Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in a liquid nutrient solution. The plants can either grow in a substrate or free-floating in a liquid nutrient solution. Hydroponics has a space-age reputation based on its use in greenhouses based in Antarctica as well as NASA research to develop hydroponic systems for use in space stations and colonies on other planets. But you can adapt hydroponics to your own home using very low-tech means and supplies that you can buy in your local hardware store.
Select a 5-gallon plastic storage tub with opaque sides. The roots of plants grow well in complete darkness. If you select a clear plastic tub, then you will need to place it in a cardboard box to block out light.
Cut a notch in the side of the container and a matching notch in the lid to allow an air hose to pass through the two walls. The notch should be located well above the water line of the box.
Place an aquarium air stone bubbler at the bottom of the storage box. Connect the bubbler to an air hose and attach the air hose to an aquarium air pump.
Cut four to six holes in the lid of the box that are large enough to push net water gardening baskets into, but small enough to prevent the baskets from falling into the box.
Push net baskets into each hole except for one and place the lid on the storage box. Grasp a marker in one hand and place your hand through the empty hole. Use the marker to mark a line along the inside of the box that is level with the bottom of each basket. Remove your hand and place the last basket into the empty hole.
Fill each net basket with perlite. Place a plant in the vermiculite in each basket.
Lift the lid of the container. Fill the box with a nutrient solution up to the marked line in the container.
Replace the lid. The perlite will wick up nutrient solution into the plants. As the plant roots grow out of the basket, the plants will absorb nutrient solution through their roots.