There are many different ways to build a hydroponic drip system. The growing mediums can vary drastically, while the containers used to hold the plants can vary as well. Nevertheless, there are some basics that all of these methods involve. Plants grown with drip systems must have a constant supply of nutrient water and proper drainage. These plants must also have their roots protected from light to prevent algae growth. As long as you take these basic precautions, you can improvise a plethora of drip systems, providing an inexpensive system for your plants.
Rockwool Drip Systems
Using materials such as rockwool or grodan for drip systems is probably the easiest way to build your own drip system. These types of synthetic soils are reusable and hold the correct water and air ratio. Rockwool and grodan do not require net pots or large reservoirs for nutrient solutions. A water pump is typically used to continuously drip water over the grodan; it drains into a smaller container that allows it to be recycled to the dripper that is positioned over the plant's roots. Although rockwool and grodan make for an easier setup, these types of growing mediums tend to be fairly expensive and are not likely to provide the same amount of root space that other methods of drip systems allow.
Drip Systems with Clay Pebbles
Clay pepples or clayton are good components for drip systems. They are inexpensive, reusable and strong enough to provide support for large plants. Their function is to hold the plant in a net pot that is anywhere from 2 inches in diameter to 6 inches. Water is dripped over the top of the pebbles while it drains off of the roots into a reservoir, and then is recirculated. The danger with clayton is that during a power failure, the plants are likely to get either waterlogged or completely dried out. This can happen within minutes of a power failure if the plants are not given attention immediately.
You can use reservoirs of all shapes and sizes for hydroponics. Many growers choose something that they already have to save money. Try 6-inch PVC pipe. Drill 3-inch holes along one side for net pots to fit into. You pump a nutrient solution over the plant's root structure, drain it into the pipe, and then recirculate it to the top of the roots. You can alos use any sort of plastic container or bucket with a lid for these types of drip systems. You simply drill holes through the lid to hold the net pots.