If you want more details on why the basics are set up a certain way, there are plenty of great instructables both here and all over the web, so I won't reinvent the wheel in this one, but this should be everything you need to get up & running.
Not starting with a pre-built plastic container as the main housing means some extra steps, time, and care, but for me the final product is worth it.
Step 1: Gather materials
- (3) found dresser drawers
***Before you get the other materials, take careful measurements and know what you're working with. The length and width of any drawer determines the size of the screen/basket(s) you'll need; the height of the bottom drawer determines the height of the ABS pipes, etc.
- 1 piece of 2" diameter PVC pipe (length should be the total height of all drawers stacked, or slightly longer)
- 3 pieces of 3" diameter ABS pipe (about 1/3 of the total height)
- 2 plastic baskets (or something stiff and porous enough to serve as a nontoxic, waterproof, weight-bearing screen)
- outdoor stain & sealant combo wood finish, or paint for waterproofing
- wood glue
- utility knife
- wire, string, or cable ties
- landscape tarp, opaque plastic bag, or river rocks
- potting mix
- plant(s) or seed(s)
- painter's tape (to prevent bleeding)
- tarp or old newspapers (for easy cleanup)
- river stones or rocks (as one more layer between the soil & water reservoir, and as a topsoil cover)
- Leatherman (it just feels good)
*from the hardware store, .99 store, nursery, your local curb, or the Craigslist free section