Building a basic hydroponics system requires a 5-gallon plastic bucket, a flower pot that flares at the top to fit the bucket, growth medium, an aquarium pump and plastic tubing. Nutrient solution fills the pot to provide water and nutrients for the plants.
Drilling a hole at the bottom side of the bucket and installing a plastic tube as a sight gauge provides an easy way to monitor the water level. A 1/2-inch barbed plastic elbow and 1/2-inch interior diameter rubber grommet provide a watertight seal.
Preparation of the flower pot requires carefully drilling a number of 1/4-inch holes in the bottom and sides of it to provide openings for the plant to spread its roots into the nutrient solution. It also requires cutting a V-notch in the rim to accommodate the aquarium pump hose.
The gardener should maintain the level of the nutrient solution just below the level of the bottom of the flower pot. Initially, he needs to provide the nutrient solution to the plant until the roots grow through the openings to the container below. With established plants, he should add water to maintain the nutrient level as it drops due to evaporation. While this basic setup depends on sunlight for the plants, if he moves the hydroponic garden inside, he must add grow lights for healthy plants.