In an effort to build a pump-free system, we put together a wicking system that can fit in a window. Yay no electricity! (At least until I add lights). We’re new to hydroponic gardening (pretty new to growing anything anywhere actually), so we’re making it up as we go, but this is what we’ve got…
Basically it is a couple of PVC pipes sealed at the ends, with a bunch of holes in them for the plants. You can kind of see on the top one that we cut a hole in the end and put in clear plastic so we can see the water level. There is a drain in each pipe which you can see is attached to piping making it easier to drain when its time to switch out the water. It will also make it easier to convert to some kind of flow system if this bombs. There is about an inch of standing water in the pipes. So far, only the top pipe has nutrients as those are already sprouted.
The materials cost about $70 without doing any shopping around (not including the stuff from the hydroponics store…nutrients and the grow medium). I’m pretty sure that’s cheaper than most everything else I’ve seen on here. Right now it will hold 17 plants. The top has 11 spots for things like herbs and greens and the bottom holds 6 for things that need more room, like peas. Adding up to 22 more should be easy…just waiting to see if it will work before I spring for the investment! We made sure to space them so that the holes line up with the one above, so if we need to go with a drip system later it will be an easy fix.
The seeds are sitting in yogurt cups with this stuff we got at the hydroponic store. No idea what it is. The guy who worked there said it would work and shouldn’t decompose and throw off my water. We found these silly Trix yogurts are actually a really great size and don’t have a glued on label, so I’m eating neon colored yogurt now. I put nylon rope into the material, cut a hole in the bottom of the cup, and the rope hangs into the water. The wicking works beautifully. The top of the spongy material stuff is always damp. Two weeks in and there’s some growth.
Arugula is shown. It took off after about a week even in my chilly sunroom (it rarely tops 60 degrees, low to mid 50′s are more normal.) I’m also seeing signs of life in the sugar snap peas I put in about 8 days ago, but pretty much just huge roots. They haven’t popped above the surface yet. Other things seem like they will need to wait for warmer weather (i.e. the basil, and the tomato).
SO, my question to you experienced folks is this: what to do about lights?? I want to stay very inexpensive because I don’t even know if this wicking business is going to work. Despite my south facing window, I know I need something because it IS January, and I DO live in Minnesota (our days are sunny and getting longer every day, but its still only about 9 hours of daylight). My boyfriend thinks we can do a string of LED Christmas lights and tuck them into a smaller PVC pipe cut in half and lined with foil. Thoughts? Ideas?
Did I miss something else that is going to make me fall on my face here?