Aeroponic Barrel Garden

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Introduction: Aeroponic Barrel Garden

This project was a test I did to see how much food I could grow in a small space. A garden like this will work exceptionally well in both large and small yards and take up a fraction of the space of an average in-ground or raised bed garden.

Supplies

  • (1) 55-gallon barrel (food grade)
  • (50) 3/4 in. PVC 45-degree elbows
  • (1) 1in. PVC T connector
  • (1) 1in.slip x1/2in.screw PVC T
  • (1) 1in. x3/4in. slip adapter
  • (1) 1in. male endcap
  • (1) 1/2in. PVC male screw 1 1/2 in. long
  • (1) WaterMaster 360-degree sprayer
  • (2) 1"x3' PVC
  • (1) 1in.x 3/4in. 90-degree elbow
  • (1) 3/4"x 2' PVC -(1) 3/4" Hose/Slip swivel
  • (1) 2'x 3/4" Hose
  • (1) 1/4 horsepower pump - Waterproof silicone

Step 1: Drill Holes for the Elbows

The elbows are spaced 7.3 inches apart to the sides and 5 inches down. There are 5 rows of 10 going in rings down the barrel. I spaced the top ring 10 inches from the top edge of the barrel and the bottom ring ends about 5 inches from the bottom.

Step 2: Cut Holes for the Drain and Water Supply

In order to spray the roots of the plants, we have to put port in the top of the barrel for the sprinkler. I used a 1 3/4 hole-saw to put a hole in the center of the top. For the drain in the bottom, I used a 1 1/4 spade-bit for this. There was a ridge through the center of the of it, so I used a chisel to make it flush against the bottom.

Step 3: Attach the Elbows

This is the most difficult step. The holes that have been drilled for the elbows will be very tight and it will be very difficult to pop the elbows in. They have to be this tight so that there aren't any leaks around the elbows. I put a ring of silicone around the elbow, and with a little manipulating, they will fit snugly into the barrel.

Step 4: Add the Drain

In order to attach the PVC T for the drain, I had to use a PVC adapter on the inside of the barrel to slip onto the T connector. After I put silicone on it, I lowered it into the barrel with a smaller piece of PVC pipe and was able to hold it down and push the T onto it from the bottom.

Step 5: Connect the Water Supply

To hook everything up, I connected a short hose to the pump, and the hose screwed onto the slip/hose adapter. I used a short piece of 3/4 PVC to connect that to the 3/4" x 1" 90-degree elbow. I then ran a section of 1" pipe to the 1" slip x 1/2" screw T with an endcap on one side. I screwed the 1/2" PVC screw into it and then screwed the 360 sprinklers to that. Make sure you use Teflon tape so that the system doesn't leak.

Step 6: Conclusion

This garden grows plants without soil which provides the roots with more oxygen and can directly deliver nutrients straight to the plants. I use General Hydroponics fertilizer for my barrels and it seems to be working really well. I have to add more fertilizer every two weeks or so because the plants absorb it really quickly. I built an Arduino timer so that I had more control over how often the plants get watered, and currently I have the pump on for 5 minutes and off for 15, day and night.

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1 Person Made This Project!

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25 Comments

0
trien13pham
trien13pham

1 year ago

Thanks Benjamin for your posting! I've been looking to do some practical hydroponic gardening for a long long time and this is IT.
Just want to add a few ideas to make the project a bit easier:
1) I used a 1 1/8" hole saw for the 50 holes with a big spring inserted inside of it to eject the cut cores. The 1 1/8" diameter holes seal super tight around the inserted elbow so no need for silicone.
2) Use a torch/heat gun to soften the 1 1/8" holes before inserting the 3/4" elbows. Also, stick a screwdriver into the elbows to use as handle for insertion.
3) I put a pond pump in the bottom which connected to a sprinkler head inside to simplifying the set up.
4) For added safety, I added an GFCI protected outlet for the pump.
Thanks again and congrats!

0
lindbergh27
lindbergh27

Reply 12 months ago

I love these ideas! Could you post some pictures here showing your access points for inserting the pump, etc.?

0
NgadhnjimF
NgadhnjimF

1 year ago on Introduction

Thanks for sharing this.
I didn't see any arduino instructions. Would you mind sharing it with us please.
I have a hydroponic myself and an arduino and I need a more precise timer. I just don't know how to wire and program it.

Thanks

0
StefanoS48
StefanoS48

Reply 1 year ago

Hi, if you need it drop me a message and I will make the code for you!

0
Biodynamic
Biodynamic

1 year ago

Looks like a successful project. Well documented. You'll probably notice now that the caulk gun has a sort of pin attached near the front of it. You can use the pin to make the initial puncture through the foil. The pressure when you start squeezing the gun will open it up completely. My only suggestion for your setup would be to use the barrel upside down. If you have the caps for the bung holes, there is usually a female threaded section in the middle of the cap. You can buy threaded PVC to insert directly into the bung cap and save yourself the worry of a leaking barrel. I've made rain barrels this way in the past. Congrats on being featured!

0
ekbruster
ekbruster

1 year ago

You could have just taken the top off the barrel and put the pond pump in the barrel with a PVC pipe straight up to the sprinkler head in the barrel and eliminate the reservoir all together? Also could add additional misters in the line going up to ensure all the plants get equally sprayed. Most likely would still have to put in a drain to empty it out to replace your nutrient water occasionally, but great concept!

0
antioch
antioch

Reply 1 year ago

Additional misters would cost more and also need a stronger pump for even more cost. Questionable here when looking at this amount of greens.


0
MattG197
MattG197

Question 1 year ago on Step 1

How do you start the plants before inserting them into the elbows ?.

0
antioch
antioch

Answer 1 year ago

Has been answered all the way down, look for communitycurmudgeon's post.

0
RussInMM
RussInMM

Question 1 year ago

Very cool. When you install a seedling, how do you prevent it from falling into the barrel? What's holding it in place?

Also, can you recommend a pump? Do the pumps run on AC? (I'd like to use solar power for the pump, so DC would be more efficient if I can find one.)

0
Benjamin_Geils
Benjamin_Geils

Answer 1 year ago

For the seedlings, the angle of the elbows keeps them in place really well without the need for any clips or pins. The pump I used is in the materials list, and it’s AC. I couldn’t find a DC pump powerful enough to support multiple barrels. My intention was to run it off of solar panels but it would still need batteries to run it through the night. If you can find a way to run it on solar that would be AWESOME!

0
RussInMM
RussInMM

Reply 1 year ago

Cool. I need to read up on hydroponics supplies, I think.
Actually, your materials list only says "1/4 horsepower pump - Waterproof silicone", which is a description but not any kind of recommendation. Not a problem -- I can poke around and find something.
As for using solar power and operating at night -- yes, that's a pretty standard thing. You get panels, a charge controller, and a battery. If you can run off DC, you're done. If you need AC, you add an inverter.

0
crazymechanics101
crazymechanics101

1 year ago

This is awesome dude!! Love this: the design, purpose, concept, the end resulting plants, everything, it's all glorious!!

0
Benjamin_Geils
Benjamin_Geils

Reply 1 year ago

Thanks man!

0
Tennessee Smith
Tennessee Smith

1 year ago on Step 4

Bulkhead fittings are another option that seal well. You would probably need one that is internally and externally threaded in order to lower it in the barrel as you did. Although, I like the simplicity of your set up. I will be attempting my own version. For my situation it would be nice to have a secondary garden fabric cover on the outside to prevent bugs from eating the greens and give a bit of added frost protection. Great video! Keep it up!

0
shalnachywyt
shalnachywyt

1 year ago

This reminds me of when I lived in Martin County, FL, in the late 1970s, and was in charge of a commercial hydroponic greenhouse where we grew tomatoes for the local market. Of course, what you've got here is a very scaled down version.
I would suggest that you frequently check the Ph level of the water you're using to make sure it's not too acid or too alkaline, and adjust accordingly. Commercially, we used (believe it or not!) battery acid to make sure it was the right Ph. Nowadays, I cringe at that, but back then, as a young 20-something, I hadn't a clue!

0
szaffarano1
szaffarano1

1 year ago on Step 6

Seems you've found a great way to make an alternative to a tower garden, that is a retail product made through Juice Plus. I have a tower garden and 2 extra 50 gal barrels...and I plan to add to my growing volumes by making a pair of these. Thank you so much for the instruction!!

0
SammiV
SammiV

1 year ago

Thank you, Benjamin. Your instructions are very clear, and I love that you include your goofs...many of which I would probably have done without your experience to guide me. Gotta get me some barrels! I have tried to grow by the Kratsky method in a tote, but the water got too hot one day and did in my tomatoes. I didn't know one could use this spray method, which only involved three hours of actual pump use per 24 hours, so very little electricity expended. God bless!!

0
mtbike2
mtbike2

1 year ago

Could you please post a picture or link to the sprayer you used and the attachments? That would be great. Noicce instructible