If you’ve turned to google for some advice on how to start a bit of DIY gardening fun, you’re in the right place. Sure, having a conventional little garden to tend to is quite quaint. But if you’ve got limited space or, like me, are into instant gratification (well, not exactly instant, but still) hydroponics is the solution for you.
Hydroponics is an innovative way of growing plants using a water-based, nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. Plants grown by this method have smaller roots because of easier access to the nutrients they need. This enables them to divert their energy into leaf and stem growth. Done right, your plants will mature 25% faster and yield 30% more than plants grown traditionally.
The smaller roots also mean you can grow more plants in the same area, as they take up less space than usual. This is ideal if you don’t have enough space for an entire garden and can be implemented in greenhouses, balconies, and even indoors.
There are several different techniques and hydroponic systems available. In this article, I’ll be teaching you one of the easiest ones: the deep water culture (DWC) or reservoir method. Read on to learn how to make it yourself at home in the form of a 5-gallon hydroponics bucket.
Things You’ll Need
You only need a few things to build your own 5-gallon hydroponics bucket. You’ll probably find you already have most of them at home:
Once you’ve got the proper supplies, setting up your DWC system should take less than an hour.
- 1If your bucket is not light-proof, you’ll need to spray paint it black. This is important as light encourages the growth of algae, which can kill your plant. Then you’ll paint it white to be able to reflect light, because you need to keep the water temperature cool for the root zone.
- 2Next, you’ll need to cut a hole (or holes) in the lid to fit your plant pot in. You’ll skip this step if you’re using a net pot bucket lid.
- 3Now you’ll assemble your air system. Cut a piece of the air line and fit it on the air pump. Connect the other end to the check valve (make sure the valve is connected in the right direction). Then cut another piece of air line long enough to connect the check valve to the airstone at the bottom of the bucket.
- 4Add the growing medium to the net pot, and insert your seedling or plant. If you’re taking your plant out of the soil, be sure to rinse it off first so as not to contaminate the water.
- 5The last step is to add water and mix your nutrient solution following the manufacturer's instructions. The water level should be high enough so that the growing medium is moist 2-3 inches down from the top, and the top inch is dry. After the roots start hanging down you won’t need to worry about the water level.
This DIY 5-gallon hydroponics bucket is relatively inexpensive and easy to set up compared to the commercial versions available on the market.
With a few simple supplies and minimal effort, you’ll have your own home garden up and running within a few weeks.
Whether you’re growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs, once you try this fun and sustainable method, you’ll never want to go back. Happy gardening!