I'm running it outdoors over the summer, but then it's coming inside to keep working near a sunny window to keep me eating fresh and healthy all year long.

*After a last frost over 20 days past the 'normal' they tell you to plan for when you garden the weather here has finally gotten nice! It froze one night and was over 90 degrees the next day, so now I have pictures of everything up and running! Yay!*

Step 1: Materials List

This materials list will is based on the 50 plant system I built - don't forget to adjust if necessary!


- solar powered pump with batteries - this one lifts water about 18" and that number determines the height (ebay)
- fiberglass water reservoir - this is really what made the project convenient. It's got a long, narrow footprint so it's not like having a big clunky rubbermaid bin or something.
- 50 adjustable tubing clamps
- 50 1/4" irrigation hose adaptors
- 1/4" irrigation tubing (I bought a 100 foot roll but didn't use all of it)
- 1/4" irrigation connection hole punch
- 1/2" or larger tubing - a few feet will do it
- connections to go from your pump to the 1/2" tubing
- 1/8" acrylic sheet in green and black
- acrylic cement/solvent and a needle style applicator
- aquarium sealant (just to fill in any leaks)
- 2 12" long acrylic piano hinges
- an acrylic latch - - padlock or magnetic style will work
- an assortment of acrylic cornerreinforcement blocks
- acrylic handles
- black acrylic paint or india ink (to make the engraved nameplates stand out)

- 1.5" by 1.5" rockwool/grodan cubes
- seeds or cuttings (with rooting hormone)
- good quality hydroponic fertilizer (miracle grow isn't going to keep things going for very long)
- black dry erase marker
<p>My these posts are old...... BUT .... This is really great!! I really would like to make one myself but I am at the beginning of looking into it. I just have one question. Why are stainless steel (or even glass) containers never used? I understand that they are far from cost-efficient but it spares the risk of weird chemicals from plastics or PVC. Or is there something else that goes on that I don't know about yet so that stainless steel shouldn't be used??</p><p>(Maybe a tipp on how things look a few years later...)</p><p>Regards</p>
VERY nicely done.
This is a beautiful, well-thought-out system and I'd love to see harvest updates!
Thank you!&nbsp; I&nbsp;just added a late season picture to the last step!<br />
Great project. I think you should look at using a 'thermal' solar water pump instead of a solar panel. Search for 'Fluidine' pump on youtube. These great pumps have a lower carbon impact and are simple to build. They are being used in third-world areas for low cost automatic pumping. -MIG
Thanks for the tip! I'm definitely working on building something that will handle more plants and that looks like a great solution.
I am very intrigued and encouraged - I like to grow my own garden, I have just put up a small home-made visqueen greenhouse. I live in the bush of Alaska and scrouge and "invent" for my needs. This gives me some great ideas...
I'm glad you're inspired! I love coming up with unusual ways to grow things - I'm all about efficiency (especially with my time, putting in a proper garden takes a lot of work and we usually get a hard freeze just before all of my tomatoes are ready.) There are a lot of ways you could put something like this together!
This is a really cool idea, AND it looks nice! Well done!
Thank you!
This is a cool project. Do you have an estimate of the total price, minus the decorative features?
Thanks! The pump was about $50 - it accounted for a lot of the increased cost over most systems (you can get a cheap plug-in pond pump for under $10). All of the acrylic parts (hinges and corners, etc), the fiberglass bin and the tubing came in under $60. Like usual, I did the laser cutting as part of a larger group of things that I paid per minute for so I don't have a very exact price, but I would guess that to be about $75. So probably around $185 would be my best estimate.

About This Instructable




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