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The Cheap Vegetable Gardner created this soil moisture sensor using nothing more than picture wall hanging hooks, a soda straw, hot glue, and some Plaster of Paris.

After a little research there was the classic science class method of creating a homemade sensor by simply putting two galvanized nails in the soil and measuring the resistance between them. A major problem with this solution is the soil composition can significantly vary the resistance and keeping the spacing between the nails could be troublesome.

After a little more research I came across the method that has been working well for over 50 years. This method includes taking two metal probes and inserting them into a gypsum block and measure the resistance between them. The gypsum absorbs the water and provides a decent range of resistance and moisture measurement.

Unfortunately I was fresh out of gypsum, so I looked around the garage and found a good substitute, Plaster of Paris…


How to make a cheap soil moisture sensor

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


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