Introduction: Cabbage Hydroponics

About: Hello I'm a college student that enjoys making things with machines and hand tools, using materials like metal, wood, clay, and plastic. I am trying to start my own business in making small crafts, jewelry and…

This is round two for Growing Things in Space Contest. Growing cabbage is quite a bit different than spirulina. Cabbage does not yield nearly as much in respect to nutrients, but cabbage is easier to eat compared to a spirulina nutrients smoothie. However cabbage is still a top contender when it comes to nutrients packed plants. It contains 1 gram of Protein, 2 grams of Fiber, Vitamin C, K and B6, Manganese, Magnesium, Folate, Calcium, and Potassium to boot! Along with some smaller concentrates of Vitamin A, Iron, and Riboflavin. With this Instructable it is a environment that requires less maintenance than the Algae Farm, so easier on the astronauts, and if need be, can be modified for a ambitious civilian.


Plexiglass Sheets

  • 4 - 20in x 18in x .25in
  • 5 - 18in x 18in x .25in

Plastic bags

  • 2 - 18in x 18in x .9in (or something close)

Full Spectrum LED Strip

  • 160in Long

Cabbage seeds

  • 16 (two per cube for redunduncy)

Styrofoam cubes

  • 8 - 1.5in x 1.5in x 1.5in

Soil (for civilian use)


Step 1: Some Background

I'm really into trying to save the world. I live in a state where I see firsthand how much land is WASTED on outdated farming and ranching. America is supposed to be at the forefront of technology and lead the world into a better place. One of the numerous problems though is that 60% of Americas land goes towards ranching and farming. This is really, really wasteful. Instead farmers should get just a little more techy, literally just a LITTLE more techy and start using hydroponics is a more efficient way. This more efficient way has already been developed in the true technological leader of the world Japan, well one of main leaders. A research lab called Chiba University in Japan developed a system for growing cabbage/lettuce that can produce 5-18 times as much cabbage per square foot compared to Americas ancient growing systems. The closest we have come to doing similar technology is a project that the University of Arizona did, about 7 years ago that was never followed up on.

Chiba University's system of growing grows twice as fast as normal crops because of the LEDs they use. It is a completely controlled environment so it makes everything from resources used, to waste created much more efficient. It is a sealed and sterile bunker so there is no chance of bacteria or pests getting in, which means no chemicals or pesticides are needed or used. Each plant is grown from a seed that starts in a little cube of styrofoam, so no soil is even needed. On top of that the use nitrogen infused mist to provide the exact amount of water needed, saving 90% of water that is usually used. After the plant is grown, it is transported directly to the bag for sale, no cleaning involved because of its sterile environment. Oh and did I mention that everything is powered by solar panels? To produce 20,000 heads of lettuce in ONE day!

This type of vertical gardening can be reproduced anywhere, even in the middle of the desert, ocean, anywhere because of how efficient it is.

Step 2: Design


Design is very similar to my Algae Farm. All the parts are made from acrylic, because it is sturdy, does not yellow, heat resistant and more. We will use energy efficient full spectrum LEDs and bags that will hold the water.

The main shift is going to be a slightly elongated design and that the water bags will be attached to a piece of acrylic with holes drilled through and a piece of styrofoam so that the cabbage will be able to grow. The styrofoam is to give structure, and to keep the water from leaking or moving around in the zero gravity. The partition will also have holes cut into it that allows the LED strip to be fed through and wrapped around so that light will shine both ways. Based off the space parameters this is the best space utilization I could think of with the least amount of materials used. The top and bottom bag/shelves can hold four cabbages each, that will grow to be about 9 inches sphere diameter. The holes that go through the shelf and bag will allow plenty of room for the roots to grow, only potential downside is they may try and strangle each other (unlikely).

Again, if anything gets broken, it can be easily fixed with things that are on-board, and when not in use can be drained and flat-stacked.


Instead of the bags full of water, just use soil instead and flip the box with the Front facing upward.

Step 3: Standard Operating Procedure

  1. Assemble the parts together. If possible make the bag and shelf a single piece part with a expanding silicon seal that connects them.
  2. Cut a small hole in the styrofoam cube and place two seeds in the cube.
  3. Fill the bag with water and glue the styrofoam with the opening facing the hole so the water is always encroaching on the seed.
  4. Within about seven days the seed should start sprouting, if it doesn't, try replanting.
  5. With another 2 weeks the bulb should start developing.
  6. Let another 3-5 weeks pass and the bulb will be able to harvest.
  7. IMPORTANT!!! In order to be able to harvest multiple times, you must cut the bulb out BEFORE it splits.
  8. To harvest you must cut the bulb out as close to the base as you can and DONT cut the larger outer leaves.
  9. Over the next few weeks small bulbs will grow.
  10. Harvest again when the bulbs reaches about 4 inch diameters.
  11. Repeat numbers 7 - 10 for as long as you can.


  1. All you have to do is fill the top and bottom gap with soil instead and turn the box on its back so water will leak down to the lower plants.


  • After the first harvest, the bulbs for the next harvest will be smaller when they need to be harvested.
  • Taking the assembly apart makes harvesting much easier.
  • When using soil it is best to empty out and refill periodically so plants get required nutrients.
  • When not using soil it is good to infuse nitrogen into the water.


Here are the Drawing Files with all the measurements you will need to be able to easily recreate all the parts.

If you cant work with acrylic you can also use regular wood for this project (Wooden Tops and Bottoms) and just make the sides with acrylic and screw them into the wood pieces.

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