Last year I followed this Instructable  to build a hydroponic garden and it turned out really nice. I used it to grow lettuce, basil, and tomatoes. After a couple months, the lettuce started bolting and flowering and the tomatoes outgrew the setup. In the end, I used the setup to grow three basil plants for about six months. It took up a whole lot of space, required a large amount of water and nutrients in the reservoir, and got dirty very quick. I started to pack it all up for a move but it was so slimy, moldy, and gross I decided to salvage the valuable parts and trash the rest. I missed the bunches of fresh basil (hence the code name "The Basil Box") so I decided to draw up a design for a setup that would take up less space and could be cleaned/maintained easier. The objectives I took into consideration for this design were:
  • Reasonably Priced
  • Easy to Maintain (adding nutrients and adjusting lights)
  • Easy to Clean
  • Easy to Break Down and Pack Away When Not in Use
  • Small Form Factor (Final dimensions were about 1.25 ft x 1.25 ft x 2.5 ft)

Step 1: Plans and Bill of Material

      Keeping this project cheap was the main objective I wanted to stick to. Luckily I had most of the hydroponic supplies on hand, so the total project cost for me was under $50. Those just starting off with hydroponics will need to buy a few key materials such as expanded clay, pH control chemicals, an air pump with air stones, and nutrients in order to get their system up and running. I've included the preliminary sketches I drew up (Some dimensions on the drawings have changed) and the BOM.
<p>I like your design a lot. very simple, sturdy and cheap.. I just came across your instructable, we have a pretty similar design. <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/easy-cheap-auto-grow-system/" rel="nofollow">check it out</a>... mine is like a miniature version of yours :)</p>
About your cleaning and chemicals that you add to make it work properly have you considered doing a custom aquaponics setup instead of just hydro? for the smaller scale you could use smaller fish than one normally would for a system, just wouldn't be able to eat them but they would keep the water cleaner and help with the amount of chems you have to add
Yeah I've thought about aquaponics. I just stuck with what I'm experienced with for this project. I also travel a lot and from my initial reading, you have to kind of keep a close eye on your ecosystem, right?
there are many different breeds of fish and other creatures you could put in the tank that would regulate the system pretty well on their own, as long as you had an automatic feed/ filler then it should run fine with very little maintenance. just gotta find the right combination of things
I grow basil to!
I was waiting for a comment like that. I grow 'tomato' plants. My favourite is Romato(sp?) <br>Would this make strawberries grow better/faster?
You know, I bought some seeds for strawberries but never got around to planting them. Theoretically, yes, they would grow better and faster because you're supplying them with all the right nutrients and plenty of the light they need.
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the weekend projects contest!
This is an awesome design! I try to grow my plants indoors and I have two aerogardens but the lights are burned out, plus my plants can only grow so big with them. I will try your design but I might tweak it so that some pvc parts are cheaper and I might use something smaller than 5 gallon bucket, I could also suggest using the reflective housing insulation if you live in the cooler states with harsh winters. <br> <br>All in all, I have never been creative enough to figure out the lighting problems like you have. <br> <br>Good job and thanks! <br>
I almost bought one of those aerogardens but that was exactly what I thought, it looks kind of small. My planter is sitting right next to the radiator so it should be warm (hopefully not too warm) through the winter. I'm trying to decide if I should make a reflective wrap for the sides or buy one. I'm going to research prices. I actually use a 2 gallon bucket/lid from home depot that was about $5. After buying the PVC parts and assembling it, I did realized I could have just used a tee and a 90 degree piece for the corners instead of the outlets and 1/2&quot; thread to 3/4 PVC. It would have saved me about $13 bucks since tees and 90 degree pieces are about a third of the cost. Thanks for the comment!!
Nice tutorial. The Bill of Materials has listed 1/2&quot; PVC Pipe - 10 ft Sections X 2 but your written instructions talk about cutting a 3/4&quot; PVC pipe. Did I misunderstand? Thanks!
Good catch! Thank you very much! Should be fixed now!
insulated crimp-style butt fasteners [auto parts store] would make for slender wires vs the clunky wire nuts. they can easily shrink wrapped too, tho' probably not necessary
Yeah, those look like they would work nicely. I had a box of these wire nuts laying around so I just used those.
omg a bucketplant. buckets are so cool.

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