Bubble-ponic System, Poor Mans Hydro Garden




Ever wanted a Aero garden but couldn't afford one, or do you just like gardening and trying differant things. Well here is a neat project to try with stuff most people have laying around!

--Tools needed for the build--
1.Razor knife
3.Drill bits
--Items for the build--
1.Old Cleaned out bucket or deep container with lid
2.Fish tank air pump (If you grow in a larger container you will need a larger pump)
3. Fish tank air tubing
4.Fish tank air stone
5.plastic pot for planting in ( must be smaller than bucket lid)
6.Light for growing your plant (i used a 60watt CFL bulb)
7. black trash bag (for covering the bucket)
--Items for pot--
1.Lava rocks
2.Coconut fiber

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Step 1: Clean the Bucket

step 1.
clean you bucket and lid  with warm soapy water dry off and let air dry completely.

Step 2: Air Hose Hole

Step 2.
Drill a hole in the side of your bucket just under the lid (so water wont leak out)

Step 3: Bubble Stone

step 3. secure you bubble/air stone to the bottom of your bucket (i used clear water-proof silicone) Make sure you let it dry completely before going any farther.

Step 4: Air Pump Connection

Step 4. Insert you air tubing through the hole you drilled on the upper portion of your bucket and connect it to the air pump and bubble stone.

Step 5: The Lid

Step 5.Now for the lid. What ever plastic container you are going to use as  your planter (whats going to support your plant) cut out an opening slightly smaller than the planter in the lid. a good planter idea is to use a round plastic container for storing leftover food.

Now check and make sure it fits and doesn't fall into the bucket. make adjustments if necessary. My hole was a little to big so i put rubber bands around my planter to make it fit.

Step 6: Planter Holes

step 6. now Take your planter and put holes on the bottoms and sides. size of holes is up to you but remember this is where the roots will grow through so they have to be decently sized. after all you holes are in your planter clean out the plastic shavings so they don't get in your bucket.

Step 7: Grow Medium

Step 7. Grow medium. you can use actual hydroponic grow medium called (hydroton) but i used what i had laying round the house.

I filled the planter with lava rocks and then placed some moist coconut fiber on top of the middle of the rocks.

Step 8: Water and Plant Food

Step 8. Fill your bucket 3/4 full with cold water add some plant food following directions on container

It would be more ideal to use veggie plant food but this is what i had so i tried it

Step 9: Lighting

You need a lap or light that can be adjusted above the plant as it grows. Use anything what will work, i used a lamp and a 60 watt CFL bulb.

Step 10: Enjoy!!

Step 9.
Plug in your air pump and plant your seeds

Do not turn on your lamp until after your seeds have sprouted

note you will need to change your water about every two weeks and add plant food and lower your water level once the roots reach through your planter

and soon your plant will be growing

Also i covered my container in black plastic because the light need to be blocked  from the roots. you can paint your bucket if you want. i didnt because i am just experimenting. and have not had any problems with my water turning green or anything yet.

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    20 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is my setup in my grow tent

    16, 4:54 PM.jpg

    8 years ago on Step 10

    I've built something similar before. You can also add a simple water level gauge to your bucket so you don't have to lift the lid to check it. Just drill a small hole towards the bottom our your bucket and seal a length of leftover airline tubing in it just as long as the bucket is tall. Tape the other end of the tubing to the side of the bucket, going up. The tube will only fill as high as the water level inside. I'm lazy like that. ;)

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    better than making a hole in yr bucket with chance of leaking, add a floater with a thin stick on top -piercing through the lid- that indicates how high the water is


    7 years ago on Step 4

    That is a bit unclear. The tubing has one end outside the bucket so end do you connect to the air pump and bubble stone?

    the outside to the airpump and the inside to the stone I presume??

    Would that be enough to keep the roots/plants wet? The aerogarden pumps water directly to th eplants

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Unlike the "aerogarden" which trickles water down the roots, with this system you need to keep the water level up to the basket so that the roots stay immersed in the nutrient solution. The bubble stone is important to be sure th roots get some oxygen.

    You might need to purchase some decent hydroponic nutrient solution, a tds meter, and a ph balance kit (ph up, ph down and ph indicator drops or meter). Paying attention to the concentration and ph of your nutrients is key to healthy, hearty plants.


    6 years ago on Step 10

    For lighting i would be sure to use a full spectrum daylight bulb of 26 watts or brighter. Use aluminum foil instead of black plastic to cover the top of the bucket, as well as the top of the lava rocks (or coarse perlite). Cover the walls with reflective mylar or use true white paint. Use primer first on unfinished or darker surfaces, like your paneling. These steps will make your lighting more efficient and your plants more robust.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    yes it can, thats why people should use vegetable nutrients.


    8 years ago on Step 10

    How did the Miracle Gro work for you? I have some of that same stuff because I am trying to do hydroponics the cheap way--did the plant ever fruit?


    8 years ago on Step 10

    That's actually a good idea with the lava rock, summer's over, might as well use up the grill bricks.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for sharing this nice setup. I am just wondering if there's any way that you can add several pots with it so that you can grow several plants? Did you have good results with the lava rocks? Some say that lava rock can raise the pH so high, have you encountered this problem?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i did not test the ph at all, but the plant seemed to do fine , if you can afford the actual hydroponic grow medium i would go for it, but i built this out of crap i had laying around, lol


    9 years ago on Step 10

    Yeah I too have got a mini one built out of a small tank that i spay painted , i had a breathing machine from the hospital for the bubbles. very loud...


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm guessing with just it being a bubbler it wasn't as big of a deal, but did you have sediment issues with the lava rocks?


    9 years ago on Step 10

    Great Plan!!! I also thought about the fish aquarium pump, but am going to see how the sonicare bubbling foot spa works. I think I will need lava rocks and styrofoam right on top of rocks with air holes poked in it for air release and plant support. I have posted my plan here if you look. Hope it works!!!! Good luck. Jman

    1 reply