As far as hydroponic systems go, the Dutch pot hydroponic system is one of the best. While it is also known as the "poor man's hydroponics," the Dutch pot is anything but poor. It's inexpensive to make, incredibly efficient in its job, and also lightweight. The following steps will show you how to build a Dutch pot hydroponic system with easy-to-find tools and materials.
Tip: Don't forget about air flow when you're growing hydroponically. An oscillating fan in your greenhouse or growing area will keep the air moving, strengthening your plant stems.
Step 1 - Select and Measure Your Space
Take measurements of where the system will be built. For our purposes, we will be using a 5x8-foot area which will fit four rows of four 10x12x9-inch BATO buckets for a total of 16 buckets.
Tip: A BATO bucket has a siphon pipe at the bottom which allows a nutrient solution in the base of the pot to keep the growing medium moist.
Step 2 - Build Your Drainage System
The drain system is important to any hydroponic system because stale water can kill your vegetation. First, line the BATO buckets in rows with four buckets per row. Cut your PVC pipe to the length and width of your hydroponics system, adding several inches on the end. Then, cut the PVC pipe to fit the length and width of the inner bucket system.
Next, remove the BATO buckets and put them off to the side. Drill a one-inch hole in the bottom of each bucket near the back.
Put two PVC pipe elbows together to form a "U" shape for each bucket in your system. Drill a one-inch hole in the PVC pipes that will be under the buckets. Make sure they line up with the drains. Connect all of the pipes using T-fittings and PVC elbows, applying PVC primer and PVC cement to seal them at the joints.
Return the buckets to their places and place the elbow assemblies in the drain holes and in the holes in the PVC pipes.
Step 3 - Build the Feed System
Now that the drainage system has been built, construct the mechanism for feeding your plants.
Place the pump in the reservoir, and attach a one-foot riser to the output of the pump. Then, put a T-fitting to the rider to split the output. One side needs to extend back to the reservoir and the other to the feed-line, and both output lines need to be equipped with shut-off valves.
Place two feed-lines between two rows of buckets and connect them with a T-fitting and an elbow. Each feed line having an end cap needs to be connected. Next, use the hole punch to make holes in the feed line for each dripper; note that there should be two drippers per bucket. Install 1/4-inch connectors, and connect the drip line.
Step 4 - Start Growing
Now that you have all the parts of this system together, you can begin growing hydroponic fruits and vegetables. Prep for your plants first by filling the buckets halfway with perlite. Then, plant your seeds, and finish filling the buckets up to the 1/2-inch ledge with more perlite. Fill the buckets with water, turn on the pump, and let your system do its job.
Tip: Coco fiber is also a very popular growing medium for hydroponics systems.