Aerogarden is the brand name of a countertop series of aeroponic gardens. These devices allow home gardeners to grow herbs and other plants indoors using very little space. The design is attractive, but the price is prohibitive for many would-be countertop gardeners. Construct a similar do-it-yourself Aerogarden for less.
What Are Aeroponics?
Aerogardens work by growing plants aeroponically--without dirt in a high-humidity, highly oxygenated growing compartment. Since there is no growing medium, the roots are kept bathed in a nutrient-rich solution. Prices range from $79.95 to $209.95, and Aerogardens require special seed pods for each planting, at a cost of $14.95 or more.
Constructing an exact replica of a molded-plastic Aerogarden or other commercially-available system would prove difficult and pricey, but you can construct your own aeroponic or countertop growing system.
Building a DIY Aeroponic Garden
To construct a cost-effective aeroponic system, begin by obtaining a small aquarium pump and choosing a 50-quart (or other large-size) plastic storage bin with a tight lid, ideally in a dark color. Other needed materials include a section of PVC pipe, long enough to stretch the length of the storage bin and extend from each side, plus a few extra inches; a tee fitting; a rubber hose and adapter; glue; weather-seal tape; and netted pots to hold plants.
Turn the bin upside-down. Measure the container and drill two holes, one in each side, about two-thirds up from the bottom. Make the hole a bit smaller than the diameter of the PVC piping (for example, 7/8-inch hole for a 3/4-inch pipe) to ensure a snug fit.
Cut 2 or 3 inches from the PVC pipe and place the small section to the side. Cut the large remaining pipe in half and attach end caps to each section; use the drill to add three or four 1/8-inch sprayer holes to each half.
Gently slide the newly-made sprayers into the holes drilled into the plastic bin, ensuring the sprayers point upward. Once the sprayers are installed, take the small leftover 2- to 3-inch section of PVC pipe and glue one end to the tee fitting. Use the tee device to connect the two sprayers. Connect the adapter to the other end of the pipe. This will connect the sprayers to the hose.
Attach one end of the hose to the adapter mounted on the tee-fitting device; the other end attaches to the aquarium pump. Turn the bin right-side up, replace the lid and seal it with weatherproof tape. Drill holes in the lid large enough to drop in the netted plant holders; this exposes the roots to the sprayers.
Aeroponic Nutrient Solution
The system pump will be submerged in a nutrient solution. These solutions are commercially available from many sources, including online hydroponic and aeroponic suppliers, though you may also be able to find solution locally. The solution is circulated and continuously aerated; plants grown aeroponically should yield impressive results.