Last year I followed this Instructables tutorial to build a hydroponic garden and it turned out really nice. I used it to grow lettuce, basil, and tomatoes. After a couple months, the lettuce started bolting and flowering and the tomatoes outgrew the setup. In the end, I used the setup to grow three basil plants for about six months. It took up a whole lot of space, required a large amount of water and nutrients in the reservoir, and got dirty very quick. My girlfriend and I were moving so I started to pack it all up. I began to clean it so we could set it back up at a later time, but it was so slimy, moldy, and gross I decided to salvage the valuable parts (pump, lights, and drip irrigation pieces) and trash the rest. We missed the fresh basil (hence the name "The Basil Box") so I decided to draw up a design for a setup that would take up less space and could be cleaned/maintained easier. The objectives I took into consideration for this design were:
- Reasonably Priced
- Easy to Maintain (adding nutrients and adjusting lights)
- Easy to Clean
- Easy to Break Down and Pack Away
- Small Form Factor (Final dimensions were about 1.25 ft x 1.25 ft x 2.5 ft)
Keeping this project cheap was the main objective I wanted to stick to. Luckily I had most of the hydroponic supplies on hand, so the total project cost for me was under $50. Those just starting off with hydroponics will need to buy a few key materials such as expanded clay, pH control chemicals, an air pump with air stones, and nutrients in order to get their system up and running. I've included the preliminary sketches I drew up (Some dimensions on the drawings have changed) and the BOM.
Products used within this project: