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I made a very inexpensive system that functions similarly to some AeroGarden models, out of a 5 gallon bucket. It uses 16 of the standard AeroGrow white baskets and sponges. You can save money by using the biodome sponges from Park Seed.
- 5 gallon bucket with lid – Get at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, etc…
- Air pump, stone and tubing – this is to oxygenate the nutrient solution. A cheap one from Walmart or Amazon will work fine.
- 1.5 inch hole saw – 1.25 inch works too. It’ll be a little tighter and sit higher up.
- AeroGarden grow baskets
- AeroGarden sponges – Or save some money and get the biodome sponges from Park Seed.
- Nutrient solution – You can use the stuff AeroGrow sells which works fine. In the long run, something like MasterBlend is cheaper. Here’s more information on buying and mixing that.
For germinating, seeds can be placed directly in the sponges and baskets, and set in the lid with nutrient solution touching the lower third/half of the sponges. In my testing, sprouts come up within two weeks. It would probably speed up the process to heat the water some, but I haven’t tried that.
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I made a video showing how I put this together: