Purchasing an AeroGarden can be expensive for many people especially those on a tight budget. But did you know you can make your own using recycled materials?
How to build your own AeroGarden with recyclables by using recycled plastic, old sponges, soft drink bottles that we normally throw away, sharp knife and scissors and masking tape.
So, what do I need?
Most of the materials are free. You may need to rummage through the garbage bin.
Don’t forget to wear some gloves!
You will need a box with a lid. The container needs to hold water and not leak. I’ve used a plastic storage box.
- Styrofoam box with a lid or some other water-holding container with a lid (this could be free from your nearest fruit and vegetable shop, fishmongers or butchers)
- You will need to purchase seed pots between four to six would be enough. The pots should have enough drainage holes to allow room for the roots to grow into the tank with nutrient water.
- Fish Tank pump (look online through eBay, Amazon or buy swap and sell)
- You will need the styrofoam cooler lid/plastic lid off the box
- Mark out where you are going to cut your holes/squares
- Create six/seven holes/square just smaller than the top of the seed pots for the seed pods (similar to the diagram below)
- Cut an extra hole on top of the Styrofoam lid for the water and nutrients to be inserted
- Insert the seed pots into the lid, taking care when pushing down until the pot is level with the top.
- Mix up your dirt-free growing medium.
This is just a rough draft of my project. I used recycled water bottles. I cut them partway down and positioned them where I want to cut the holes in the lid. This will be 7 hole or 7 square plant pod holders and one hole at the front where you will add water and nutrients.
You may also need a small hole at the back of the lid for your pump wires.
How to make you own dirt-free seed growing medium?
- Mix in equal size portions
- Add to your seed pots
- Level off.
Liquid Hydroponic Nutrients purchased from your nearest garden centre or at your online store. Mix the nutrients according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the box or bottle.
Usually, it’s two capfuls to your water reservoir. However, the amount much depends on the size of your water container.
- Position the box where you want it to be. Just remember that once it’s full of water, it’s best not to move it.
- Add water but do not fill right to the top.
- Leave enough space to allow the flow of air for the seeds.
Adding the Pump
- Add the pump into the box. Don’t turn it on just yet.
- Adjust the pump to the low setting.
- Turn on the pump.
- You will see the liquid solutions combined with oxygen will begin to encourage root growth.
Insert the seed pots
Plant 3-4 seeds in each pot and add a little nutrient mixed with water to moisten the medium and to help the seeds sprout.
Replacement Grow Baskets Fit AeroGarens 50 pack can be purchased for Aerogardens from Amazon
Reusing your old seed pod grow baskets
Did you know you can recycle your grow baskets and the dome? Well, you can all you need to buy is the grow sponge, labels and seeds or even use your seeds which will save you a lot of money.
How do we recycle them?
- We take the old seed pods out of the baskets very carefully
- To do this, we need to cut the roots with scissors so that the old grow sponge can be easily removed
- Wash them and the domes in water and vinegar, and this will sterilise the equipment.
- Insert the new grow sponges
- Add about three seeds and press gently into the sponges
- Reinstall your new seedpods into your homemade hydroponic system
- Add water and the recommended dosage of nutrients to your water.
How to make your seed pod baskets?
I have chosen to do a square hole for my Aerogarden project and insert this old seeding pot plant. The seedling pot has holes underneath.
First you will need to wash the containers with water that contains vinegar/bleach. The number of containers depends on how many plants you are going to grow.
Once the containers have been washed you need to make holes in the sides with either a drill that has a large bit, or you could cut out sections on either side so the roots can grow.
Warning: if using a Stanley knife please be careful. My preference is to use the drill.
Now that you have made plenty of holes in the sides you can now add your grow sponges.
What are the grow sponges made from?
Grow sponges that AeroGarden uses made from Sphagnum Peat. But if funds are tight, you can substitute air conditioning sponge seals or foam. You will need them to size.
AeroGarden sponges purchased in packs of 50 from Amazon.
But If you don’t like the idea of using peat, you could use rock wool, which is chalk and rock, 1-inch starter cubes.
Rockwool breaks down easily and can get into your pump.
You could try this little experiment for fun!
2-3 Nylon mesh sponges from the supermarket
- Cut open at one end
- Remove the sponge
- Keep the mesh
- Cut the sponges into strips about 1 ¼ inch wide
- You could get 3 strips out of one sponge
- They are also re-usable
- Wash them thoroughly and pull he roots and stems out of them
- Roll each piece of sponge and push them into your littleAeroGarden plastic baskets.
- Plant the seeds about 2-3 into the sponge using a toothpick and add a little nutrient water on top to moisten the sponge
- Add water and nutrients about 2 capfuls to the receptacle
- Insert seed pods
- Turn on your LED light
- Turn on the pump
- Watch them sprout
Can I use regular seeds in my aero garden
Yes! You can use the seeds that you have saved or purchased from the garden centre.
Making your own Domes
The domes I made from recycled clear plastic bottles. The dome covers the seed pod and acts as a greenhouse. In this photo, I used the top part of a water bottle, but you can also cut the bottom part off as well as I have done here in this photo.
This part of the dome is from the bottom of small juice bottle.
They both need to be tall enough for the seedlings to grow above the lid until the first true leaves form. Then the lid can be removed.
The bottle sits perfectly in top of the homemade grow basket that contains the peat and seed.
This is a rough idea of how the homemade system will look
LED Grow Lights
You can either set up your homemade Aero garden in a sunny position, but if that is not possible, you can buy grow lights to stand over the box.
LED lights are low wattage and low heat; as such, they don’t draw a great deal of electricity.
Another Alternative is to make your own LED Lights
1 large recycled coffee can
1 sizeable empty tub of margarine (container)
1 pack of two stick-on LED night lights
1 roll of duct tape
Spare batteries for the night lights
To see how to make this up to go to “The Garden is Illegal.”
Now we have our own built your AeroGarden hydroponic system made from recycled scraps from around your home. You can now check your system every day to see how your seeds are growing.
If you find any other recycled materials that have worked for you, I would love to here from you.
All the best.
If you are an AeroGarden lover or would like to become one, I would love to hear your feedback on the systems, plants you have grown or issues you have faced and success stories.
My reviews are based on my personal own experience and research. I never recommend poor quality products or create false reviews to make sales. It is my intention to explain products so you can make an informed decision on which ones suit your needs best. If you have any questions about this post’s content, please leave a comment below I would love to hear what you think about the article.