When gardeners and horticulturist refer to hydroponics, they are referring to a method of growing plants without using soil. Instead, mediums such as pea-size gravel, clay pebbles and rock wool are used to hold the roots of the plant. A nutrient solution then drips over the medium, which then drips down the roots and provides food directly to the roots. Hydroponics requires less root space than soil applications, and when performed optimally, will encourage healthy plant growth.
Measure out a 6-inch diameter hole at the center of your bucket lid. Use your compass to draw the circle, and perform the cut with your box cutter. Drill a ¾-inch hole, 1 inch away from the edge of the lid. The large hole will support your net pot, and the tubing and power cord will run through the small hole.
Connect your ¼-inch tubing to the water pump, connect the dripper to the other end and set the water pump inside the bucket. Run the power cord and vinyl tubing through the ¾-inch hole. Fasten the lid on the bucket.
Set your net pot in the 6-inch hole and fasten your tubing to the net pot so the dripper is 2 inches away from the perimeter. Fill your net pot with the clay pebbles to the rim. Fill the reservoir with 2 gallons of nutrient solution. Set your seedling or small plant in the center of the net pot by moving the pebbles in the center aside. If you started the plant in a rock wool cube that is larger than 2 inches, remove some pebbles so it fits and the pebbles do not overflow.
Position the reservoir with your plant underneath a grow lamp. If you are using a fluorescent lamp, place it 6 inches away from your plant. Position mercury vapor and high pressure sodium bulbs 18 inches away from the plant. Position the fan so it circulates air continuously over the plants.