Introduction: PVC Hydroponics Unit
BTW I haven't stolen this tut, it's just from my blog (chunkyonchia.com) and I thought I'd share here too! This hydro is successful and low cost and high yield. It's a beginners set up. I was inspired by this instructable.
So why Hydroponics?
I’ve always associated hydroponics with poorly grown marijuana and mass-produced low-taste/nutrient food. Well, I’ve been studying up recently, and I’ve come across a few interesting facts
- 90% less water usage
- 20% faster growth
- 30% more growth
- complete nutrient control
- less plant stress – roots are fed all they need
- no fertilisers leaking into ground water
- Not much $ for up-keep
- plants die quickly without nutrients
- If there are gaps of light, algae can grow
- Bigger setups can deprive lower levels of enough nutrient
- Can be expensive
I’ve read in a few places that hydro isn’t natural or healthy, but it seems to me that providing all of the food your plant needs is as natural as it gets. Instead of the roots reaching out on a constant quest for nutrients, they get to spend more time growing up top.
We all know I love a good project! This was something I wanted to build without spending too much money. I have read that a few set ups cost $100’s, but I knew I could make it for less. Mine cost approximately $150 – including plants, food, and an attachment that I will talk about in another post. So the mechanism itself cost around $80 to make from brand new.
I have made a ‘Nutrient Film Technique‘ system – whereby nutrients are continuously flowing over the roots, allowing for lots of oxygen and food – more info here. Gravity does much of the work! The water trickles down past all of the plants, then falls into the box at the end. This box contains a cheap water pump, which pushes the water through a hose and back to the top of the pipe, to repeat the cycle. You add the plant food into that box.
Step 1: Assemble Your Gear
- 4 straight pipes of PVC (you can use more or less though I recommend that you don't make it too much longer than this as the plants down the bottom may end up with less food and suffer as a result of this!)
- 8 PVC ends with a 90* curve
- 1 PVC flat cap
- PVC glue
- Big tub (it's a preference that the tub not be transparent as this can increase algae growth)
- small water feature pump
- length of hose pipe
- 2 pallets
- plastic cups
You'll need a drill. I actually used a dremel to cut the holes.
A permanent maker needed for measuring the cups
Step 2: Cut Out the Cup Bits.
Take one of the plastic cups and cut it in half. You will need this to know how big your cup slots need to be. Measure out with a permanent marker. Space the cup marking along the PVC pipes, evenly.
Use your dremel to cup the holes.
You can see in my pic above that I messed up, and drew a few holes and they weren't spaced nicely!
Step 3: Assemble the Thing
This bit is the sucky part, and if you have someone to help, then use them. I did this alone!
- Connect the four lengths of PVC, and attach the corner pieces to each end. Don't glue yet.
- Arrange the PVC bits in the rough design, as seen in the pic - zig zag shape
- Use the rope to tie the PVC pipes on the approximate space on your pallet. Check that the 90*C pipe bits are able to match up and connect well. Remember gravity needs to pull the water downwards into the big tub at the bottom, so imagine you're making a wicked water slide.
- Use the PVC glue to connect both the PVC corner parts to the pipe AND to the connecting corners.
- Allow it to dry.
Step 4: Place the Cups in the Set-up
Check it all looks OK
You can also position the tub to sit under the last/lower PVC pipe.
Step 5: The Cups
I originally added holes etc for draining in the base of the cups, but found them unnecessary for the design I use.
I found cutting an X in the base of each cup was sufficient. I would feed my roots through, allowing them to dangle into the base of the PVC rivers. Or PVC water slides.
Step 6: Add You Water Set-Up
To make the water goooooo:
- Place the water pump in the base of the tub. The needs to have a lid, and a hole drilled in that lid for the hose pipe AND for the PVC pipe to flow into.
- Attach the length of pipe to it.
- Feed the hose up to the top pipe. It needs to spurt water up top continuously.
- In that flat PVC cap, drill a hole to fit the hose pipe through. This will keep it all sealed. I don't recommend gluing this cap one.
You can see it on the left hand side in the pic above.
Step 7: Place Your Plants in the System
Check all of your roots are hanging into the water stream. If your plants are a bit wobbly in the cups, I sometimes add rocks or perlite into the base of the cups, to add some steadiness.
This pic shows the difference of plant growth -
TOP PIC is the Day 1 of Week 1
BOTTOM PIC is Week 3
Step 8: Enjoy Your Hydro Plants!
Buy some plant food.
Use a half strength nutrient solution to start your plants off, moving to two thirds to full dosage rate (as detailed on the bottle) after the first nutrient solution change (about 7 – 10 days after planting).
Change nutrients every 2-3 weeks
check pH often (between 5.8-6.2pH trim roots frequently give your plants love
THIS PIC WAS TAKEN ON WEEK 10