PVC pipe makes a great component for hydroponic gardening. Cheap and watertight, PVC pipe comes in a variety of sizes. You'll just need a hole saw and silicone sealant to secure the fittings to the pipe and prevent leaks. Follow some simple steps to set up your own hydroponic system using this versatile material.
Measure the area you can devote to your hydroponic garden. This will determine how much PVC pipe you need and how many plants you can grow.
If you have limited space, consider designing a vertical garden. In this design, connect lengths of PVC pipe with "U" fittings and anchor them on a wall. If you decide to garden vertically, secure the pipes to the studs or build a frame to support the weight of the pipe, plants and water.
Determine the width of pipe you plan to use. If you want to grow fairly small plants such as baby lettuces, a 3-inch or 4-inch pipe will prove sufficient. If you want to grow larger plants, you will need a 6-inch or larger pipe to accommodate the larger pots and root systems.
Drill a large hole at the location of each plant down the length of the PVC pipe. The water will drain out of these holes to water the plants; the size of the holes depends on the size of the plant and the pot in which it grows. Typical net pot sizes include 2, 3 and 4 inches. Leave several inches of space between the holes to avoid cracking the pipe.
Attach end caps to the pipe, then drill small 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch holes in the end caps.
Connect the Pump
Attach drain fittings to the PVC end caps, and connect these to the pump using 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch plastic tubing. (The size will depend upon the outlet on the pump.) Seal the end caps and "U" fittings with silicone sealant, and allow this to cure according to the manufacturer's instructions before adding water to the pipes.
Secure all the drain fittings, PVC connectors and end caps. Fill the nutrient reservoir with plain water and turn on the pump to test the system. It should pump water all the way to the top pipe, then drain down the plastic tubing back into the nutrient reservoir.
If the water does not make it all the way to the top level, either get a stronger pump or reduce the distance between the pump and the top level of the garden.
Add the Plants
Put a net pot in each hole in the PVC pipe. Fill the net pots 2/3 full with the growth medium of your choice, then plant your seeds or seedlings.
Mix concentrated nutrient solution into the water in the reservoir and turn on the pump. You have finished your PVC hydroponic garden.