DIY Hydroponic System Grows Herbs on the Wall

Wall-Mounted Hydroponic Garden

Everyone knows that you should eat healthy, but it’s not always easy. Fresh and healthy foods are often more expensive than processed foods. When money is tight, sometimes it’s best to just grow your own produce. What if you don’t have room for a garden, though?

When [Matthew] returned home from the 2014 San Mateo Maker Faire, he found himself in a similar situation to many other faire attendees. He saw something awesome and was inspired to build it himself. In this case, it was a wall-mounted hydroponic garden. [Matthew] started out with some basic requirements for his project. He knew which wall he wanted to cover with plants, so that gave him the maximum possible dimensions. He also knew that they may have to remove the garden temporarily to perform maintenance on the wall in the future. And as for what to grow, [Matthew] loves lots of flavor in his foods. He chose to grow herbs and spices.

[Matthew] purchased most of the main components from Amazon and had them shipped to his doorstep. Everything else was found at the local hardware store. The base of the build is an off-the-shelf planter box. The drainage hole in the bottom was plugged up to prevent water from leaking out. A different hole was drilled in the side of the box to allow a garden hose to be mounted to the box. The hose is connected through a float valve, keeping the water level inside the box just right.

[Matthew] then built a frame out of dimensional lumber. The frame ended up being about 4.33 feet wide by 8 feet tall. The boards were fastened together with metal braces and mounting plates. A full sheet of plywood was then nailed to the front of the frame. Thick plastic sheet was then wrapped around the frame and stapled in place.

[Matthew] purchased giant planter pockets to actually hold the plants. He tried stapling them to the front of the frame, but discovered that staples were not strong enough to hold the weight of the plants, soil, and water. He instead used screws and washers.

Next, a submersible pump was mounted inside the bottom planter box. This pump is used to circulate the water and nutrients up to the plants above. Two hoses were connected to the pump and run up the sides of the upper frame. These hoses evenly distribute the water to the plants.

The final step was to mount the unit in place against the wall. [Matthew] didn’t want to screw into the wall and cause any damage. Instead, he placed a couple of bricks inside of the planter box and rested the bottom of the frame on top of those. The top of the frame is essentially hung from a railing up above with some thin steel wire.

The whole unit looks very slick and takes up little space. With some more ingenuity, one could likely build something similar with even more DIY components to save some more money.

Comments

  1. Hirudinea says:

    OK, first I have to say it, Jamaica, Herb, Huh-huh. Now that’s out of my system I have to day I like this, and it would be great up here in Canada where 6 months of the year you get cardboard produce in the store, this could make winter a little nicer but I’m still worried about leaks, I’ed like to hear an update on this after it’s been running 6 months.

    • Hi Hirudinea! I am actually in the California Bay Area… that is where I constructed the system. I will update the blog if anything changes or any modifications are made to it. We intend to do some improvements like remote monitoring of the system, and shielding from the elements. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Figureitout says:

    Grew my 1st garden couple years ago, hooked ever since. Basically slow motion experiments you can eat…I have an interest in squeezing the most food out of least space, found that corn and some vine plant like cucumbers do well together (they’re friends :). Tried to think of ways to build up a garden, all I can think of is steps or a spiral; an added benefit is any water that leaks trickles down to lower crops, saving water.

    Good for bees’ health, makes food cheaper so we could feed everyone healthy food not canned food from massive pesticide/insecticide farms; they have a hard time pollinating b/c the bees die from the poisons, guess who’s next…

    If you can’t think of any electronics to use, think again. At least an electric fence, sensors to trigger sound waves or relay a motor to scare away birds/animals.

  3. Tom says:

    Might suggest using individual pockets, when you get aphids you can remove just that pocket, spray all the others then the next day remove the bad one (you didn’t spray).

  4. vonskippy says:

    Seems too tiny to grow enough of anything to be all that useful.

    • Eirinn says:

      Herbs are used in small amounts spice up foods, excess produce can be dried and used later. Many herbs have intensified taste and aroma when dried and you only need a little bit while other herbs are best fresh, like Basil which should indeed be grown by itself (it also has an invasive root system). I do indeed spot basil in one of the pouches which I personally wouldn’t recommend. Some other herbs are low moisture plants, such as some variants of thyme and most if not all rosemary types. Whet plants often have diluted taste and aroma, but grow faster. :)

  5. Christophe says:

    Reminds me an awfull lot like this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/646997027/superbag-urban-harvesting-made-easy
    Except its a lot cleaner and nice looking.
    Still a great project though !!

  6. ARCHON says:

    Put some goldfish in the planter reservoir for a more self-regulating nitrogen system.

  7. edge says:

    Areyou allowed to call it hydroponics if you use soil?

    • Hey edge! You are right… the system is not a hydroponic one… I should have clarified that in the article I wrote. Usually hydroponic systems use just pure water and nutrients to grow plants. In this case the system is heavily reliant on the soil.

  8. Macon says:

    First, it’s great to see hydroponics on Hackaday. I’ve started looking into hydroponics/aquaponics/aeroponics recently. I want to promote the advancement of Closed Ecology Life Support Systems for use in space and eventually Mars. That said, one sentence in particular hit on a pet peeve of mine:

    “Fresh and healthy foods are often more expensive than processed foods.”

    While that may be the case, the inference is that processed foods are not healthy. Many of them aren’t, but that varies wildly. The “Organic” movement has demonized technology and food processing instead of using them as tools to improve the real problems. Genetic engineering, for example, can free us from the need to use pesticides. Cyanide occurs naturally in apple seeds, and I can picture a small scale operation accidentally concentrating it by trying to reduce waste and squeezing the last little bit of sauce out of the piles of dregs that wouldn’t go through the press. A properly regulated industrial process takes stems to mitigate obscure risks like these, if only to avoid expensive lawsuits.

    There are also a bunch of issues with centralizing our food production, though. I like the idea of trying to get the best of both worlds by miniaturizing industrial agriculture. That’s why hydroponics is such a cool technology.

    • Pusalieth says:

      I agree, so many people now assume that food that which is most humanly untouched is what’s best for us, they all sound like a bunch of idiotic Darwinists, plus they completely reject all of history, of disease, hunger, etc from that approach. We are human beings why can’t we shape the earth to fit our needs. I think part of the problem is people jump to irrational conclusions. If synthetic pesticides are bad, and humans make mistakes plus don’t know what they know if the future then they must not know now, fallacy logic.

  9. I have tried growing herbs on the windowsill and it turns out to be a major hassle. This is definitely a better way to do it. I like to use fresh herbs in my salads, soups and pasta dishes.

  10. piclock says:

    I made one of those green walls, contruction here => https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/+GeorgesA/albums/5885164023951000161, more pics on my G+ account

  11. I was always, as a child, fascinated by terraced systems, thinking, from a purely geometrical perspective, that you could thus increase the amount of “acreage” manifold. However, the bottle-neck of course is light. But the good news: most plants are actually using much less light per square foot than the sun provides, so that indoors as well as outdoors, while soil-based farming does not lend itself to vertical arrangement, hydroponics (or aquaponics) can.

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