Hydroponic growing systems rely on nutrient-rich liquids to feed and grow plants in a soilless environment. These systems range in price, with large systems costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. But you don’t need to break the bank to explore hydroponics in your own home. With recycled two-liter bottles, some soilless growing medium and a bottle of hydroponic solution, you can create a small-scale hydroponics unit for growing herbs and salad greens on a sunny windowsill.
Things You'll Need
- Coconut coir
- Cotton wick
- Hydroponic nutrient solution
Wash and dry a two-liter bottle. Remove the cap and any labels on the bottle.
Locate and mark the spot on the two-liter bottle where the top curve levels out and forms a straight side, drawing a line around the bottle with a permanent marker along the curve. This creates your cutting line.
Cut along the line with sharp scissors to remove the top of the bottle.
Place the top, with the cap end down, into the bottle so that it nestles inside the top of the cut section.
Place a 6-inch section of cotton wicking through the cap hole so it extends into the bottom of the bottle. You can use a piece of cotton rope or strip of T-shirt material as the wick.
Hold the end of the wick inside the open cavity created by the top of the bottle with your finger while filling the cavity with coconut coir or a mixture of coconut coir and perlite.
Make a small indentation in the planting media with your fingers, and place the roots of a seedling in the hole. Firm the coconut coir around the roots to secure the seedling in place.
Fill the bottom of the bottle approximately halfway with hydroponics solution. The application rate varies by product. Most require mixing 1 to 3 tablespoons of the concentrated formula with 1 gallon of distilled water.
Nestle the top of the bottle inside the bottom so that the cotton wick extends into the solution. Check the unit frequently, and refill the bottom with hydroponic solution when needed by gently lifting the plant and pouring the solution into the bottom of the bottle.
Tips & Warnings
- As your plants grow, the roots extend through the cap opening and into the hydroponic solution. The wick may be removed at this time, but it is not necessary.
- The outside of the bottle can be covered with decorative paper or foil if you like.
- Do not allow the roots to dry out.