Image by Paul Goings
By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Nearly any plant can be grown with an aeroponic growing system. Aeroponic plants grow faster, yield more and are healthier than soil-grown plants. Aeroponics also requires little space, making it ideal for growing plants indoors. No growing medium is used with an aeroponic growing system. Instead, the roots of aeroponic plants are suspended in a darkened chamber, which is periodically sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution. One of the biggest drawbacks is affordability, with many commercial aeroponic growing systems being quite costly. That’s why many people choose to make their own personal aeroponic growing systems.
There are actually many ways to create a personal aeroponic system at home. They are easy to construct and are by far less expensive. A popular DIY aeroponics system makes use of large, storage bins and PVC pipes. Keep in mind that measurements and sizes vary depending on your own personal aeroponic needs. In other words, you may need more or less, as this project is meant to give you an idea. You can create an aeroponic growing system using whatever materials you like and whatever size you want.
Flip a large storage bin (50-quart should do) upside down. Carefully measure and drill a hole in each side of the storage bin about two-thirds up from the bottom. Be sure to choose one that has a tightly sealed lid and preferably one that is dark in color. The hole should be slightly smaller than the size of the PVC pipe that will fit through it. For instance, make a 7/8″ hole for a 3/4″ pipe. You’ll want this to be level too.
Also, add a couple inches to the overall length of PVC pipe, as you’ll need this later. For example, instead of a 30″ pipe, get one that is 32″ in length. At any rate, the pipe should be long enough to fit through the storage bin, with some extending out each side. Cut the pipe in half and attach an end cap to each piece. Add 3-4 sprayer holes within each section of pipe. (These should be about 1/8″ for a ¾” pipe.) Carefully fit taps into each sprayer hole, and clean out any debris as you go.
Now take each section of pipe and gently slide them through the holes of the storage bin. Make sure the sprayer holes face up. Screw in your sprayers. Take the extra 2″ section of PVC pipe and glue this to the bottom of a tee fitting, which will connect the initial two sections of pipe. Add an adapter to the other end of the small pipe. This will be connected to a hose (about a foot or so long).
Turn the container right side up and place the pump inside. Clamp one end of the hose to the pump and the other to the adapter. At this point, you may also want to add an aquarium heater, if desired. Add about eight (1 ½-inch) holes in the top of the storage bin. Once again, size is dependent on what you want or have on hand. Apply weather-seal tape along the outside rim.
Fill the container with nutrient solution just below the sprayers. Secure the lid in place and insert netted pots into each hole. Now you’re ready to add your aeroponic plants to your personal aeroponic growing system.