A great garden used to depend on good soil. Not anymore. It is possible to grow plants without soil. Hydroponic gardening is the term used to describe soilless gardening techniques. Plants require nutrition that naturally exists in various types of soils. Hydroponics incorporates this same nutrition in liquid form to sustain healthy plant growth. You can make a passive hydroponic garden at home by supplying your plants with the proper nutrition, sunlight and moisture requirements.
Select a container for your garden plants. Choose a broad, waterproof container to hold your hydroponic garden. A Styrofoam box with a lid works well for this purpose. Purchase small seed pots and cut holes in the Styrofoam lid to allow placement of the pots. Push the pots into the holes until the rim is level with the surface of the Styrofoam lid. Cut one more hole in the lid for adding nutrients and water.
Fill the seed pots with a mixture of vermiculite, sand and perlite. This mixture takes the place of soil used in traditional gardening to support the plants' root systems. Place your selected seeds on top of your soilless mixture in each pot.
Select a hydroponic solution for mixing with water. Purchase a prepared mixture formulated for use with hydroponic plants and mix according to the package instructions. Many gardening centers and landscape businesses sell an assortment of hydroponic solutions. Fill your Styrofoam container with solution to a level just below the bottom of the seed pots. Moisten your seeds by placing a small amount of solution in each seed pot.
Place your hydroponic garden in a sunny location or under a grow light. Attach the aquarium pump inside your tank. If your pump has a timer, set it to cycle three times a day for a period of one hour each time. Manually turn on pumps without timers to provide periodic cycling of your solution in the container. Replace solution as needed to keep water at a level just below the bottom of your small seed pots. Watch as the roots extend downward into the solution during maturation. A small air space between water and pots provides adequate oxygen to hydroponic plants. Harvest plants as they begin to produce fruits and vegetables.