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Super Easy Ice-cream Tub Hydroponics

Home > Everywhere > How To | Gardening | Fun Things To Do | Frugal Friday
by fyrefly trayle (subscribe)
Enjoying life in the West
Published March 18th 2020
Grow your own vegetables
Lettuce (conventionally grown)

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution rather than in soil. Reported benefits of hydroponics include the reduced need for water and the increased rate of growth. If you have access to a sunny, or partially sunny spot, you can make your own simple and cheap hydroponics system using the Kratky method.

You will need:

1. a clean ice-cream container;
2. a pair of good scissors or a boxcutter;
3. hydroponics nutrient solution; and
4. a seedling (lettuce).

A punnet of 8 lettuce seedlings cost me approximately AUD$3.00 and a 500mL bottle of hydroponics fertiliser cost me approximately AUD$15.00 as at March 2020. 1mL of hydroponics fertiliser was diluted to make up 2L which is more than sufficient nutrient solution for one ice-cream tub (preparation of nutrient solutions vary depending on the brand and type of hydroponics fertiliser).

Step 1: The Lid

Cut a slit approximately 30mm long into the center of the lid. Cut a second slit of the same length perpendicular to the first to form a cross. Gently bend the corners downwards and cut away any sharp or jagged edges which might damage the seedling.

Ice-cream, container, tub, hydroponics, lid
Cut a 'cross' in the centre of the lid and bend the corners inwards.

Step 2: The Seedling

Remove the seedling from the punnet, taking care not to damage the roots, and carefully wash the soil off the roots in a container of clean water. Thread the roots through the hole in the ice-cream lid and set aside.

Gently thread the seedling's roots through the hole in the lid.

Step 3: Hydroponics Nutrient Solution

Mix the hydroponics solution according to the manufacturer's directions and partially fill the ice-cream container. Do not fill the container to the brim as an air gap is required between the top of the solution and the bottom of the lid. This ensures that the roots will have access to oxygen.

Tub, container, hydroponic, hydroponics
Partially fill the tub with liquid fertiliser.

Step 4: Putting it together

Carefully secure the ice-cream lid to the container, allowing the roots to dip into the nutrient solution.

Hydroponics, ice-cream, tub, container, hydroponic
Fit the lid, with the seedling, onto the container.

Step 5: Sunny Spot

If the weather is hot, place the tub in a cool spot with filtered light/partial shade to prevent the nutrient solution from getting hot. In winter, place the seedling in a sunny spot.

Hydroponics, hydroponic, ice-cream, tub, container, vegetable
Lettuce seedlings.

Step 6: Watch it Grow

Once put together, you shouldn't need to water or fertilise the seedling. Just relax and watch it grow. If pests are a problem, place a micro mesh over the plant (a cheap nylon mesh food cover can work well).

The hydroponics lettuce one week later:

Hydroponics, hydroponic, lettuce, ice-cream, tub, container,
One week later.

The hydroponics lettuce 10 days later:

Hydroponic, hydroponic, Kratky, ice-cream, container, lettuce, cheap,diy
10 days later

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