DIY vertical hydroponic system

grow vegetables in small spaces

Posted by Christian Haschek on 2017-04-23
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I wanted to do this project for years but only recently decided to give it a try. Over the last few months my girlfriend and I were building it and the results are awesome.

Finished hydro system

What you'll need

1. Pipes

There is an ongoing war about PVC vs other pipes. The most important factor is that the pipes need to be food safe. Many PVC pipes are not, but even those who are might leak toxic material over the years (especially if exposed to the sun). To be safe we decided to use high temperature polypropylene (PP) Pipes which can be used in temperatures up to 90°C (194°F) and still won't leak any toxics. They're still pretty cheap.

4x HT pipe 1m Link

6x 90 degrees angle

1x end piece

Cost: 23.19€

2. A frame

We made a simple frame out of 3x 2m wood slats.

We used the 24x44x2000mm ones

Cost: 5,94€

3. Destilled or rain water

Since we can't collect the rain water, we bought 3x 5l distilled water from our local hardware shop. Distilled water is better for hydroponic systems than tap water because the minerals from the tap water can clog the small roots and ultimately kill the plants.

Distilled water from the hardware store

Cost: 4.77€

4. Water pump

You can use an aquarium pump but you have to make sure the pump can push the water high enough.

I use an submerged aquarium pump which can pump 1.2m high, which is enough for the height of this project.

Aquarium submerged pump

Cost: 15€

5. Net cups

30x net cups, 5.5x5.5 cm

Cost: 6€

Total cost: 54,90€


Let's build it

Step 1: cut holes in the pipes

These will hold the net cups. We cut 5cm (radius: 2.5cm) holes with 10cm space between them.

This means you have room for 6 plants per pipe.

Pipes without holes

Fitting the cups

Assembled pipes with freshly cut holes. Looking good

It doesn't matter that the cups don't reach the bottom of the pipe since the plants will already have longer roots when they get in the tubes. If you don't plan to pre-treat them, you can build small dams, use bigger cups, smaller pipes or use small ropes as you'll see later.

Step 2: Build a frame to support it

We fiddle'd the wood through the piping system like this

Fitting the wood

25cm long perforated tape bent to this form holds the pipes in place

From the forementioned wood slats we cut two 50cm pieces off. These will be the "feet" and the rest of the slats will be mounted on them.

The frame will need to have legs so it doesn't tip over

Legs are held in place by two 90° stainless steel angles, secured by 4 wood screws per angle

Works great. In the end it will be also tied down to the sides

We painted it with white, weatherproof coating

Finished painting

We let the paint dry for two days before we put plants in.

Step 3: Put plants in it and wait

First plants: 1 week old salad

Salad is starting to grow

Since the roots of the young plants didn't reach the water yet, we had to add some coconut rope we picked up for 3€ for 10m

Final step: Harvest when ready

This is a 1 month old chinese salad. Look at the thick roots!

This project was a full success and didn't need any maintenance after construction. I didn't think it was this easy to grow your own food.

Bonus pics:

"Maria Lankowitz" Salad

Awesome roots

Great size

Ready to serve


Tags: diy | hydroponic
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