Hydroponic Wick System

Hydroponic Wick SystemThis is the most basic Homemade Hydroponic System that exists and is incredibly quick, cheap and easy to build.

This is a great project for your children to complete during their vacation,  not only is is fun and easy to build the hydroponic system, they can also watch their own plant grow.

Have the children decorate the container with paint or stickers to complete the project.

This system is ideal for growing herbs, lettuce and even flowers, I have a Pansy growing in the pictured system.  (The nutrient solution has food coloring in it for clarity.)

The plants can sit on any ledge where they can get plenty of sun.

Basic Design

The nutrient solution is contained in a reservoir underneath the plant pot.  A wick is placed into the plant pot and run down into the nutrient solution.  The wick draws  the nutrient solution up into the plant pot where the roots of the plants can use it.

Design Considerations

  • Select containers big enough for the plant you wish to grow
  • The nutrient needs to be kept in a dark reservoir to stop algae growing, you can decorate the outside of the container to stop light getting in

Design Components


The size of the reservoir is dependent on the size of the plant pot you are going to use, the plant pot needs to sit securely in the top of the reservoir.

In the picture I have used a soft-drink bottle with the top 1/3 cut off and inverted to make the plant pot.  The wick has been thread through the mouth of the bottle down into the nutrient solution.

Ensure your reservoir does not let light in and that it is not susceptible to corrosion.  Good reservoirs are made of plastic, glass or stainless steel.


The wick can be made from a large number of materials, the material simply needs to absorb liquid.  In the picture above I have used a wick designed for an oil lamp (new wick as oil in the wick will stop it from working).  For larger systems have multiple wicks.

Here are a few household items that can be used as a wick:

  • dish sponge
  • dish cloth
  • piece of a tea towel
  • rope (not nylon)


In the picture Hydroponic Wick System I am using washed Pumice for my Pansy to grow in, other aggregates you can use include washed Gravel, Perlite, Vermiculite and Rock wool.  You can find further information on these aggregates here.

Please send me photos of your Homemade Hydroponic Wick Systems as I would love to see them, email them to Henry(?)HomemadeHydroponic.net

NB please replace the (?) with @ in the email address.

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Vegetable Growing Guide

Wonderful Vegetables from my Homemade Hydroponic SystemHere is a list of some of the vegetables that you can grow in your homemade hydroponic system.  I have put the recommended nutrient concentration (CF) beside each of the vegetables,  grow within these ranges for the best produce.
Details of specific hydroponic system requirements are also detailed below.

Vegetables with similar CF ranges can easily be grown in the same hydroponic system to give you an amazing variety of produce.

Beans CF 18-25

Climbing beans produce a high yield in a small ground area by using air space.  This makes them a good subject for a greenhouse hydroponic system.  Butter beans grow especially well.

Beetroot CF 18-22

Beetroot grown hydroponically has a superb flavour.  Large tender roots are easily grown in an aggregate filled system taking between two and three months to reach a edible size.

Broccoli CF 18-24

Broccoli will grow well over a long period of time, cut the main head early so that a number of small heads will form.

Brussels Sprouts CF 18-24

Brussels Sprouts should be grown outside as they require a cold period to ensure that the sprouts are small and compact, when they form.

Cabbages CF 18-24

Cabbages are easily grown all year round, however they tend to use up a large amount of space.  If you want to keep a supply of fresh cabbage available, keep sowing a few extra plants every two or three weeks.

Capsicum CF 20-27

Capsicums grow from spring to autumn, leave plenty of room and ensure they get lots of sun if you want the fruit to colour.

Carrots CF 17-22

You should only grow carrots if you have plenty of space available in your growing container as they need to stay in position for longer than most crops.  Sand is a good medium to use, thin them at an early stage then allow the rest to develop to a size your growing container can hold. You will find that even the largest carrots are juicy and delicious with no sign of woodiness.

Cauliflower CF 18-24

Cauliflowers grown hydroponically become extremely large so unless you especially want to grown them hydroponically, do not put too many in.  They will need up to 500cm of growing space.  You will need to provide some shade over the heart as it forms to keep it white.

Celery CF 18-24

Gravel filled aggregate systems as well as NFT systems can be used to grow celery. Generally the plants will need spraying for rust at some stage.

Cucumbers CF 16-20

The smaller varieties of cucumber are the most suitable for greenhouse systems, as you can train them upwards over a frame.  Use a hybrid variety, some are resistant to mildew and you will find that other will develop to an enormous size if you let them.

Leeks CF 16-20

Leeks have a lengthy growth cycle and are compact and easy to grow hydroponically.  Leeks are best grown in an aggregate filled system.

Lettuce CF 8-12

Regular sowing of lettuce are needed to keep your home supplied. You can remove leaves leaving the plants in the system if only small quantities are required.  Grown in a greenhouse fresh lettuce can be available at anytime.  You may need to keep the plants shaded in hot areas, since they do not like too much heat.

Marrows CF 10-20

Zucchinis, Courgettes and other types of marrow grow so quickly hydroponically that it is necessary to restrict their growth,  keep picking zucchinis before they grow too large otherwise their growth cycle will stop.  One of two zucchini plants are enough to keep most families supplied.

Onions CF 18-22

Onions require too much space for most hydroponic systems and will grow well if you are keen to have some in your garden.  Spring onions especially are good to have growing for use in salads.

Peas CF 14-18

Peas grow really easily, plant them behind low growing plants with a frame to grow up.

Potatoes CF 16-24

Potatoes grow quickly in aggregate filled system and require large growing containers.

Pumpkin CF 18-24

Pumpkins will spread rapidly and become very large, ensure you allow plenty of space and train over a frame if possible

Radish CF 16-22

Radishes will grow extremely quickly so just plant a few at a time.  You can grow them in water with no nutrients added for the first weeks.

Spinach CF 18-23

Spinach is easily grown all year round.  You can remove leaves leaving the plants in the hydroponic system.

Silverbeet CF 18-24

Silverbeet are easily grown all year round, however they tend to use up a large amount of space.  You can easily remove leaves from the plants while leaving them growing in the hydroponic system.

Sweetcorn CF 16-22

Sweetcorn takes up a large amount of space,  If you would like to try it in your system make sure that it is carefully placed so the other plants will not be deprived of light by the rapidly developing corn

Tomatoes CF 22-28

Tomatoes grow extremely well in hydroponic systems.  If placed in a greenhouse with plenty of light a tomato plant will produce fruit all year round.  For heavy cropping allow the lateral immediately below a fruit set to develop and remove any other laterals up to the developing fruit

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Advantages of Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems can dramatically reduce the amount of time required to produce good plants.  Any vegetable, flower, shrub or even trees can be grown without the need to cultivate, weed or mulch, while watering and fertilising can be taken care of by automatic systems.

No longer will the quality of your soil dictate the quality or quantity of your produce.  Hydroponic systems can be established anywhere, irrespective of the soil, climate or the amount of space you have.

Superior produce from my homemade hydroponic systemYou will discover that the vegetables and fruit produced by hydroponic systems have a superior flavour and texture.  The plants have all the required nutrients readily available to them and don’t need to waste energy developing large root systems.  Because the plants have all the nutrients that they require they will develop faster, be more healthy and have a better resistance to disease than plants grown in soil.

It is possible to further increase the growth speed of the plants by techniques such as heating the nutrient solution to the optimal temperature for the plants roots.

You will be able to grow a larger number of plants in a small area producing a far higher yield than normally possible.  When plans are removed from a hydroponic system, new seedlings can immediately replace them making it possible for you to have a continuous yield.

You will find that only a small number of seedlings are required to produce what you need, as losses from pests and disease are greatly reduced when you grow hydroponically, especially if your plants are housed in a greenhouse or other structure.  Without dirt in the system it is easy to keep everything much cleaner enabling you to eliminate problems caused by many soil borne diseases.

You will find that hydroponic systems are highly efficient, require a low capital outlay and produce high yields with less effort.  This allows you to easily produce cheap quality vegetables and fruit almost all year round. Hydroponic strawberries

There are seven main designs used for Hydroponics systems, these will be explained in the System Design section.

With a little imagination you will be able to have a hydroponic system in almost any location, from the smallest indoor system to large outdoor systems.

Hydroponics will provide you with a challenging and exciting hobby and best of all you get to eat the most fantastic fruit and vegetables grown at your own home

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