Hydroponics - first attempt

15-09-2015

I've been interested in growing basil for a while. My partner has had difficulty with it in the past. I'd seen some pretty impressive results with hydroponics, so we thought we'd give it a try.

hydroponics

Sadly, we don't have an outdoor socket at our place, so we decided to go with a solar panel. Given we built this just before summer, this seemed like a good idea. The plan was to go with a solar pump designed to be used as a decorative fountain for a pond. With that in place, some 10mm plastic hose finishes the pump section. Our yard gets enough sunlight to power the pump.

The method we are using is a flood-and-drain system. The setup includes two plastic boxes, bought from a hardware shop. The top box has a laser cut plastic frame to hold 6 hydroponic plant pots with permable clay beads in each. This box has a hole for the water pipe coming in, a hole for the overflow pipe going out and smaller drain holes in the bottom of the box.

The lower box forms the main reservoir. It contains the pump, with holes for the water-out pipe, the overflow pipe and the drain holes from the box above. As a final touch, we add a touch of worm-juice (or as I like to call it, the black digested ichor of the wormy offspring of Cthulu) to the water, in order to provide some level of nutrients.

happy basil

When the sun shines, the top box floods pretty well and then drains down over time. The results speak for themselves; the basil is very happy indeed! Not a bad result. Of course, the UK isn't great for sunshine and Autumn has started. Nevertheless, I'm fairly pleased with the closed system we seem to have made (well, closed-ish). There are improvements to make: the lower section is now a bit too pond like, and the lower half of the top box should be opaque as roots are not the friends of sunshine. I suspect this will be a plan for next year. For now though, tasty pizza awaits!