Gardening is not a onetime “thing”. It’s a continuous growing process that will give you guaranteed yields every year. The best part is it does not matter if you are an expert or a newborn taking the first step, Mother Earth is always ready to welcome you with both hands that cover you with protective and warm herbage.
Over the years, though, outdoor gardening has taken a step back thanks to inclusion of toxic pesticides that are constantly proving themselves as a biggest danger to human lives.
This has provoked many gardeners to put their foot down and start up with their own gardening process – be it indoor or outdoor. As you already know, the trending gardening tool is none other than the aquaponics or hydroponics system that seem to be soaring high in the gardening arena.
However, the downside is the price that can be challenging to those who are “sandwiched” between health and economy. Do not scratch your head. Here is a DIY guide that will help you to create your own vertical tower or vertical aquaponics garden right at your home at a cheap budget.
How does vertical growing tower work?
A DIY vertical growing tower is quite an interesting project that you can cover over a weekend. Though setting up the fish part is a process that may take a while, you can always go with hydroponic grow tubes that are quite affordable and work efficiently in taking care of your plants as they grow.
The bottomline of using vertical aquaponics is to eliminate the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers as far as possible while using only water as the source for deriving yields every cycle.
The system design is quite easy not to mention add a pronouncing decor to your outdoors.
What can you grow with DIY vertical growing tower?
Basically, you can grow just about anything in your vertical garden. For instance, leafy greens or herbs make a great start. Even beans, tomatoes are supportive while growing in aquaponics or hydroponics system. The best part is the system is sustainable and use less amount of water than traditional gardening methods. Fishes such as Tilapia, Koi etc. can also be added at a later stage for beauty purposes and thrive as per changing climates of aquaponics system.
Building the Vertical Growing Tower
For making the vertical garden, you need a set of tools that are listed below.
- Measuring tape
- Marker or pencil
- Support system such as cedar to hold the tubes
- Circulating aquaponics tank or a hydroponics reservoir (pump, tubes, tank etc.)
- 3” diameter or PVC pipes (costs about $15 for a ten foot length)
- End caps
- Hack saw
- Small torch (butane) or a heat gun
- Wooden dowel
- Bucket, cold water, cloth etc.
- ½” diameter pvc conduit pipe in 3 ½ inch lengths, two per tube
- Adjustable wrench
- Drill, 1/2 “ bit, 7/8” bit
- 2 adjustable clamps
- Saw horses or work bench
- Safety goggles, gloves
- Silicone sealant or adhesive
- Biofilter grow media (grow rocks such as gravel, lava rocks, rock wool etc.)
Cut the pipe based on the desired length of your grow tube. Five foot lengths are good and quite easy to handle as well. You can use a hack saw or a grinder wheel. Now determine where to mount the tubes to the vertical support system. Mark it so that you can bolt through later on. Also mark how many planting sites you want in a tube. 360 degrees look great, definitely worth the effort and is the best way to make use of the space.
Use clamps to pipe down every end to the working surface. Slice the tube wall at the marked area to create the planting site. Note that the length of the cut must be the final width of the planting hole that you want when finished. Keep in mind that you need to drill holes as well to create bolt guides to hold the tubes when they are connected to the support system. Double check before proceeding to the next level.
Now listen to this carefully as this is a crucial step. Keep a bucket of cold water and a cloth ready. The dowel that is used to create the planting hold must be handy as well. Work quickly as there is not much time to think here. Using a small torch heat the area where you have made the cut using hack saw. DO NOT use a strong flame or keep it on one spot for more than a second as you will scorch away the pipe. Keep it moving and heat a little beyond the edge of the cuts. Once the plastic is soft slide the dowel and evenly open the planting site (with the rim outside the tube). Place the wet cloth immediately with the dowel in. Hold it firmly and evenly for a while with the cold cloth and let it set.
Once you are done with the planting sites it’s time to drill out the pipes that will be attached to the vertical support system. Many people use robber grommets but they are a bit over the budget so it’s better to use adhesives to seal them up. Do not use metals with galvanized coating as they corrode and release harmful chemicals which are detrimental for your aquaponics system.
For your end caps, drill out ½“ or smaller diameter holes. The more the better and use 2-3 stainless steel screws to secure the cap to the bottom end of vertical growing tube.
Choose the growing media of your choice and fill them in the tubes. You need to run the aquaponics system for a month or so to make sure it works well in growing good plants. With hydroponic system, it is always considered wise to use a sterile grow medium to plant it right away and begin the germination process.
It’s time to fix the tubes to the support system. By using the attachment locations that you had marked and drilled, run carriage bolts through the couplers. Make sure the head of the bolt is through the wood or metal framing part. Use a washer before the nut on the opposite side of the growing tube you designed. Tight it using wrench but don’t overdo and crush the coupler.
Install a watering system to deliver water from aquaponics tank to respective growing tubes. Make sure there are no leaks that will dry away the system and wreck havoc. This is something you should carefully scrutinize especially in a DIY aquaponics system. The system is now ready to grow and with nutrient rich solution, your own vertical growing tower will deliver bigger and healthier yields all year.