Aeroponics requires a spray rather than a flow of water.

Homemade Aeroponic Gardens

by Cindy Quarters

Growing your own food lets you take control of what your family eats. Aeroponics lets you take control a step further and replaces soil with a combination of pure water and essential nutrients. You’re not limited to growing food -- your garden can also give you flowers every day of the year. All aeroponic gardens have a reservoir, so use them where kids can’t reach them.

1. Basics

Aeroponics is a type of hydroponics in that it’s a way of gardening without soil, but in an aeroponic system the nutrients are misted onto the plants’ roots instead of being delivered through a pond or in flowing water. No supporting media is used in aeroponics -- the plants are suspended in the system and the roots are fully exposed. A timer turns on a pump for a brief period every few minutes, 24 hours a day. As long as the system has power, everything works well. If the pump stops working, the plants will quickly die.

2. Bins

A plastic storage bin forms the basis for a homemade aeroponic system. The bin must be large enough to hold plenty of water, a submersible pump and an aeroponic manifold made of PVC pipe with multiple nozzles. You then set the plants into holes drilled in the lid of the bin, typically supported with a piece of rock wool, cotton or similar substance. After the pump sprays the roots, any excess drops straight down into the bin to be reused. Aeroponic nozzles clog easily and must be checked frequently for problems.

3. Bucket Systems

Bucket aeroponic systems make use of a single large bucket, usually a 5-gallon food-grade bucket. The roots are sprayed with mist from a single, centrally located pump or misted by water droplets flung from an impeller mounted in the bucket’s lid. Another simple and inexpensive variation uses a coil of garden hose with a series of holes poked along one side, eliminating the issue of clogged nozzles. The hose spirals from top to bottom of the bucket and sprays a fine mist every time the pump is on.

4. Frame Systems

One easy-to-build method uses a polyurethane foam sheet to make a long triangular-shaped support for the plants. The frame can be as long or as short as you wish, depending on mow many plants you want to grow. A series of misting nozzles runs from one end to the other, attached to a piece of PVC pipe and fed by a submersible pump set into a nearby reservoir. The excess drips onto slightly slanted tray and back into the reservoir to be recycled.

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