If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve doubtlessly seen our articles on creating a PVC hydroponics system for home use. Few things bring greater satisfaction in life than growing food for personal use. Growing vegetables in a PVC pipe is an economical way to start not only your hydroponics garden but also increase it in size as time goes by, and you become more comfortable with gardening in this manner.
While you’re interested in a DIY PVC hydroponic garden, you’re still wondering whether this method is for you. After all, what if you’re not that handy? Do you need a lot of different tools in addition to the PVC pipe to create the setup? Building your system requires some basic skills. What’s more, if you do mess up cutting holes in the pipe, pieces are inexpensive, and you’ll still end up spending much less than you would if you bought a pre-made system.
Growing vegetables in a PVC pipe is easier than you think too. In fact, this hydroponics system is one of the easiest to set up and can accommodate virtually any type of crop that you want to grow. As long as you have enough light, water, and nutrients, you’ll be on your way to tasty vegetables grown year-round.
What Do You Mean I’ll be Growing Vegetables in a PVC Pipe?
When you think about it, pipes are the perfect conduit for growing vegetables. Whether you use an open system, where the water an nutrient solution is discarded after passing through the pipes or a closed one, a PVC hydroponic garden simply makes sense. Large four-inch PVC can be used to create your hydroponics system, but you can also set up a system using a smaller two-inch pipe, depending on the type of vegetables you intend to grow.
Using PVC pipe makes sense because these pipes are meant to carry water, so why wouldn’t you use them to carry not only water but also required nutrients to your plants. It simply makes sense. If you’re worried about plant roots breaking the pipe or getting stuck, don’t be. Easy Hydroponics notes that if you grow long root plants, though, you can mitigate that problem by using landscape fabric that is permeable but solid enough to stop the roots from invading the pipes.
PVC pipes are inexpensive, easy to find, and are great for a variety of projects, including DIY hydroponic gardening. You can set up a system outdoors or indoors. If you set up your system inside, you have the added advantage of growing food throughout the entire year. That also means you can try a variety of crops according to your wishes.
Set It and Forget It
Well, you don’t want to forget the maintenance of your PVC hydroponic garden exactly, but once you have things set up, you won’t have to do much. Yes, it’s that easy to grow your crops, even if you’re a beginner. A PVC system is suitable for a wide variety of vegetables and fruit such as strawberries and blueberries.
Start with leafy greens if you’re a hydroponics newbie. You can always expand to personal favorites once you get the hang of it. Rural Living Today recommends that you try some of these crops:
- Greens like lettuce, arugula, and spinach
- Herbs like chives, basil, mint, cilantro, and oregano
- Zucchini and yellow squash
- All types of cabbage
- Broccoli and cauliflower
Add tomatoes and all types of peppers to that list. Many beginners have great success with those crops. Think of it, you can make homemade salsa!
I Told You This is Simple
Obviously, you need a few more materials in addition to the pipes to create your DIY PVC hydroponic garden. Most experts recommend a four-inch PVC pipe. Depending on your exact instruction, you may also want to buy 3/4-inch diameter PVC pipes and endcaps instead of buying four-inch elbows and endcaps. Nevertheless, the rest of the materials you need are pretty straightforward.
Some kind of drill to create the holes for the plants, as well as tools such as a hacksaw or hole, saw to cut the plastic are essential. Farm Hydroponics recommends that you also assemble the following tools and materials:
- Chalk line
- Tape measure
- Pruning shears
- Soldering iron
- PVC pipe glue and PVC primer
- Duct tape
- Hydroponic submersible pump and pump hose
- six-inch air stones
- 16-ounce plastic cups
- Expanded clay pellets
- 30-gallon plastic storage tote with lid
- Two sawhorses or similar structure on which to place the system
Let’s Build This PVC Pipe Garden
When browsing through the internet, you’ll find different recommendations on how long you should make your PVC hydroponics garden system. While pipe generally comes in 10-foot lengths, Farm Hydroponics suggests that you cut the pipe into seven-foot sections and then cut three additional six-inch pieces that you can use to make u-turns for PVC elbows. Most experts recommend that you use four-inch PVC pipes to accommodate plants of all sizes. However, Science in Hydroponics indicates you can also use a two-inch PVC pipe for a smaller system. Use PVC primer to clean burrs from cut pieces before gluing these pieces together.
When assembling the system, apply glue to the fittings and ends of the pipes and hold them together, twisting them in a bit to eliminate air bubbles. Farm Hydroponics recommends that you glue together the entire system before drilling holes, but some will recommend that you drill holes before assembling. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what is right for you.
Mark the plant holes on the top center of the PVC pipe and drill them after the glue has dried for 24 hours. If the holes are not at the top center, you risk leaving water and nutrients down the sides. The first hole should be 3-1/2 inches from the elbow, with subsequent holes placed accordingly. This spacing is ideal for growing tomato plants.
After creating the holes, use a thin piece of metal to remove the PVC burrs to ensure that your system doesn’t become clogged with pieces of plastic after set up. Sections between the long pipes and the wedges between should be duct-taped in place together, but take care to ensure that tape does not cover the holes. Flush out the PVC pipes several times before setting them into place on the sawhorses or whatever supports you choose. Attach the tubing to the hydroponic pump, the PVC pumps, and the reservoir.
Place plastic cups in each of the holes, making sure that the bottom of each cup has holes drilled or an X cut in the bottom to allow roots to access water and the nutrient solution that runs through the piping. Once you have accomplished this, fill the cups with growing medium and then plant your seeds.
One of the most common questions regarding DIY PVC hydroponic garden creation involves how to drill holes in the pipe properly. This video from Thunder Ridge Media shows you the tools you need and the technique to create sufficient holes in 10-foot PVC piping.
It’s Time to Start Growing Vegetables in a PVC Pipe
If you have hesitated to start a hydroponics garden because you were worried about the upfront costs, creating a PVC garden will significantly cut the costs. Many people have an extra piece of unused PVC pipe in their home. Take one of those and experiment on cutting the holes needed to see how well you’ll do. You’ll see it’s much easier than you think.
The beauty of growing vegetables in the PVC pipe is that you can tailor the system to meet your space needs. New hydroponic gardeners can start with a small system that accommodates 20 to 40 plants and go up from there. These systems can accommodate various types of media, from nutrient film technique to river rock media and everything in between.
You can experiment with different sizes too. Use larger pipe for plants such as tomatoes and squash that need a lot of room to gro. Herbs and other smaller crops can grow in the smaller pipe if you wish. Start with no-fail crops such as green and go on from there. As you add systems, you can customize your nutrient mix to optimize yields. How great is that?
Finally, If you don’t have a lot of horizontal space, PVC gardens are ideal for tower gardens. Place them inside, and you’ll have fresh food no matter what time of year it is. It doesn’t get any better than that, so get growing!