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Hydroponics Build 1

I am starting a Hydroponic system this year. It will consist mainly of strawberries but will also have room for some herbs.

The Build

There are many reasons to grow with a hydroponic setup. Water saving, keeping animals from eating your food, growing specialty foods are the top reasons.

What got me interested was watching a Walt Disney video years ago where the latest science was to grow food without any soil in test tubes. Many years later this still seems like a science experiment but now it has become more accepted with even a few large commercial growers.

My wife and I were in Switzerland for a vacation last year and loved it. One thing we both could not get enough of was the strawberries. They had a taste that was nothing that is grown in California. It has a taste you can't quite describe. It wasn't so much sweeter but more of a PEZ candy flavor, Just different.

After looking around different garden forums I found that the strawberry was the Mara Des Bois variety. I ordered seeds for them and Pineberry White Strawberries right away.

Now as the growing season is getting closer I decided I was going to definitely build a NFT hydroponic system to grow those hard to grow berries. While designing just how I wanted to build mine compared to what I have seen online I noticed that the same seeds I bought were available to buy bare root. I ordered 25 of each and started building my system.

This system will be 10' wide, 4' deep and 5' tall. It will be made with a wood structure that will hold 10' long 4" wide PVC drainage pipe. The pipe will zig zag down the structure dropping 6" every 10' with a 16" forward gap between levels. This should give each pipe enough angle for drainage and not have any problem with one row blocking the sunlight from another. Every pipe will have 11 - 3" pots to hold the plants in place with enough room for root growth. This will provide 66 growing stations. With 50 bare root strawberries it leaves 16 for other plants.

The structure took a few days to build. It is a lot of 2x6x8 and 2x4x8 Douglas fir. I used a 4 1/2" hole saw to make the cradles for the pipes. I did have to use a jig saw to widen the ends of the 2x6 to make them fit. The 2x4 were OK.

I used a ton of 3" deck screws pre-drilled to put it all together.

Hydroponics structure

Setup in the garage

Hydroponics Outside

Bare Root Strawberry Plant after 1 week

These are from 3" pre grown in soil pots that I split in half and planted last week. It seems to be doing great so far. It went from 2 to 6 strawberries.




So far this has proved to be an amazing way to grow herbs and berries. The main benefits:

Water is recycled so you use way less of it compared to watering in ground plants.
Bugs, birds and squirrels seem to stay away from it.
Most plants grow way faster than in the ground.

Parts List for structure

5 - 2x6x8" Green Douglas Fir
6 - 2x4x8" Green Douglas Fir
7 - 10' x 4" PVC drainage pipe
10 - 4" PVC 90* elbows
1 - 4" cleanout with cap for intake
1 - 4" cap for exit with 1" PVC threaded male/female coupler for exit.
bulk 100 pack of 3" deck screws
25' - 1/2" pipe strap
1 gallon white outdoor paint
70 - 3" plastic net cups
250 GPH low wattage pump
20' 1/2" flexible tube
55 gallon drum for reservoir
50' - 16 gauge extension cord

Tools used for the structure

18V 1/2" Drive Drill
18V circular Saw
18V Jig Saw
120V Plunge Router


3" hole saw
4 1/2" hole saw
1/8" bit

Misc Things

Black Sharpie