Hydroponics is a specialized type of gardening that grows plants in soil-free nutrient solutions. An economical, environmentally friendly, and sustainable way to produce food, hydroponic gardens are grown in a controlled environment, so only basic agriculture skills are required.
Anyone can create a low-cost hydroponic garden at home using basic Styrofoam boxes.
Tools and Materials
- Black plastic heavy-duty receptacle liner bag
- Styrofoam ice chest with deep lid cover
- 6 Styrofoam cups
- 6 gallons distilled water
- Marking pen
- Craft knife
- Sphagnum moss
- Lettuce seedlings or enough lettuce seeds for six plants
- Plant nutrient mix
Hydroponic Garden How-To
- Line Styrofoam ice chest with black liner bag. Fill with distilled water.
- Using the top of Styrofoam cups as a template, trace 6 evenly spaced circles on the Styrofoam chest’s deep lid cover. With a craft knife, cut out circles 1/4 inch smaller than Styrofoam cup lid circles.
- Using craft knife, cut small hole in the bottom of Styrofoam cups. Place Sphagnum moss in cups and top with perlite, filling to just under rim of cup.
- Insert lettuce seedling into perlite, and fill in perlite around seedling.
- Place lid upside-down on chest. Place cups in holes of lid.
- Water seedlings each day with nutrient mix, making sure that the water level in the container is not too high: There should be about an inch of room between the water line and the bottom of the Styrofoam cups.
After a week to 10 days, roots from the seedlings should begin entering the container.
As the plants grow, pick leaves as desired, always being careful not to over-harvest.