An unfortunate thing happened to my little office basil growing experiment, I got some fungal gnats and not wanting to be the guy known for his office infested with flies I decided to throw together a little hydroponic system primarily consisting of items I had around the office.
I started with an old reusable water bottle I had previously used to store water for my prior soil based basil plant. I filled the bottle with water, added a couple of handfuls of hydrocon clay pellets, dropped in an air stone attached to a cheap aquarium pump and I have a neat little bubbler system.
After a couple of weeks there was great root growth (water is not really green just poor camera, bad lighting and unfortunate use of blue water bottle)
After a couple more weeks, when I was away for Christmas vacation I came back to a plant though needing some water was still growing strong.
For nutrients I broke off the smallest piece of some generic brand plant spike fertilizer I can put in piece in every week or so along with a small pinch of epsom salt.
When it is time to harvest, I made good of office supplies: a couple of binder clips attached to some rubber bands provides good air circulation to dry out any extra basil I want to store for later use.
Hey it is not pretty, but it is cheap and provides me some fresh basil to add to my omelets from the cafeteria downstairs and even a little extra dry basil to use at home.
If I didn’t have a big house blocking my southern exposed window, otherwise I would have completely tried this myself. The basic idea is to take come recycled plastic bottles, use an air pump and some tubing to create an air water pump to push the nutrients to the top and gravity takes care of the rest.
The great part of this is that it is an open design community making and sharing new innovations as they are discovered. Here are the complete instructions of the most recent (version 3) of their system. They also offer a complete kit if you want to save some time with assembly.
I actually thought I already posted about this bad boy which unfortunately is only a design concept from Philips. For those that are not familiar:
Aquaponics is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating environment.
Aquatic animal effluent (for example fish waste) accumulates in water as a by-product of keeping them in a closed system or tank (for example a recirculating aquaculture system). The effluent-rich water becomes high in plant nutrients but this is correspondingly toxic to the aquatic animal.
This system is called the BioTower, the first 2 levels are hydroponic plants with the third being algae. The fourth layer contains shrimp and fish which produce organic waste which is stored in the bottom layer.
The lights are powered using optical fibers from the sun and the methane from the organic waste powers the lights at night. The plants and seafood can then be consumed all powered by the various ecosystems.
I couldn’t even imagine what something like this would cost if it came out of the design phase, though a simple cover over the organic waste and this would make a great conversation piece.