I am currently in the process of updating my indoor garden, and working on ways to increase yield, and the best solution that came to mind was to create a hydroponics system.
Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wood, or coconut husk.
Researchers discovered in the 18th century that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water.In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics. Hydroponics is also a standard technique in biology research and teaching.
For this system, I used a water fountain that someone gave to me some years back. I’ve been looking to construct a hydroponic system for a while now, and since the fountain wasn’t getting much use as of late, I started to think of other uses for it. Empty milk cartons serve as the growing compartments, with holes cut out in key locations to allow for various matter to be passed through them (straws/hoses, water ect.). The growing medium is hydroton, which is expanded dry clay pebbles.
I originally had three levels, but since I am using the pump from the water fountain, the water pressure is not strong enough to pump up to the third level, so I was forced to reduce it to two levels, however the system is designed to have as many levels as I have cartons. The top carton still has all the holes needed to expand.
The nutrient rich water is picked up by the pump, lifted via tube to the top of the system, where it is deposited into the top compartment. There are holes in the bottom of the compartment (the caps of both cartons) so the water can drip down to the next level. When the water makes its way back down to the bottom of the system, in the tank, it is pumped back up again, and the cycle continues. It is pretty much a constant supply of water and nutrients, that cycles around.
The two plastic container tops are melted together to create one solid structure, but the milk carton is free floating to allow for manipulation of the system.
I only have two Bok Choy plants in the bottom at the moment because I’m still in the process of evaluating the system, and seeing if there are any issues that may need to be sorted out before I move straight into full out planting mode.
The rest of the garden is moving along quite nicely.
I moved the carrots into a larger vessel since they are starting to mature quickly, and the former styrofoam bowl wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
I also added another batch of Bok Choy, and will keep cycling planting for a continuous supply of greens.