Food Everywhere: Inexpensive Hydrogardens

For three years, while I was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, I worked in a store that sold hydroponic equipment and homebrew and wine making supplies.  The homebrew and wine making end of things was my domain, of course, but I managed to pick up quite a bit on the hydro side…more than enough to supplement my love of gardening and tinkering.

I have always been interested in hydroponic gardening as a unique tool, but one that encumbered by a damning limitation, cost–particularly the cost of lighting.  Indeed, the oversized high pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) bulbs, at $50-$150 a pop, were some of the most frequently lifted items in the store.  Once you add the cost of a ballast to fire those bulbs, a hood to direct their saturated light, and ventilation to deal with the heat they generate, you are well out of my budget for a home garden.

Still, I’m not one to squander an opportunity to build something.  So I decided to create two systems that use natural light and see what I could get them to grow.

The Backyard Hydrogarden

This is PVC pipe based hydrogarden I built in my back yard.

 

The Office Window Hydrogarden

This is PVC pipe based hydrogarden I built in my office window.