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Vertical Gardening Made Simple
Plans and DVD Set
not enough space.1/8" black poly irrigation tubing 1/8" tubing poker 1/2" electrical conduit brackets Foil backed plastic bubble insulation 2 . This system aims to solve all those problems at once by gardening not horizontally. we show you how to make gardening "beds" out of two ordinary 4" thinwall PVC pipes. but can't because of zoning restrictions. A small pump feeds nutrient enriched water into the top of the pipes. Then it's just a matter of adding water and fertilizer to your bucket from time to time.80" 2x4 treated lumber 1 .40" 2x4 treated lumber 2 . 10 feet long. flowing past the plant roots. which are held in place by an inexpensive.1/2" black poly irrigation tubing 10' . and picking your produce.Many people would love to have a garden of their own. but vertically! The process is quite simple. You simply cut the pipes in half making four 5 ft long pipes and connect them with standard fittings.1 0 ' pieces of 4" thinwall PVC pipe 4 . So let's get started! CHAPTER 1: WHAT YOU WILL NEED 2 .fountain pump (approximately 200 GPH flow) 15' . which you can reach easily without bending over or kneeling down on the ground. so they will drain into a standard 5 gallon plastic bucket.2" to 4" schedule 20 (thinwall) adapter 2 . inert substance called Perlite.cut-your-own air conditioning filter 1 .4 3 " 2x4 treated lumber 1 .2 " "Ts" 5' .2" PVC pipe Approximately 30# of Perlite 10' septic drain sock 1 .2 " "Ls" 3 . or simply because there is too much work involved. using only a saw and a heat gun.
It is designed to poke an 1/8" hole in the 1/2" tubing. Sewer and drain (S&D). you'll have to adapt the pump's output side to attach to the 1/2" tubing. Otherwise the PVC can break down in sunlight and become brittle. and help to stabilize the plant in the pipes. As each pump is slightly different. This is also known as Schedule 20. 3 . buy 2" to 4" thickwall adapters AND a thickwall-thinwall reducer. and works marvellously in the bottom of these pipes to keep the Perlite from flowing into the bucket as the water drains. and it will be cheapest and simplest to use them if so. or from the inside of the stack if stored outside. The 1/2" and 1/8" tubing is available in the irrigation section of most home improvement stores. but relatively rigid (as compared to a garden hose). It consists of small white balls between the size of a pea and the size of a grain of rice. You will also need an 1/8" tubing punch. The fountain pump must be capable of lifting water 7' or more. They are flexible. This is a small 4" bushing that slides into the thickwall 2" to 4" adapter and makes it fit thinwall PVC. Try to buy PVC pipe that has been stored indoors.Foil backed "duct" tape A few nylon zip ties 1 . It can be difficult to find in some parts of the country. but it's almost always available. The store where you purchase your pump should be able to help you find the appropriate fittings. 2" to 4" thinwall PVC fittings may be available in your area. Because of this each has their own fittings. However if they are not available. etc. available in the same section. 4" thinwall PVC has a different outside diameter than thickwall.clean food-grade 5 gallon bucket and lid Fittings as needed to adapt the 1/2" poly to your chosen style of pump Notes on the materials needed: On the 4" PVC pipe it is absolutely necessary to have thinwall pipe. Perlite is a readily available material used in potting soils. The air conditioning filter is a plastic-based filter screen designed to allow you to cut a washable screen to fit your filter. They absorb water readily and hold it for the plants. It should have a flow of about 200 GPH as rated at 1' lift. The 2" PVC pipe can be thickwall (Schedule 40) or thinwall (Schedule 20).
until you run out of room. The cuts should be crosswise with the pipe. It is a sticky backed foil tape. it is approximately 1/4" thick. Septic drain sock is a fabric "sock" that is placed over the outside of 4" septic drain line to prevent it from silting in. On one end. Make certain all ends are square. and as thin as you can make them. CHAPTER 2: STARTING THE ASSEMBLY On a large.25" wide. Mark two parallel lines 2" apart on the pipe. This is a tool designed to provide 1000-1500 degrees similar to a hair drier but for stripping old paint. lay the 43" 2x4 across them with the wide side horizontal. The drawing at right shows how it will look when finished. 4 . running the full length. Screw the 40" board between those marks on each 2x4. etc. straight mark. An excellent way of doing this is to use 1. These marks will be the center of the cuts you make. Make them all the same length. Then mark the other line at 8" from the top end. covered in a thin coat of aluminum foil. Measure 57" down from that end (which will become the top) and make a mark. 2' 2". hacksaw. The foil tape is designed for use in ducts. Then measure 3.5" angle iron. Mark one line at 2" from one end (which will be the top). and approximately 2. with the wide side vertical. This will allow you to soften the pipe to make the holes for the plants as described later. but it is NOT "duck tape". Make sure they are not twisted relative to the pipe. flat surface lay out the 80" 2x4s parallel to one another 40" apart. The dead air space in the bubbles insulates while the aluminum foil reflects the heat and light.5" down from that and make another mark. then put three long screws into each end.The foil insulation should be available at most hardware stores. circular saw (with a plywood blade turned backwards). or a similar tool to cut out these slots. One tool that you must have is a heat gun. then 1' 8". Mark each one at the proper width if necessary. which sets firmly on the pipe to give a solid. Next take the 4" pipes and cut them in half to approximately 5'. It will filter out the debris that may get past the filter in the 4" pipes in this vertical gardening system. made of plastic bubbles like packing material. Use a reciprocal saw. Do the same on the other 80" board. then 1' 2". etc. 2' 8".
Obviously. and set them 11" apart. Then repeat for each of the other slots on all four pipes. Spritz water onto the hot plastic to cool it quickly and make it hold shape. but NOT the "T" pieces. while the last 2" "T" should point 5 . you must keep the heat gun moving so that no one spot gets too hot and starts to brown. Lay a "T" assembly next to an "L" assembly. Then glue a short piece of 2" pipe into the adapter. cut a piece of 1.25" pipe under the bottom side and hold at a 30-45 degree angle. Then use the heatgun to soften each side of the slot in the 4" PVC.25" PVC pipe about 1' long. Then glue a 10" piece of 2" pipe into the end of both "L" pieces. Next begin assembling the manifold for the drain. and mark. the water will all drain into this "T" and down into the bucket. Make sure they are aligned with one another and both 4" fittings point exactly the same direction. You should now have two "TL" assemblies finished. The goal is to push in the top side and pull out the bottom side. Glue a 4" piece of pipe into the only remaining "T" joint on each assembly. As you do this. center-to-center. Set the "TL" assemblies 11" apart as before. and glue the 10" piece of 2" pipe that you glued into the "L" so that when glued into the "T" the pipes will stay 11" apart. Make four filters (one for each pipe). To accomplish this you must gently heat an ovalshaped area. thereby making a hole approximately 1.5" in diameter when viewed from the top in which the plants will be placed. push the top side in and work the 1. Make sure that each 4" fitting is pointing in exactly the same direction. facing the opposite direction from the assemblies. When it is the right temperature. cut and glue the pipes so that when glued into the final "T". cut. Lay your filter material on a stable surface (that you don't mind some cut marks in!) and lay the 4" adapter on top of it. it is best to practice the process on a scrap piece of pipe before starting this on any of the real pieces. Repeat for the other "L" and then both "T"s. each 4" fitting will be 11" from the other. Mark. Then lay another "T" in between the two "TL" assemblies. Then glue an "L" into that. When it does. This is a good time to cut the filters for the bottom of your pipes.25" pipe. with the longer side of the oval running the length of the pipe. Repeat with the other "T" and "L" assemblies. that part of the pipe should yield readily to a firm pressure from the 1. and cut around it with a sharp knife.When all four pipes are slotted this way. Start by gluing the thickwall to thinwall adapters into the 2" to 4" adapters. and smooth the burrs off of the ends. Measure from the middle of one pipe to the middle of the other.
press the filters you made earlier into the 4" adapters. Now it is time to mount this manifold you just made to the frame. Using the tubing poker. along the back of a side 2x4. the manifold will set with the 2" part of the 2" to 4" adapters up against the horizontal 2x4. Turn the frame around again and drill an 1/8" hole at a 45 degree angle. angling down from the outside. Thread the other one into the 4" pipe through the 1/8" hole. With the frame standing upright. with each end cut at a 45 degree angle. Start by turning the frame around so that you can work from the back. or you just attach it with plumber's strap. poke 1/8" holes into the black poly tubing between each pipe. Now you have finished the frame and the pipes.5" brackets. with the "lips" of the holes facing outward. Drill two in each pipe. and the back of the lower horizontal one. Cut the 1/8" tubing into 12" lengths. run the 1/2" poly tubing along the underside of the top 2x4. if available. On paper this looks much more complicated than it actually is. put a screw (or two) into the top of each pipe. it's time to hook up the plumbing. Wear a face mask to protect your lungs from the dust. Making sure that the pipes are parallel to the edges and each other. screwing it directly into the board behind it.in the opposite direction. Using 1/2" electrical conduit fasteners. 6 . Cut a piece of 2" pipe 6" long and push (but not glue) it into the bottom of the drain "T". Set it in the bottom of a clean 5 gallon bucket and set the bucket underneath the drain "T". Next fill up each pipe with Perlite. Now attach your pump to the bottom of the 1/2" tubing with a hose clamp and any fittings that may be necessary to adapt it together. this way as you glue them in you'll know exactly where to twist them for the proper orientation. Using your fingers only (no tools) to force one end of the 1/8" tubing into the 1/2" tubing. and down along side the drain where your bucket will set. Shake the frame/pipe assembly well and top off the Perlite again. a 2x4 mounted over the manifold in front of the other 2x4. Then glue them in place. Then put a small mark connecting the 4" fittings and the pipes. Then set the 4" pipes into the fittings like they are going to go. Make sure that each is aligned properly. You can mount it securely with 2. so refer to the video if this seems confusing. Once attached. into the side of the top of the pipe approximately 1" from the end. screwed to the back board.
a foil backed tape!) and cutting it out as necessary to fit around the pipes and seal in the temperature and keep out most bugs. to help this. And that's it . the final step is to insulate the bucket. deep into the ground so it will be very stable. Or. But once you have done that attach it to the poly tubing so that the pump will set on the bottom of the bucket when the bucket is centered under the drain. it can be mounted freestanding outdoors by driving 8' T-posts into the ground on either side of it. mice. out the small tubes and into the top of the Perlite. Place it over the end of the bottom of the drain pipe and put two nylon zip ties around it to hold it in place. if you are in a protected structure such as a greenhouse (where there will never be any gusts of wind that could blow it over!) you can make it freestanding. the details of this step will vary depending on the pump you purchase. then covering the lid in foil. Finally. Next hook up the pump. taping it in place with foil duct tape (NOT the "Duck" tape you're familiar with . The lid should be wrapped too. we suggest wrapping the bucket in silver foil insulation. tie a knot in one end and cut it off about 6" long from the knot. which can hurt the growth of your plants. filter down into the drain and back into the bucket. and attaching them using wire or brackets. it can be mounted directly to the wall of a building by screwing through the upper horizontal 2x4 into the side of the building. cut a 2x4 approximately 4' long (use your own judgment as to the exact length!) and screw or nail the center of it to the bottom of one of the vertical 2x4's (the "legs"). when water is added to the bucket it will be pumped up. by first cutting the bucket lid to fit around the pipes and cords coming out of the bucket. This has the added side benefit of keeping the sun from deteriorating the plastic in the bucket and making it brittle.your vertical garden is ready to plant! CHAPTER 3: MOUNTING OPTIONS This system is designed to be mounted in one of several ways. lizards and other small animals. to do so. The bucket will get extremely hot in the sunshine. Use stainless or plastic fittings and clamps to avoid corrosion in the fertilizer water they will be pumping. At this point. you should be able to stand back and see your finished vertical garden. as you may need to adapt the pump's outgoing side to fit the 1/2" fitting. the dead air space in the bubbles will insulate while the aluminum foil will reflect the heat and light.The next thing you'll need is the drain sock. Then .
To do so. this system does not lend itself well to starting plants from seed. These will be screwed into the "footer" piece. and the vertical piece on each side of the vertical garden as braces. check for leaks and make sure everything is working as it should. approximately 2' long at their longest point with opposing 45 degree angles. a small trowel. Then repeat all these steps for the other "leg" of the garden. when holding the finished brace in your hand. But this is only an option to be used at your own risk. Don't worry if a few broken roots fall away. I prefer using the handle end of a screwdriver. with 45 degree angles on both ends. and the bucket no longer takes more water. seeds tend to fall through the cracks of the Perlite and disappear. more will soon grow to replace them. Lower it into a bucket of clean water and swish back and forth several times. wiggle it back and forth to make sure the Perlite will not fall off the walls and back into the hole you just made. let me emphasize that for maximum safety it should be screwed directly to a stable structure! CHAPTER 4: PLANTING SEEDLINGS Start by filling up the water bucket and plugging in the pump. you will need to use a seed-starter plug that will give the seed a place to live until it starts taking root. it is the right size for most small plants. so you will need to refill the bucket several times in the first few hours before it is saturated. or any other tool that will fit in the "lip" of the vertical pipes. 8 . If you wish to grow from seed. These should be readily available in most stores with a gardening section. being careful not to break off the stems of the young plants. It should be quite stable and gentle nudging should be inadequate to knock it down. To make that clear. hold it vertically and push it firmly into the Perlite at a slight angle. depending on the size of the plant different tools may be used such as a wide knife. A better option is in most places to buy young seedlings or to transplant them. gently remove the plants and their soil from the tray and (if necessary) gently break up the soil to loosen it. To use it. the Perlite will absorb a great deal of water as you start doing this. When that is done you need to make a hole in the Perlite large enough for your chosen plants.cut two shorter pieces for braces. You will know it is saturated when the lowest "lip" in the pipes has wet Perlite grains all the way out to the edge. one side of the 2x4 will be approximately 7" longer than the other. Although it is possible.
The mixture will immediately start recycling through the pipes and often you can often see a visible difference in the plants over a few hours after fertilizing. Then take a small scoop of Perlite and fill in around each of the plants. 9 . this will fertilize a five gallon bucket of water for anywhere from a day to a week. depending on how fast your plants are growing and producing. for lettuce. and herbs. slowly lower the roots into the holes you made. if the nutrients are not in the water they cannot be in the plant! And by the same token. Repeat until each of the "lips" have been filled. Mix together thoroughly and add to the bucket of fresh water. or through the leaves. Unlike soil growing where a hardy plant can draw much "food" out of even poor soil. and nudge them with a screwdriver or butter knife to get fully into the hole. most flowers. For a 55 gallon drum multiply all the numbers in the formula by ten. etc. CHAPTER 5: FERTILIZER The concept of hydroponic growing is that ALL food must enter the plant through the water. the following formula works well for us: 0. if you pick 5 pounds of strawberries then 5 pounds of water and fertilizer had to be available for those plants to make them! The type of fertilizer you use will depend entirely on what you intend to grow. Over the course of the next few days.4 (4 tenths!) ounces Lettuce Formula (8-15-36) (See Chapter 10: Suppliers) 0. stirring very well.4 (4 tenths!) ounces Calcium Nitrate 0.When 90% or more of the dirt has been washed away. a few of the outside leaves may wilt. Each plant in each environment will feed differently so you will have to monitor them yourself to know when they need more fertilizer. the humidity. leaving the "crown" (the depth the plant was buried before) at or slightly below the level of the lip. Add fertilizer to the bucket immediately after planting.25 (1 fourth!) ounces Magnesium Sulfate All measurements are by weight. Set it in place so that the leaves face the sun just as they did before transplanting. but they should recover from the shock of transplanting and adapt to their new home quickly. packing the new Perlite gently around the roots. This will stabilize them and keep them surrounded by damp Perlite. as described in the next chapter. the temperature.
When you see your plants starting to look peaked. Which means it's past time to add more fertilizer. You will need to add water several times a week in most 10 . CHAPTER 6: MAINTAINING YOUR VERTICAL GARDEN One of the greatest things about this gardening system is that it is almost entirely maintenance free. in addition to adding fertilizer to the water.4 (4 tenths!) ounces Calcium Nitrate 0. However each environment and plant is different so you may wish to modify it or add supplements to it from time to time. Your vertical garden should be visually checked on a daily basis if possible. we can't offer any more detailed advice than we already have here . we recommend spraying the beds with a solution of fish emulsion and seaweed. few bugs. The many ways to fertilize are nearly infinite. This fertilizer formula works very well for all types of lettuce and most herbs.4 (4 tenths!) ounces Strawberry Formula (8-12-32) (See Chapter 7: Suppliers) 0. There are no weeds. or see strange spots and odd colors in the leaves. not very vibrant. long and lanky. which is one of the primary uses for this system.25 (1 fourth!) ounces Magnesium Sulfate All instructions are the same as for the lettuce. For growing strawberries. unfortunately due to the large amount of possibilities involved. a pale yellow color.trial and error will teach you the exact requirements of your environment. a similar formula is used: 0. it means they are hungry for something. Do NOT add fish emulsion to the bucket as it will grow algae and clog up your pipes! Each fish emulsion brand is different and there should be mixing instructions on the package for a foliar spray. This will add nitrogen and trace minerals and enhance the flavor of the strawberries greatly. and all the work is at waist-level so there is never any bending or kneeling to work on your garden. for most brands the instructions will direct you to add approximately 1 ounce of fish emulsion and 1 ounce of seaweed extract to 1 gallon of water and put mixture in a spray bottle (atomizer) and spray liberally three times a week. on the underside of the leaves as much as possible as the plants will absorb more from the bottom.
if nothing else. and the plants will start to dry out. make sure it is getting adequate water by pulling the 1/8" lines out of that 4" pipe and checking the flow visually. If it is not putting out a full flow. this will usually fix the clog by blowing it out the other end. Periodically you may need to change or clean the filter sock. And that's really all there is to it. and cut down the supply of water getting to that pipe. when they will last a good deal longer without problems). and add fertilizer whenever you add water. That is why you must use two lines for each pipe. Other fertilizers can be purchased from www.com/director. Also.weather. Seedling plants can be purchased reliably through too many online stores and catalogs to list. pull the 1/8" line out of the 1/2" tubing and end-for-end it and put it back in. They are available at any pet store and will help oxygenate the water. Unfortunately their website is a bit difficult to navigate currently. it is helpful to aerate the reservoir bucket by putting an aquarium pump with a stone bubbler on the end into the barrel. Magnesium Sulfate (also known as Epsom Salts) is available at most gardening stores or pharmacies. as well as in local nurseries. often they are old or of poor quality. if the power goes out. So if you notice one pipe wilting more than the others. particularly in hot weather. beyond that. fortunately the Perlite holds a great deal of water.com which also offers many other specialized hydroponic growing supplies. or cut it off completely.TerritorialSeed.htm which simplifies things somewhat. The only thing that you must bear in mind is that this is a constant flow system. but even so you should try to limit times without power to a few hours (except on cool. A source for good quality and exotic seeds of lettuce and other herbs and plants is Territorial Seeds at www. Occasionally if a small particle gels past the filter it may partially clog up the 1/8" tubing lines. add some water to the top of the pipes manually to keep them hydrated. dark days and at night. A direct link to a product index is www.hydro-gardens. all you have to do is pick it! CHAPTER 7: SUPPLIERS While many stores can supply seeds. These supplies may be available locally but are listed here as options. ll .com. water will stop running.Hydro-Gardens. to double up and give yourself a safety net.
is not responsible for the use or misuse of any information contained in this booklet or companion DVD or of accidents or injuries or damages caused by use or misuse of any items purchased from Pinnacle Switch Builders. Is this the only way this system can be made? Certainly not! This is just a basic idea. for example. and are not to be redistributed without express written consent. squash. such as a 30 gallon or 55 gallon drum partially buried in the ground. Inc. you could run 8 pipes off the manifold instead of 4 . CHAPTER 9: DISCLAIMER Pinnacle Switch Builders. The possibilities are endless. by burying your reservoir and putting your manifold at ground level and just making the pipes and frame longer to match. All plans. you can adapt this in many ways depending on what you want to grow. When working with electrical pumps underwater there is always a risk of shock so use caution. such as 6-8". Many other types of plants grow too large and won't fit in the pipes once they reach maturity (tomatoes.just add more "T"s. Do not drink fertilizer mixes or ingredients and keep out of reach of children and pets. how much of it you want.Inc. use your imagination. to grow those larger plants. and images presented here and in the accompanying DVD are the sole properly of Pinnacle Switch Builders. You could make these pipes run 8' long instead of 57". Inc. You could use a larger reservoir than the bucket.. Use all instructions at your own risk. 12 . so you wouldn't have to adjust the fertilizer and add water as often. you could make several of these vertical gardens and slave them all to a single pump by draining them all into the same bucket and running all the pump lines off of one (larger) pump. etc) and also don't grow well in the fertilizer mixes mentioned. Neither does cilantro. thus far it has not been attempted to my knowledge. instructions. spinach for example. doesn't grow well in the lettuce fertilizer mix. Also it is theoretically possible to use larger pipes. but some types of plants require their own fertilizer.CHAPTER 8: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS What can't I grow? Technically you can grow anything. 2008. Copyright © Pinnacle Switch Builders. and where you live. though of course there are other fertilizers available.
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