Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Build Your Own 6-8 Plant Hydroponic System for $40.00 or less

For $40 or less (tools not included in the price) and less than an hour's time you can build a six-plant or eight-plant hydroponic unit that could sit on a table or a shelf near a window. If you cant take advantage of natural lighting you can use artificial lights.

All the links to materials and tools are on the Amazon.com website. This was the easiest way to include so many retail product links quickly. This is not meant to be an endorsement of any one product manufacturer or retail sales website.

Tools you will need:

Materials you will need:

As mentioned above, the tools are not included in the $40 price. Without shipping costs, the materials came in at about $39. You could build two units without doubling the price. There is enough plastic tubing for two units. A dual outlet air pump is less than twice the price of the single outlet unit. A 25-pack of net pots is not much more than the 12 pack we listed above.

Listed below are additional materials not included in the $40. They include seeds and seed starting medium. You will likely buy far more than you need in one cycle of growth for one or even two units.

Additional materials:

  • Seeds (the size of these plant sites are perfect for lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, Arugula, etc.)
  • Rockwool growing cubes 1.5 inch size
  • Leca clay grow media (I use the clay balls to fill up the cup around the rockwool cube and stabilize it. I consider them optional. They are also reusable at least several times)
  • Hydroponic fertilizer and a PH test kit

If you buy clear or white storage containers you will want to buy black spray paint for the outside of the container. Because of the constant water and light several hours a day, you will get algae build up on the inside of the container if it is clear or white. One container was black. For the other, I already had black spray paint and a tarp. I quickly painted the outside only.

Construction Steps:

  1. Place net pots on the lid of your container. When you have them spaced and placed the way you want, use your pen to draw a circle around each pot.
  2. Place your drill and hole saw bit over the circle. The hole saw has a regular drill bit in the center that starts a guide hole before the teeth of the hole saw hit the surface you are cutting. Carefully start your guide hole. Then reverse the motor and drill backwards as you push down. The teeth of the hole saw in forward gear will want to rip the plastic and cause quite a kickback. Drilling in the reserve position still only takes a few seconds per hole.
  3. Use your 3/8" drill bit to drill a hole in an upper corner of the side of the container. If you drill above the water line you don't have to seal the hole after inserting the tubing.
  4. Cut your tubing to the needed length. Insert the tube through your hole. Connect your air pump outside the container. Connect the air stone in the container. In containers that only need one air stone I like to center the stone so the whole container gets at least some air movement through the water. Fill the container with water until the water is barely touch the bottom of the net pots once inserted into the holes.

Plants in the containers pictured immediately above are one to two weeks old from seed.