Growing plants in small places, or growing more plants in big spaces requires some shelving smarts. Here is a short explanation about a small system that is easy to build and relatively low on maintenance.
Step 1: Bill of Materials
First a good helping of green fingers, by which we mean, don't be afraid to handle dirt.
The system is fairly cheap.
2 Shelves: get the cheapest shelves if possible aluminium (water makes things rust). If you're lucky like me the whole system will fit as if it was made for it.
Incubator: 1 incubator holds about 40 seedlings, more than enough to feed the whole system.
2 Swedish hydroponic plant grow medium. comes with its own instructions.
4 Big plastic drawers to put soil and 3cm plant granulate on the bottom.
1 El-cheapo sprinkler system.
1 Bottle, with a narrowed neck.
Hot glue gun.
Top shelf: plant incubator, seedlings
Third shelf: hydroponic plant grow medium from you favorite Swedish (pictured). Lettuces work well.
Second shelf: big plastic drawers for large growing things with reasonable roots (tomatoes, lettuce, radish, small carrots.)
Bottom shelf: big plastic drawers for "walking about" plants like pumpkins.
Step 2: Drilling Holes
Your'e going to be drilling a lot of holes:
Into the top shelves to hold the sprinkler system,
Into the drawers so as to have the water flow.
Step 3: Fastening to the Top Shelf
The hydroponics will be watered from above. This system needs to be fixed on the top shelf, Drill some holes big enough to pass the tie wraps through.
Step 4: The Bottle Cap Fixture
Start by drilling a hole that is just a teency wincy smaller than the tubing you got with your sprinkler system.
Step 5: The Bottle
Pull the tube into the cap, and add a serous amount of hot glue around it inside the cap. Be careful no to put glue on the inside edges of the cap otherwise the bottle will not screw on the cam anymore.
If accidentally you did put hot glue into the screw groves, finish adding the glue to fix the tubing and proceed to screw the bottle on the cap before the hot glue cools down.
Step 6: Cutting the Bottle
Use a cutter to make a hole in the top of the bottle so as to be able to add water.
Step 7: Hang Up the Bottle
Tie wraps... and the reason why choosing a bottle with a specific neck is important.
Step 8: Preparing the Hydroponic Shelf
Start by drilling a hole at the right water level.
If you're lucky like me you've already been using the system and there's a nice water level marking.
Make sure the holes are at the same level... otherwise you might end with one shelf having too much water. I used one of the T bit plugs to get all the holes at the right height.
Schematic of the tubing-to-be:
Top shelf: bottle
Third shelf: [hydroponic-(hole)]-tubing-[(hole)-hydroponic-(hole)]-Tubing ( T piece)
Second shelf: [drawer-(hole)]-tubing-[(hole)-drawer-(hole)]-Tubing ( T piece)
Bottom shelf: drawer- drawer ( no holes here)
As you can see some drawers only need a single hole, and some a hole on either side.
Step 9: Don't Do This
Hot glue is a joy to use, and to fix the plugs it is tempting to dab that thing over and push the plug in... however this risks the plug itself getting glue into it... and we don't want that.
Step 10: Do This
Take a plug, add a little glue around the edge and push it into the hole.
Nice, tidy, leak proof.
Step 11: Tubings
Before you start cutting tubes start counting the stuff you got with your sprinkler set.
You'll want to have the "leakers/sprinklers" evenly over the shelves. so if you got 12 heads, that'll mean 4 for each level with 2 heads for each drawer.
Assemble the whole tubing for each level before moving them into place.
For each level I prepared:
1 short tube, to plug the drawers into each other.
2 long tubes: plugs into level above and into same level drawer T piece)
2 more long tubes
1 short tube: the U bend to fix the set of tubes to each other.
tube(going to T piece on drawer above)-sprinkler(drawer1)-tube-sprinkler(drawer2)-Ubend-sprinkler(drawer2)-tube-sprinkler(drawer1)-tube(plugged into T piece drawer1).
Step 12: Fixing Tubes
Use the tie wraps to fix the tubes
Step 13: Try Not to Have Tubes Hanging Like This
Water tends to go to the lowest sprinkler point first (more pressure == more water coming out).
Step 14: Hook Up the Bottle
Hook up the bottle,
And you're done for a simple system....
BUT we have more shelves and drawers to do!
Step 15: Remember Those T Pieces?
When water goes to several levels, it's easy to make the system simply in "overflow".
As in: if an upper level is full the water overflows to the next level.
This is nice, but it would be a shame to leave some pieces with the sprinkler set unused. So lets use those taps that came with the set shall we?
Step 16: Round and Round the Water Goes.
By using T pieces and taps it's now possible to direct the flow of water a little.
Bottle -upper level-
- direct tap or overflow previous levels - third shelf-
- direct tap or overflow previous levels -second shelf
- direct tap or overflow previous levels -bottom shelf
All you have to do now is replenish the bottle every now and then and the plants should grow happily.