Hydroponic gardens offer a way to have fresh herbs and vegetables year-round, regardless of the climate or weather. Commercial hydroponic machines are available for home gardeners, but they can be expensive. You can build a hydroponic machine in an afternoon, from materials available at any large garden center. Choose the location for your hydroponic garden carefully. The machine is designed to avoid overflows and leaks, but they can happen whenever you have circulating water.
Build the Hydroponic Machine
Fit the drill with the 1/2-inch bit. Turn the 10-gallon bin upside down and drill a 1/2-inch hole near the center. Drill a 1/2-inch hole in the lid of the 20-gallon bin. Drill another 1/2-inch hole near the edge of the lid.
Switch to the 3/4-inch bit. Drill a 3/4-inch hole near the 1/2-inch hole in the 10-gallon bin. Leave 3 to 4 inches of space between the two holes. Drill a 3/4-inch hole in the lid for the 20-gallon bin, also 3 to 4 inches away from the first hole.
Follow the manufacture's instructions to install the drain fittings and riser extension in the holes you drilled in the 10-gallon bin.
Place the submersible pump inside the 20-gallon bin. Thread the power cord through the 1/2-inch hole near the edge of the lid. If you do not have a power outlet nearby, run an extension cord.
Connect the 1/2-inch tubing to the pump. Thread the tubing through the 1/2-inch hole in the lid. Fill the 20-gallon bin halfway with water. Put the lid on the 20-gallon bin.
Connect the 1/2-inch tubing to the 1/2-inch drain fitting in the 10-gallon bin. Connect the 3/4-inch tubing to the 3/4-inch drain fitting and thread the other end through the 3/4-inch hole in the lid of the 20-gallon bin. If the tubing coils in the bottom of the 20-gallon bin, use the knife or scissors to trim it.
Turn on the pump and verify that the water circulates through the system and drains back into the 20-gallon bin.
Add the Plants
Fill the 10-gallon bin with HydroClay pebbles. Rinse with water, then drain the bin.
Plant the seedlings in the HydroClay, just as you would in potting soil.
Fill the 20-gallon bin with water, then add concentrated nutrient solution following the manufacturer's instructions.
Set the 10-gallon bin on top of the 20-gallon bin. If the drain fittings are bent, use blocks of wood to raise the 10-gallon bin.
Connect the timer to the pump. Set it to turn on for 15 minutes every hour. This will ensure that the plants get the nutrients they need without over-watering.