Verticle Aquaponic System Similar to Zipgrow!




Before we get started please know.

I would love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you may have. This is a passion project for me and that makes the work worth while. I hope to see what you do with the idea.

This is a verticle gardening system. It uses square gutter down pipes to grow vegetables and/or flowers. My system will focus on Strawberries and cherry tomatoes. I will fill the gaps with leafy vegetables like kale and lettuce or even herbs like Basil..

This can easily be modified for use inside. Use the Bolts to hang the pipes from the ceiling. You could raise the drainage pipe above tour reservoir. Lighting can be supplied by fluorescent lighting or LED strip lights.

For this project you will need.

110mm soil pipe and assorted angles.
110mm Soil pipe end caps.
Hole saw mixed set incl 3" and 25mm
Cut off Saw
Table saw
Square gutter down pipe, (as many as you plan on using)
Chalk line
1x M6 Stainless steel bolt +4x M6 nuts per tube
50mm Batton treated
Wood glue
Decking screws
Shorter stainless steel screws
Electric screwdriver.
Lengths of extra coarse filter foam.
or you can use Hay or expanded clay balls.
16mm irrigation pipe.
16mm irrigation fittings assorted
16mm inline particle filter
25mm cable grommets. 1 per tube.

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Step 1: Creating the Return Pipe Work.

You are now going to need your chalk line.

Start by creating a straight line from one end of your length of 110mm soil pipe to the other. This helps you keep your holes all on top of the pipe.

Next, measure your spacing. I chose 50cm gap as it gives you space for plants in every pipe to grow sideways. No use having too many pipes but they can't grow out and flourish.

Once you have chosen your own spacing you can drill your holes using the 3" hole saw.

Next, Use your downpipe as a stencil to show where you need to file away to fit your square pipes into your round holes. Then use your file and make the hole square.

Repeat. I did six holes per 3m pipe and it seems to work. more would be cramped and you would not have the option of a second row of pipes, cut to fit between this row. So if you really need more space then just make another row.

Lastly for this step, choose your location for your grow. Sun angle is important, especially if you want to grow fruiting plants. More sun is good, within reason. Now plumb the prepared soil pipe so that it drains into your sump tank.

Step 2: Now for the Down Pipes.

Using your cutoff saw, cut the gutter down pipes down to size. You need to cut the m to length before the next part or you risk shattering the pipe
I had a mixed level fence so I cut 4x1.8m and 2x2m pipes.

Now you need a table saw. You could get away with a cheap one but other cutting tools will leave the edges too tight and cut your fingers.

Set your guide to 2.5cm away from the blade. To cut 2.5cm wide strips of normal materials.

You need to cut slowly. Too fast and you chip and crack your pipe.

Take your 6.5cm wide, gutter down pipe and run it through the saw (Face side down). This will leave a single cut along the whole length of the pipe. Now turn the pipe around, (still face side down) but from the other end.

If you try to make the groove any narrower you will get a jagged result. At 1.5-2cm, the section you remove comes out as a single strip but narrower it chips away and leaves a very jagged edge.

This will leave you with a 1.5cm wide groove down the entire face of the pipe.

Now do the same for each pipe. In my case it was six pipes.

(You can now see the problem. The pipe folds inwards once that cut is made. We will deal with that soon.)

Step 3: Water Pipe Input.

If the grooved side of the pipe iss the front then you need to work on the back of the pipe.

You would have purchased cable glands, 1per pipe. Now it's time to fit them.

Place the pipe face down and using your hole saw, drill a hole to fit your gland about 5cm from the top.

Once your hole is drilled, fit a gland in the hole. This is where the 16mm feed pipe will feed into your pipe.

Step 4: Holding Your Groove Apart. Step1

Take your 50mm batton

Using your cutoff saw, cut 4x 6.5cm and 2x 16.5cm lengths for each grow pipe you are building.

Now, using your drill, drill pilot holes in each end of the 16.5mm lengths.

Now build those pieces into two, wooden "U" sections for each pipe. I used an offcut of Un-grooved down-pipe to make sure that the "U" shapes would fit around the pipes snuggly.

Once these are made, put them off to one side for the moment. We will fit them in the next steps.

Step 5: Holding the Groove Apart Step2

At the top of the pipe, above the gland, drill a 6mm hole from one side to the other, close to the front (With the groove.)

Now, Use your stainless steel bolt and nuts to hold the groove apart like in the images above. You need to try to make the pipe square again with the grooved (Face/front) side the same width as the back side.

Now it seems like it would be easy to just do this all the way down but you can only do this at the top or you will not be able to slide your filling into the pipe.

This bolt also acts as a way to hang the tubes if you plan to hang them from the roof or something.

Step 6: Holding the Groove Apart. Step 3.

Now to attach your "U" Pieces.

You need to choose a height in the middle and toward the bottom of the pipe. There you will drill a smaller hole from one side to the other, quite close to the front.

Next you will place the "U" piece around the pipe from the back, leaving the groove unobstructed. Now use the smaller holes and screw the pipe, from the inside, into the "U" pieces, now the groove should be open.

Take some sand paper and sand the inside edges of the groove. This will stop it's sharp edges from cutting you.

Step 7: Filling With Grow Media and Connecting.

Now you will need to fill the grow pipes.

I used specially cut lengths of filter foam. Two lengths fit together and slid inside the pipes. This leaves a tight slit in the groove where plants can be placed.

Other options include hay, expanded clay, long bristle brushes from filters or anything else that gives the plant roots a home to grip to and where their roots can grow freely.

Next you need to use the 16mm pipe fittings and lengths of 16mm pipe to Daisy chain the grow pipes together.

I am going to install a tap between each to allow you to control which is running at any time.

Step 8: Inserting Filled Pipe Into Drainage/soil Pipe.

Once the grow pipes are connected/Daisy chained, you can take them to the pre-prepared length of soil pipe with the holes.

Drop the bottom of each gutter down pipe into one of the square holes you made. Now, anchor or hang the top of each pipe to hold it in place. I used screw in hooks and cable ties to hold it in place.

You could hang them however you need.

Step 9: Finishing Off.

Once they are all in place, you are ready to plumb the 16mm pipe into the pump output. Make sure to use an inline filter to catch the solid bits and prevent blockages.

Unlike zipgrow towers, planting doesn't need to mean removing the filling from the pipe. I simply spread the groove a little wider then slot tlur seedling into place.

You may need to take out the filling later, after you harvest any one off plants, like lettuce. Long term plants, like strawberries can be left in the pipe long term.

That's it.

I hope that this instructable has been helpful. Mine is for aquaponics but this could work with hydroponics too.

Happy building!

Indoor Gardening Contest 2016

Participated in the
Indoor Gardening Contest 2016



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    3 Discussions


    Question 11 months ago

    where did you get the foam for your tower?


    Reply 2 years ago


    I hope it serves you well! If you build it, ofc