Introduction: Low Income Hydroponics System: Lettuce

About: I am happily married with one son, two dogs, a ball python, Russian tortoise, and many fish. I like to fossil hunt, all things Jeep, Walt Disney World, camp, hunt & fish, and garden. Anything new appeals t…

The goal of this project was to develop as cost efficient a system as possible that allows the (relatively) quick production of vegetables on a limited budget. Most of the items required can be purchased on or from your local hardware or pet store.

I set a goal of $20 or less to build out this system without any special skills required.

Step 1: Component List & Prices

1 - 18 Qt Hefty Tub $5.49

1 - Lettuce Nutrients $0.68

6 - 2" Plastic Grow Pots $1.08

1 - Air Stone $2.77

1 - Air Pump $7.12

1 - 2 Feet of Air Tubing $0.40

1 - Check Valve $1.88

6 - Rockwool $0.48

Total Cost = $19.90

Step 2: Setup

The system setup is quite simple and only requires a drill with one 1/4 inch bit and one 2 inch hole saw bit.


  1. Trace the net pot upside down on the inside lid of the Hefty Container. You want to leave room between each pot so you can fit 6 total on the lid.
  2. Use the 2 inch hole saw bit on your drill to drill out the 6 circles you just made on the lid.
  3. Switch to the 1/4 inch bit and drill a hole in the lid in one corner where you will run your airline tubing out from.
  4. Pick a very sunny window, or if you live in a warmer climate, a sunny outdoor location to place your system.
  5. Use warm water and fill the box with 4 gallons.
  6. Add in 5 tsp of the nutrient mix and mix well.
  7. Put the air stone in the bottom of the Hefty box and run the air line in through the upside down top and into the air stone itself.
  8. Place the lid on the bow upside down
  9. Install the Check valve between the air line coming from the air stone and the air pump. The check valve should have a small arrow on it indication the direction of the air flow - make sure this arrow is pointing towards the air stone.

  10. Insert the free end of the air line into the pump and plug in.

  11. Push the rockwool down into the net pots so that they are sitting in the water some.
  12. Add your seeds to the center of the rockwool once it has soaked up the water some - maybe 5-10 minutes
  13. Sit back and watch - just make sure to keep the water level up so that the bottom of the pots remain in contact. Once you have a strong root system, they can easily pull the water up if it slips below a little

Step 3: Plant Seeds

Once you have the setup complete, simply plant your favorite seeds in the rockwool and sit back. I have been harvesting lettuce in 24-28 days...

Enjoy your inexpensive and healthy crop!

Step 4:

Indoor Gardening Contest 2016

Second Prize in the
Indoor Gardening Contest 2016