A hydroponic garden is designed so the roots of the plants grow in soilless planting media or nutrient solution. The plants are healthier and produce more vegetables than plants grown in soil. An indoor hydroponic garden is easy and inexpensive to build. This small system can be set in a windowsill or some other bright area near an electrical outlet to grow leafy vegetables or small herbs.
Use the drill and ¼-inch drill bit to drill two holes in the bottle cap. Drill a hole in one of the long sides of the ice cube bin or box as close to the bottom as possible.
Use the scissors to cut a piece of tubing long enough to fit in the bottom of the bin. Use the drill and 1/16-inch bit to make several holes in the tubing. Insert a straight-through connector in the hole in the side of the bin. Attach the tubing to the connector.
Insert a straight-through connector in each hole in the bottle cap. Cut a piece of tubing long enough to reach from the bin to the bottle. Attach one end of the tubing to a connector on the outside of the bottle cap and the other end of the tubing to the bin.
Cut a piece of tubing the same length as the bottle. Attach the tubing on the inside of the bottle cap to the opposite end of the connector that is attached to the tubing that runs to the ice cube bin.
Cut a piece of tubing long enough to reach from the bottle to the air pump. Attach the T-connector to the air pump. Attach one end of the tubing to the T-connector and the other to the remaining connector on the outside of the cap. Attach the bleed valve to the remaining leg of the T-connector.
Use aquarium silicone sealant to glue the tubing to each of the connectors on the bin, bottle cap and air pump. Let the sealant dry according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This will make the system water-tight.
Fill the bottle ¾ full of water or nutrient solution. Put the cap on the bottle. Plug in and turn on (if necessary) the air pump and close the bleed valve.
Open the valve slowly until the water moves through the tubing into the bin. Adjust the valve to maintain the air pressure inside the bottle for a steady flow of water when the pump is on. It may take as long as a half hour to empty the bottle. The air should leak from the bottle through the valve when the pump is off and allow excess water to drain back into the bottle. You may have to set the bottle on a lower level than the bin if the water does not drain out of the bin adequately.
Add soilless planting media to the bin. Set two or three small plants equally spaced in the planting media. Flood and drain the bin once or twice a day, depending on the type and size of plants.