So... I've recently decided that I wanted to build myself a mini hydroponic herb garden and so naturally, I came onto instructables to find out how to do so. However, the instructables that I found all involved a simple airstone/grow pot hydroponic set up which, while simple to build, didn't fulfill what I was looking for in my herb garden.
After some research online, I decided that I wanted a ebb-and-flow system in order to best grow the varying types of herbs that I wanted to grow.
Having been to this site multiple times and gained plenty of knowledge from it, I decided that I should post up the process of how I build up my own mini hydroponics herb garden.
Step 1: Spray Painting
So, I went out to Bunnings (aussie version of home depot) and got myself 2 plastic containers, 1x8L and 1x15L.
They only came in a transluscent colour and so, knowing that roots don't like light, and that leaving a tub of nutrient solution in direct sunlight can be a very bad idea for algae control, I went ahead a spray painted both containers a nice flat black on the outside.
Step 2: Drilling a Hole for Attaching Your Bell Siphon
Drill some holes.
How I attached my PVC piping is by purchasing 1 PVC to male coupling and 1 PVC to female coupling. I then place an o-ring, threaded my male coupling through the hole, placed another o-ring, and screwed on my female coupling.
Tadaa~ A water-tight seal accomplished.
Step 3: Creating and Refining a Bell Siphon
So the Bell Siphon has been undoubtedly the most finicky and frustrating part of this entire project. Getting it to work flawlessly was a complete nightmare requiring hours upon hours of reading up on the internet, testing it, running into a problem, making some fine adjustments, succeeding, and then it failing to work again on the next cycle.
While researching, I chanced upon, on the forums, Affnan's principals. One should definitely read that page if you're building and designing your own Bell Siphon.
Major ideas include that you need to have a wider point for water entry, in order to generate enough pressure to start the siphon. How I did this was to get a fruit-ball-scooper thing from my kitchen, heat up both the PVC pipe and the scoop, and then pushing it down firmly. Success!
Step 4: Creating and Refining a Bell Siphon (continued) - Bell
Next up was building the bell, which was fairly straightforward.
I used a piece of PVC pipe twice the width of the overflow pipe. Attach an end cap, drill a hole in the end cap, and attach a snorkel. Secure with cable ties.
I realised that 4 small holes at the bottom were actually causing a bit of water resistance and hence the siphon wasn't quite starting as quickly as I wanted it to. So I drilled more and made sure that water could move freely.
Step 5: Creating a Gravel Guard
So I used an empty pill container, cut off the top and the bottom, drilled lots of holes, and then wrapped it up with a fly screen.
Step 6: Preparing the Resevoir
Drilled a hole on one end of the pump wire to come out of, another hole for the water outlet.
Place pump in. Voila~
Step 7: The Drain Pipe
Drill a couple of holes in some sprinkler tubing.
Step 8: Assembling
Fill with diluted hydroponics nutrient solution, add some hydroponic media, transplant some herbs, and there you have it: Your very own hydroponics ebb-and-flow herb garden.
P.S. It's still to early to know if the plants will survive, much less thrive. I hope they do, and that I can look forward to an endless supply of fresh herbs.
P.P.S. Somewhere down the line I am considering converting this into a mini aquaponics system. It should be as simple as changing the reservoir to something suitable for fish to live in.