Hydroponics uses water and nutrients instead of soil, so plants conserve the energy normally used to form a large root system and produce more foliage and fruit. According to Merle H. Jensen of the University of Arizona’s Department of Plant Sciences, growing with hydroponics requires very few agriculture skills. Creating your own simple hydroponics system also takes little investment or special knowledge. There are complicated systems of hydroponics available, but anyone can have one up and running with a few step-by-step instructions.
Hydroponics System Construction
Drill a 1/2-inch hole, 1 inch from the bottom of the bucket.
Insert the plastic tubing 2 inches into the bucket hole. Seal the tubing to the hole with the silicone.
Drill a 1/2-inch hole in the side of the tub 1 inch from the bottom. This tub will be your plant bed.
Take the other end of the tube attached to the bucket and insert into the hole in the plant bed. Pull the tubing so 2 inches sit inside the tub. Seal with silicone. Let both the bucket and tub holes dry according to the silicone package directions.
Wrap the mesh around the tubing end inside of the tub. Secure it with the rubber band. This prevents your growing medium from clogging the tube.
Growing with Hydroponics
Pour the Leca, also known as lightweight expanded clay aggregate, or pea stone into the tub up to 1 inch from the top. Hydroponic growing mediums prevent plants from tumbling over as they grow. Leca clay pellets are commercial clay. Pea stone works well for tubs with several plants. You may also create your own growing medium by combining peat moss, vermiculite, perlite or polystyrene.
Fill the bucket with a mixed nutrient solution purchased from a qualified hydroponics dealer. Allow the nutrients to drain into the tub and growing medium; lift the bucket higher than the growing tub and place something under it so the liquid will flow into the tub.
Drain the nutrients back into the bucket after the tub medium is soaked by removing the leverage and lowering the bucket.
Plant your seeds or plants in the tub. Keep plants moist by raising and lowering the bucket as needed, usually several times a day. Place your hydroponics garden in direct or artificial light.
About this Author
Rhonda Abrons is a freelance writer in Austin, Texas. Specializing in Internet articles, she regularly writes for businesses supporting their online success. Over the last 25 years, her journalism experience led her work to be published in many newspapers including the "Austin-American Statesman" and the "Boston Globe." Abrons studied journalism and psychology at the University or Oregon.