Almost Free - DIY Simple Hydroponics

Introduction: Almost Free - DIY Simple Hydroponics

This is the completed box, growing Miriacle fruit & Mango (cuttings) with capsicum, alpine strawberries, butternut pumkin, and brocoli.
This cost me nothing apart from some hydroponic mix.

Move on to step one to see what you need..

Step 1: What You Will Need

The parts you will need.

1. Foam Box (Ask ur local supermarket, they throw them away and will usually give them to you)
2. Sharp Knife or Thin Saw (To Cut holes in foam)
3. Large Black Plastic Bag (At least one)
4. Pots (Hydroponic pots are better, but any with good drainage holes will work)
5. Hydroponic Mixture - Any Should Do..
6. Hydroponic medium (Perlite/Vermiculite) Or others
7. Seeds or Plant
Optional 2..
600 ml bottles
Seeds or plants

Option 3..
Baby Formula lid
Growing Plant Only
Requires no medium

Step 2: Cutting the Holes

To Start,lets cut holes in your foam box lid, using the pots base as a cutting guide. I find cutting with a stabbing like motions reduces risk of breaking it.
This will make a hole too small, but that what we want to start or you risk breaking the lid. Once you have a small hole run the sharp knife around the inside of the hole till the pot fits tightly.

(in between cutting holes remove pots and place on a firm ground)
You want the pots to sit tightly in the foam holes, but don't force them in if the hole is too small, you will snap the foam lid.

At least 2 inches of pot showing through the bottom, that will sit in the water by a centermetre or so.

Note you should use pots that have the same depth, as it makes it easier to line up the bottom of the pots so they have equal depth of water each.

Step 3: Filling the Base

OK, now with your base..
Line it with a black plastic bag, This is cause styrene used to make polystyrene can be absorbed by plants, making them unsafe for consumption and eventaully the plants will be sick.

Mix the hydroponic mix as per instructions (there are 2 many)
Mine suggests
(1/4 strength for the 1st week)
(1/2 on week 2)
(Full Strength after that)

Fill it 1.5 - 2 inches from the top depending on the depth of the pots used and the amount you have protruding through the lid.

Basically, until the roots can out grow out of your pot then you simply add less water and let the protruding roots suck up the water, not the medium in the pot, but to start with the medium needs to suck up the water so make sure that the pots are sitting in the water by a centimeter.

P.s. Once a week top up the fluid, water is fine, just remember how many litres and you can add hydroponic formula later

If plants drown or get sunlight on their roots they will droop, if they have too little nutrient they yellow starting with leave's veins.
Basically slighty more water is easier to manage, add to much nutrient and you'll kill the plants very quickly.
Hope that helps.

Step 4: Check Water Level & Start Planting

Put on the lid, and check water level, should fill till there is at least 1-2 cm of water.

Then there are a few options...
1. fill with moistened Perlite or Any hydroponic medium..
2. Plant seeds or plants into medium.
3. Just remember to check the water levels.

Removeable Recycled Bottle Option. (Picture with Strawberry)
1. Using the top 1/2 of 600ml bottle
2. Drill holes in the lids
3. Screw of lids, invert 1/2 bottle fill with moistened medium.
4. Place into pot, making sure that the cap sits in a little water
5. Plant Seeds or Whateva.

See Picture attached.. (Brocoli & Pumkin)
1. Using the lid off a baby formula (soft plastic kind)
2. And a pair of scissors make one cut from edge to the centre,
3. Make a small circle in the centre,
4. Put a plant into the hole in the centre and using 2 screws,
5. Screw the lid into the foam.
6. Then i taped up the clear lid with green eletrical tape to stop the light getting to the roots which can kill it.
7. So this grows with no medium at all!!! Quickest growth, not suitable for all plants, and occasionally you have to lift the plant so it doesn't strangle itself in the hole as it grows.

Make sure you wash plants roots, if they have previously growing in soil.
You don't want soil in your roots at all..

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    11 years ago on Introduction

     Using a soldering iron or heating up the knife can make more precise holes. This is how those CNC machines for cutting styrofoam work.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    get the boxes from the seafood dept at your store,I used the salmon boxes and it worked quite well


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Make sure to clean it well otherwise you might end up with a case of salmonella.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    vermiculite is harder and harder to find , wouldn't it be possible to just use 100% perlite..


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Vermiculite is by far the easiest thing to find in this list of materials. Perlite takes a bit more effort to find though. Only perlite might be alright, but that's not a gurantee so don't blame me if your plants die from using only perlite.


    12 years ago on Step 1

    One good way to cut styrofoam is with an electric knife, an other good way is with a hot wire cutter. Either way will make the cutting of styrofoam less messy. 3Frog


    i haven't ventured out into hydroponics, YET, but was curious if anyone thought of the same kind of concept being used to make seeding flats? maybe some kind of bottom watering type of thing using the foam boxes and cutting rows(like the 20row seed flat)or holes. i have a table that i'm not using and would like to come up with a complete system of seed rows with bottom watering, with a light and such...i'm good at coming up with the idea, just not how to make it work efficiently

    Mr E Man
    Mr E Man

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, seedling trays filled with hydroponic medium, sitting in a tray of water will work fine, just keep an eye on the roots, as the plants will quickly get root bound in smaller containers and need moving to something bigger. Just like soil gardening, but quicker. If you want check the PH of the water matches what you are growing. (pool test kits work fine) Plants grow better in the right conditions too, each plant is different.