Hydroponic Herb Garden

Craft & Design Gardening

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In this week’s CRAFT Video, I show you how to set up a hydroponic herb garden on my rooftop in Brooklyn. Hydroponic gardening uses water more efficiently than traditional soil gardening, and is also a lot less messy for urban apartment dwellers. It’s easier to get set up than you might think! The basic idea is that you have a reservoir of water with all the nutrients the plants could want, being circulated close to the roots of the plants. Because the water is recirculated, the plants have more than one chance to grab the nutrients in the water, so they grow faster. Here are the basic components of a hydroponic garden:

  • A light-tight container (to inhibit algae growth)
  • Nutrient solution
  • A water pump and tubing (available at most pet stores)
  • Small plant-sized containers
  • Expanded clay pebbles or other growing medium

Of course there are highly sophisticated setups available out there, but this is all you’d need to get started. I used the Rainforest 318 system made by General Hydroponics (who makes the easiest-to-find nutrients), but you might start with a smaller kit or try to DIY your own system to meet your needs.


The Windowfarms project is a great place to learn to make your own custom window garden from mostly recycled materials. Photo above by Maya Nayak.


There are also some designs available on Thingiverse, like this “Bloombot” by Will Langford. You can even print your own growing cups from biodegradable plastic using vik’s design.


Kellbot has been working on her own aeroponic garden for some time now, and her aeroponic garden log is quite interesting to read.


Here’s an in-process shot from setting up my herb garden. I have more pictures on Flickr.

4 thoughts on “Hydroponic Herb Garden

  1. John Stoner says:

    I love the idea of hydroponic rooftop gardening, but as I watch your video, you add a lot of water to that bucket. Dirt is heavy, but I bet water is heavier.
    At my coop we have a lot of unused rooftop space, but it’s not structurally set up to support a green roof, and we don’t have the resources at the moment to reinforce it. I like the idea of putting some lightweight greenery up there. Do you really have to add so much water? could you maybe locate the reservoir elsewhere? We have a more solid section of roof we could use.

  2. Becky Stern says:

    There are setups that use less water, as well as ones that use the same amount of water but more evenly distribute the weight of the water. You can of course DIY your own setup using buckets or trays that won’t overload your roof. Check out Brookelynn’s tray system is smaller, you might try that to start: http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2009/04/flashback_hydroponic_veggie_ga.html Good luck!!

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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