Posted by CD Aquatics on Apr 20 2023
As the warmer months approach, now is a great time for home gardeners to try hydroponics. If you’re lacking in garden space, or have no outdoor space at all, a hydroponic system may be the perfect solution for you. Some pre-made hydroponic systems can cost hundreds of pounds, but if you’d prefer to save money, why not consider a homemade hydroponic system? Armed with supplies including PVC pipes, a pond pump and some DIY magic, you can create a DIY hydroponic system for indoor or outdoor use.
You can grow almost any plant using hydroponics, however, growing salad vegetables is a firm favourite with novice hydroponic gardeners. Hydroponic tomatoes, lettuce and spinach are all relatively easy to grow in both indoor and outdoor settings. Hydroponic strawberries can be grown all year round, which is one of the benefits of gardening without soil. When choosing hydroponic plants, avoid top-heavy plants as the roots may struggle to support the weight since they float in nutrient water and are not buried in soil.
There are many different ways to set up a hydroponic system at home, but this system uses the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). This technique requires the growing tubes to be set at an angle so that with the help of gravity and a pump, nutrient-rich water can flow continuously over the hanging roots of the plant. The plant’s roots aren’t completely submerged in the water, instead, a thin layer or film of nutrients covers the roots of the plants as the water flows.
To save space, this hydroponic system will be built and fixed to a wall at an angle, however, you can build a simple frame using additional PVC pipes with elbow and tee fittings if you have the space.
Here is a list of the supplies you’ll need to set up your NFT hydroponic system:
An open-top, water-tight container for the reservoir. This container needs to be able to hold between 30 to 75 litres of water.
2 PVC pipes (4” wide)- The length you choose will depend on how big you want your hydroponic system to be and how many plants you want to grow. Shorter pipes are a good choice for beginners as the plants will receive equally concentrated amounts of nutrient solution. Systems with longer pipes need to have the PH levels checked regularly as the nutrient and oxygen levels in the solution reduce when the water has to flow further.
2 PVC pipes (2” wide)- These should be around 12 inches long
3 PVC pipes (2” wide)- each piece should measure 4 inches long
1 End cap (4” wide)
3 x 4” wide PVC pipe reducers (these allow the 4-inch pipes and 2-inch pipe to connect
3 Elbow joints (2-inch diameter)
4 Pipe clips (4-inch diameter)
Net cups (2.5-inch diameter)
Pond pump - a pump that can deliver around 2100 litres per hour should be sufficient
Hose for the pump
Plant nutrient solution
Plants (choose lightweight plants such as lettuce or herbs)
Waterproof adhesive to connect the pipes.
First, fix two of the reducers to the 2 large PVC pipes that will become the grow tubes. One end will be connected to the reservoir via a hose as an inlet and the other end will be connected to the grow tubes, via a series of small pipes. When connecting the pipes, use a waterproof adhesive to prevent any leaks.
Make equally spaced markings along the large PVC pipes in preparation for drilling 2-inch holes. The holes need to be a little bit smaller than the net pots so they’re a snug fit.
Using a hole saw, cut 2-inch wide holes into the pipes using the markings as a guide. Smooth the holes with sandpaper to clear any debris. Repeat this step on both large PVC pipes to create the grow tubes for this project.
Next, it’s time to connect the pipes to create the system. This will be done while attaching the grow tubes to the wall. Take the first tube and fix it to the wall using the pipe clips. Using a spirit level, make sure it is fixed at an angle.
Then, take one of the 4” long pipes and attach it to the larger PVC tube via the reducer. Then fix one of the elbows to the 4” long pipe. Next, take the 12” long pipe and connect it to the other end of the elbow.
Add another elbow to the end of the 12” pipe to be connected to the second grow tube.
The second grow tube will need to be attached to the wall before connecting it to the first grow tube. You may need some assistance with this part.
Attach another 4” long pipe to the elbow and fix it to the grow tube, then repeat step 5 until you have two connected grow tubes.
At the end of the second grow tube, attach the second 12” long pipe so it’s pointing down towards the reservoir. This will serve as an outlet for the water as it exits the grow tube and flows back into the reservoir.
Now it’s time to attach the pump. Fix the small pump inside the reservoir and attach the hose to the pump and the first grow tube. Switch the pump on to make sure the water is flowing through the system and coming back out to the reservoir.
Now it’s time to add the nutrients to the water in the reservoir and add your plants to the grow tubes. Then step back and marvel at your space-saving DIY hydroponic garden.
If you’ve been inspired to get into hydroponic gardening and you want to build a PVC hydroponic setup, CD Aquatics stocks many of the supplies you’ll need to get started with DIY hydroponics. Contact our friendly team who will help you to find the right pipes and fittings for a homemade hydroponic system.
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