How to Build a Hydroponic System With Rubbermaid Tubs

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Hydroponic gardening is becoming more popular, especially with gardeners who live in areas with short growing seasons. There's nothing better than fresh-picked lettuce and tomatoes all year round. Your hydroponic garden won't have any of the hassles of a backyard garden--no pests, frost warnings or weeds. You will have to pay close attention to your garden, though, since you will control every aspect of the plants' environment. But checking the pH of your nutrient solution is much less back-breaking than pulling weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-gallon Rubbermaid tub with lid
  • Hole saw
  • Aquarium pump
  • Gang valve
  • Three air stones
  • Plastic tubing
  • Six 4-inch net pots
  • HydroClay pebbles
  • Concentrated nutrient solution
  • Six seedlings

Build Your Hydroponics System

  • Place the Rubbermaid tub where you want your garden to be located. It will be difficult to move once it is full of plants and water.

  • Use the hole saw to drill six holes in the lid. They should be slightly smaller than the rim of the net pots.

  • Attach the gang valve to the pump using the plastic tubing. Hang the gang valve on the rim of the Rubbermaid tub or set it outside the tub next to the air pump.

  • Cut three lengths of tubing long enough to reach easily from the gang valve to the bottom of the Rubbermaid tub. Attach an air stone to one end of each length of tubing. Attach the other end of the tubing to the gang valve. Set the air stones inside the Rubbermaid tub, resting on the bottom.

  • Put enough water into the Rubbermaid tub to cover the air stones. Turn on the pump and verify that the pump, valve, and air stones are working properly.

Set Up Your Hydroponic Garden

  • Set a net pot in one of the holes in the lid of the tub, then place the lid on the tub. Mark a line on the side wall of the Rubbermaid tub at the bottom of the net tub. Remove the lid and fill the tub with water to just over the fill line you just made.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to add concentrated nutrient solution to the water in the tub. Mix well.

  • Place the lid securely on the Rubbermaid tub and put net pots in each of the holes. Fill the net pots with HydroClay pebbles and transplant your seedlings into the pots.

  • Turn on the pump to aerate the water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Test the pH and electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution every week to ensure the plants are getting the nutrients they need.
  • Completely replace the nutrient solution every 2 to 3 weeks, or more frequently if your plants start showing signs of stress.
  • Be sure the lid is securely fastened to the Rubbermaid tub, especially if you have small children or pets. The standing tub of water can be a drowning hazard if the lid is not secure.

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