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DIY Hydroponics - Building Your Own Hydroponics System


Building your own hydroponics system from scratch is easy, rewarding and lots of fun. Those who came to this page seeking complex plans and schematics will be disappointed to learn that do it yourself hydroponics requires no more than an understanding of basic hydroponic principles. Once you understand what is required for your chosen hydroponic method its easy to take a look around and find things that you can use to construct your system. Really your only limitation when creating your hydroponic masterpiece is your own imagination.

So an essential part of your successful DIY Hydroponics System project is to read the other pages of this site! No, this is not a shameless act of self promotion but good honest advice. Study the different types of hydroponics systems and decide which method suits your needs. Simple reservoir systems are the easiest to put together, very forgiving in operation and economical to run. Clever readers would have noted that one of the simple reservoir systems shown elsewhere on this site is actually made out of window planter boxes, the original drain holes have been plugged and new ones drilled to lift the water level up to an acceptable height so that the bottom of the planter box acts as a reservoir. Active hydroponics systems such as flood and drain or top feed systems do promote better plant growth as the flood/aeration cycle presents more optimal growing conditions but passive hydroponic systems will perform at least as well as gardening in soil and are cheaper to start off and learn with.

Tips for Building Your DIY Hydroponic System

When building your own hydroponics system let common sense be your guide. There are a few factors to consider when constructing your system, particularly when using second hand materials.

Most plastics are great for building your system but make sure that whatever you use can handle ultra-violet light reasonably well. Some plastics become brittle when exposed to UV light and frequent inspection is necessary. Regardless of what your pipes, tank or tray is made out of what was it used for in its previous existence? If it was used to store fuel or chemicals it may not be such a wise choice. Often residues can remain that would render your components toxic to the plants or even worse make your crops unfit for human consumption. I once commented to a learner that if she was unwilling to lick the inside of the plastic drum she was about to use for a tank then it probably was not a good choice and she should use something else. For legal reasons I should add that you should not go around licking the insides of drums, particularly if you dont know its history. Leave it alone if you dont know where its been.

Every join or union under the waterline is a potential leak. We have all heard the tale of the cannabis grower who found the police waiting for him when he returned to his apartment after a holiday. If he had taken additional care of a particular pipe and joiner he would not have flooded the apartment below him. Seal all joints effectively and design your system so that potential leaks will have minimal impact. If you examine our Top Feed Hydroponic system elsewhere on this site you will see that the tank sits under the hydroponic tray. If the drain pipe split or was not pushed in properly after a tank change the tray would still drain into the tank, just a little more noisily. Seal your seams with waterproof caulk or silicon and your fittings with PTFE (teflon) tape or rubber o-rings. If you use silicon make sure its suitable for use on aquariums, a mistake I have made myself in the distant past. Fiberglass resin can be used to produce good safe hydroponic components that are leak proof. Remember, if theres no join theres no leak.

When constructing your hydroponics system for indoor use you should also consider how much space you have. Some locations such as a roof cavity are ideal places to tuck your system away but if it has height restrictions you might find yourself limited as far has plant size is concerned. This problem is worse in active hydroponic systems where the nutrient solution must drain back into the tank making it necessary for the growing area to be higher than the tank. Measure before you build to ensure your chosen growing space meets your needs.

And the final thing to consider when foraging around for things to construct your hydroponics system with is the size of the container, vessel, tub, bath tub or second hand sink that you might elect to use. The larger your reservoir is the less likely it is that your nutrient solution will become depleted of nutrients or even worse, empty out. The more your reservoir holds the greater the buffering effect it will have. A cover will reduce evaporation though it is not necessary by any means. The grow bed should be large enough to accommodate the roots of the plant you are growing, although you can get away with a lot more with hydroponics in regard to plant spacing etc if your plant is not adequately anchored it will eventually fall over. As with the reservoir the larger grow bed will also provide a buffering effect against changes in nutrient strength and pH level. If you are using a flood and drain system the reservoir should hold at least twice as much nutrient solution as the grow bed or your pump may run dry during the flood cycle.