The percolator is a fantastic system for the beginning hydroponics gardener to build. Very few materials are required and all of them can be obtained from around the home or very cheaply from a hardware store.
First up is a container with a lid. The container houses the hydroponic nutrient solution and keeps it in the dark to prevent algae from growing. The lid keeps it from evaporating as well as supporting a yogurt container that contains the growing plant. The yogurt container has been modified into a net pot by cutting out or drilling some holes around the base to let nutrients easily flow out of it. A plant is held in the yogurt container by a hydroponic medium such as expanded clay or anything else that would be suitable such as rockwool, vermiculite or perlite.
There is also a hole in the container lid for a small piece of PVC pipe, through which an air tube runs. There is another small piece of air tubing that runs from the PVC pipe and into the net pot.
The way in which nutrients are delivered to the plant is really quite cool. The air that runs down the PVC pipe blows bubbles. These bubbles rise up the pipe and form smaller bubbles inside the air tubing that runs to the net pot. With each bubble a small amount of hydroponic nutrients are delivered to the plant and continued bubbling delivers a steady and gentle flow of nutrients to the growing plant.
The Percolator is an ideal hydroponics system for single plants because the nutrients for each plant can be controlled perfectly. Try and build your own percolator for growing hydroponic tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, or lettuce.
Pavel Sluka is the owner of Hydroponics Habitat.