DIY Hydrophonic Herb Garden: Lessons Learned

Summer is approaching fast. It means that it's time to do a short retrospective of my last summer DIY hydrophonic garden project. The hydrophonic system I built last year was a huge success. However, there were also a couple of small issues with it. I'm going to use the same idea this year and make it even better.

So how did the system work? The herbs, especially basil and arugula (rucola, rocked salad) grew up really well. The growth was so fast that we had to cut the herbs down constantly and give a lot of excess herbs away for friends and family. Parsley didn't grow well and we are going to replace it with some other herb this year.

We put the herbs outdoors a bit too early last spring. The first basil died because of cold weather and it was replaced later with a new one. Additionally, here's a list of other small issues which I noticed during the summer:

  • Holes in the drip pipes were too small, they choked in the end of the summer because some algae in the water
    • Fix: figure out a better drip system
  • The nutrient wasn't good enough for hydrophonic gardening and I believe that some algae formed partly because of this
    • Fix: buy better nutrients
  • The roots grew about 1 meter tall and blocked the overflow hole at the end of the summer
    • Fix: make the bottom hole bigger and remove the drip pipe
  • Water fill interval was more frequent than I anticipated (required water amount was about 20 litres per week) and it was a bit tricky to do the fill without seeing how full the water container was
    • Fix: add a fill pipe and maybe some water level sensor
  • Clay pellets were maybe a bit too small
    • Fix: use some other fill material

Those should be pretty easy to fix. We had also some other plants in the balcony: tomatoes, cucumbers, chili, a lemon tree, peas, salad and potatoes (and other plants which I don't remember anymore):

Bonus picture of the cucumbers: