Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air by spraying the roots with mineral nutrient solutions without the use of soil. Aeroponics grow faster than hydroponics because more nutrients and oxygen gets absorbed since plants are 100% in the air.
There are various types of aeroponics. The method described here uses a ultrasonic fogger to break down the water molecule and creates a nutrient rich mist that is directly absorved by the roots of the plant. This system is more efficient because it uses less water than most systems and the plant's roots doesn't have to work harder because molecules are already broken down. Roots can directly intake water when doplets are arond 5 microns.
THE SHOPPING LIST
- Plastic Storage Tote with Lid - Purchased at Costco Wholesale $7
- Single Head Ultrasonic Mist Maker with Float - Purchased on eBay $29
- 45W 225 LED Grow Light Lamp Panel Quad-band Full Spectrum - Purchased on eBay $35
- 2 Power Outlet Timer - Purchased a Savers Second Hand Store $2 each
- A Dozen 2 inches Net Cups - Purchased on Amazon $5
- Hydroponics Nutrient for Lettuce with Nitrogen - Purchased on Amazon $15
- Rockwool - Purchased at a local hydroponic shop (shout-out to Bright Ideas) $10
- Lettuce Seeds - Purchased at Home Depot $2
Step 1: Setting Up the Container
- Find a good place for the water container. The A/C closet of my apartment was my best choice because it hides the light well once the door is closed and there are 2 wall outlets right next to it.
- Once setup, this is a stationary system because the water makes it really heavy to move.
- Place light 2 feet above the lid of the container and connect it to a timer.
- Set the light timer to be OFF from 9 PM to 5 AM, as shown in the picture.
- Fill up 2/3 of the container with water.
- Add fertilizer and adjust the pH of the water accordingly to your plant's requirements (Chart)
- Place the mist maker in the water; It must float in water. Easy step if the mist maker was purchased with float
- Connect the mist maker to the timer. Set timer to be ON for 30 min and OFF for 30 min .
Step 2: Setting Up Lid and Net Cups
- Place the netcups on the lid to see how many will fit.
- Make sure to leave a minimum distance of 3 inches between them.
- Drill holes on the lid to place net cups in their predetermined position.
- Make sure to use the correct size hole-saw. If in doubt, it is better to start with smaller size and then try a bigger one.
Step 3: Setting Up the Plants
I chose to grow 2 different types of lettuce: Butterhead and Romaine.
- Use a pencil to expand the hole in the rockwool
- Place seeds inside the hole in the rockwool
- Gently wet all the rockwools. Do not add fertilizer.
- It takes about a few days for the seeds to sprout.
- Make sure that rockwool stay nice and humid through that time.
- Transfer the plant once the first 2 leaves are visible
- Remove any extra sprouts to leave 1 plant per rockwool
Step 4: Finishing Setup
- Insert the sprouts in rockwool into net cups. If the rockwool does not cover the entire netcup and there is empty space where the fog can escape, use an extra empty rockwool to close the gap
- Snap lid in place to close the system
- Check and adjust pH weekly. The pH was checked and adjusted only on the same days the pictures were taken
From seed to plant, this system did not require water to be added or exchanged.
After 30 days, the lettuce will start to flower. You can see the difference between the images of day 27 and day 35. If your lettuce flower, DO NOT EAT IT as it will produce a while, latex liquid that is not edible.