Instructables

Solar Powered Vertical Drip Hydroponics with French Ironwork Details *Updated!*

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!*
 
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Goodhart5 years ago
VERY nicely done.
pessoa5 years ago
This is a beautiful, well-thought-out system and I'd love to see harvest updates!
technoplastique (author)  pessoa5 years ago
Thank you!  I just added a late season picture to the last step!
mig5 years ago
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
technoplastique (author)  mig5 years ago
Thanks for the tip! I'm definitely working on building something that will handle more plants and that looks like a great solution.
kennylk5 years ago
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...
technoplastique (author)  kennylk5 years ago
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!
rattyrain5 years ago
This is a really cool idea, AND it looks nice! Well done!
technoplastique (author)  rattyrain5 years ago
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.