Intro: Vertical Hydro Veg Patch
In this instructable i'll be showing you how i converted some left over roof guttering into a spiffy vertical hydroponic veg patch. I've had this running for a couple of summers now using a slightly a different hanging system with good results and it's only cause I broke one of the hangers that I decided to take it all down , strengthen everything , sort out a couple of bugs and publish it.
anyhow on with the show...
Step 1: Hardware You'll Need
A container to act as a water reservoir (here I'm using this big black bucket.)
A garden pond pump (the more powerful the pump the higher you can build your garden.)
Some aquarium air tubing (it's cheap enough so just buy a little roll and stash what you don't use.)
Some assorted nuts and bolts
A cheapo washing line
Growing medium (I've used clay balls before but here i'm using perlite)
Some plastic wire mesh ( the amount you need depends on how many levels your garden will be)
Some black plastic rain guttering (it doesn't have to be black but i figure black does a decent job of absorbing heat and so will heat the plants nutrient solution slightly, again how much guttering depends on how high you want your garden)
A couple of U nails to hang your garden from.
A wall that gets plenty of sun. (the size of the wall and power of the pump will determine how high your garden can be)
Step 2: Tools You'll Need
A glue gun
Some kind of cutting tool (a hacksaw will work but i'm lazy so will use a dremel with a cutting wheel)
Eye protection ( don't want any of those power tools blowing sharp plastic dust in your eyes)
Step 3: Prepare Your Wall
Here we have the wall i'm planning on using, it's about 8 foot tall by 4 foot wide and gets full sunlight for most of the day plus it's nicely shielded from most of the wind. I know from previous experience that i can get my pump to pump the water up to a level of about 5 foot ( i'll show you how to work that out in a later step) so allowing for around a foot of clearance between each level i'm going to build 4 levels.
We're going to need about 6 inch clearance on each side of the top level of the garden so hammer those U shaped nails into the top of the wall about 6 inches in from either end and make sure they are really secure.
Step 4: The Wall Part 2
Thread the washing line through the first anchor point and cut it off so you are left with 2 lengths of line hanging down the height of your wall then do the same for the second anchor point giving you a total of 4 lengths of line hanging down the vertical axis of your wall.
Step 5: Preparing the Pump
Put the aquarium pipe into the outlet of your pump, seal it there with the glue gun and hold it there till the glue sets. If you don't like the idea of using glue to seal the aquarium pipe in place then a bung with a hole through it for the aquarium pipe will do the job just as well.
Step 6: Testing the Flow of the Pump
Fill your bucket with water and place it at the bottom of your wall to one side (right or left it doesn't matter) then place your pump into the bucket and switch on (i've put a couple of thick tiles in the bottom of my bucket to help me get a little bit more height from my pump, just make sure the pump is fully submerged)
Take the end of the aquarium hose that will now have water coming out of it and slowly start to lift it higher and higher up the wall, as you move the hose up the wall you will notice that the pump can only move the water so far up this is where you need to cut off the excess hose, once you have cut off the excess hose water will again be coming out of the end but this time because of the height it will just be drops of water this is the height where you will want to mount your first planter so mark the wall here and move on to the next step.
Step 7: Making the Planters
Measure the distance between the cables hanging down your wall and cut a length of guttering a couple of inches longer (this is the top level planter) all the other planters need to be around 6 inches longer than this one so with this in mind carry on and cut up the rest of your guttering.
Place one of your newly cut lengths of guttering end down onto the plastic meshing and cut the mesh so it can be glued onto the end of the guttering. Once you've cut up the mesh hot glue a piece onto either end of each length of guttering you've cut
Step 8: Preparing to Hang the Planters
Take your top planter and drill a hole either side of where the lines hanging down the wall will fall do this for either end front and back. for all the other planters do the same for one end but for the other end drill the holes around 6 inches in ( see the next step where i'm hanging the planters to see what i mean)
Hopefully you've got a scrap or two of guttering left (if not you need to go scavenging for something) you need to cut some strips of plastic around an inch long by half an inch wide these need holes drilling through them to match up with the holes you've already drilled in your planters.
Step 9: Hanging the Planters
Bolt a plastic strip through the two holes in each planter at either end front and back don't tighten the bolts yet though you need to feed the line through the gap between the planter and the strip first.
Starting with the top planter (the short one) feed each line through the gap between the strip and the planter and finger tighten the bolts (the bolts are tight enough when you have to use a bit of force to pull the line through to adjust how the planter hangs)
Hang the top planter and push the water pipe through the mesh at one end (i put a small pebble on top of my water line to keep it in place) adjust the angle of the planter so the water flows down the guttering and off the opposite end to the water pipe.
Add the second planter with the extra 6 inches below where the water will exit the planter above it and slope this the opposite way to the first planter. Carry on doing this with all the other planter with the bottom planter directing the water back into the reservoir (bucket)
Step 10: All Done
Fire up the pump to make sure the water flows around the system in a circuit and adjust as needed then add your growing medium ( in this case i'm using perlite but clay balls work really well as well) put a couple of caps of liquid plant food in your water reservoir and add some seeds to the planters ( lettuce works really well and it's nice just being able to pop out of the kitchen when making a sandwich and pick some fresh) in the picture i've got red mustard , chives and radish growing from the previous grow.
Running: I don't run the system constantly, on rainy days I don't turn the pump on at all (let nature do the work). On sunny days I turn the pump on in the morning and adjust the height and angle of the planters to allow for a nice slow drip of water through the system (planter angle and heights need adjusting to allow for the growth of the plants roots obstructing the flow this doesn't need doing daily just as and when)
have fun and eat fresh
dok out :)
p.s. i totally forgot about doing it this time but it might be an idea to put a lid on the bucket to stop your cat/dog ect drinking it.