DIY Hydroponic Starter-Kit

One of the most effective Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hydroponic starter-kit systems you can build at home with minimum tools and DIY skill is the Deep-Water Culture system. To build this system, you need the below-listed item. 

Materials 

  • A Plastic container. It can be of any shape with a stable base. Start with a decent size around a square foot. A circular or rectangular container does not really matter for this project. Do you have a pail or some extra storage container lying around, you probably can reuse/recycle it for this project.
  • DWC need to be able to inject bubble into the reservoir (container). To achieve this, we need to have an air pump with an air stone. You can head to your nearest aquarium shop and get one. You don't need a powerful pump, something around the range of 6 to 10 watts is sufficient. Remember to grab a few feet (depending on the height of your container) of air tube while you are there. Air tube is needed to hook up the air pump to the air stone.  
  • While you are in the aquarium shop, do check with them if they have any spare net pot used to hold the aquatic plant for sale. If you are lucky, they might give them to you free. Chances are you might need to pay for it. Alternatively, you can head online and get them for a couple of cents each. A typical size net pot will be around 2" in diameter. You can even DIY net pot from your used yogurt container.
  • Before you leave that aquarium shop, put one bag of sponge used as the filter into your shopping cart. We'll need it as the medium to hold the plant within the net pot. 

Tools 

  1. Scissors & Pen Knife – All DIY project must have tool. 
  2. Hand drill + Hole Saw – We'll need this to drill the circular hole on the container cover to insert the net pot. You can get the drill and hole saw at your favorite DIY shop. Some shop might not have the hole saw but with a little search, you should be able to locate it. If you really cannot get one and not willing to place an order online, you can do the same using scissor or pen knife if your container cover is not too thick, but I will always suggest using a hole saw. It just make life easier.  

Step by step instructions 

  1. Wash all material 
  2. Measure the diameter of the net pot you have. Choose a circular bit that is slightly smaller than the measured diameter. The reason is simple, if the drilled hole is the same as the net pot's diameter, the net pot will fall through and not insert to the cover. 
  3. Determine how many net pots can your container have. Rule of thumb, there should be a spacing of 2 – 3 inches between net pot. 
  4. Start marking out the position of the net pot on the cover. The marking should be the center of the net pot where the drill will be positioned. 
  5. After all the net pot holes are drilled, remove the circular drill and drill a small hole at of the corner on the cover. This hole will be for the air tube. 
  6. You might need to use a pen knife to smoothed the edges if there are any rough cuts. 

Start Planting

  • Insert the net pot into the hole and take note or mark on the container the water height that needs to be filled to touch the net pot. This is important especially when the seedlings transfer from the germination tray are not long enough to reach the water reservoir. 
  • Fill up the reservoir with your favorite nutrient water till it reaches the water level marked. 
  • Transfer the seedlings from your germination tray to the net pot. 
  • Finally, place the system in an area with lighting suitable for the plant you are growing. If need, you will want to invest in an artificial lighting. 
  • Plug in the air pump and turn on. Ensure that air bubbles are created in the reservoir.  You can use a timer to set the air pump to turn on 6 hrs interval although this is optional. Many people just leave it on 24hrs. My personal preference is to turn on 6hrs interval for 2 reasons. Firstly, an air pump is typically noisy (unless you bought an expensive pump). Secondly, save some electricity. By turning it on 6 hrs interval, that is 50% reduction in electricity consumption.  
  • As days pass, the seedling will grow and start consuming the nutrient water, top up the water as and when needed and enjoy watching your plant grow! 

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