Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials

Picture of Materials

Picture of Materials

Since my system evolved over several growing seasons, I used stuff I already had. This instructable shows how I made mine, but since you are starting from scratch, I would recommend some changes (unstructable?):

    • Clear hoses are cool and useful to see if the system is working properly. However, sunlight + water + nutrients = algae. The algae hasn’t been troublesome, yet, but I thought you should be warned. If you use clear hoses like I did, you might want to cover them with an opaque material.
    • The horizontal hose is 1/4″ ID (inner diameter). The wick hoses are 3/8″ ID. If I were you, I would make all the hoses the same size as the wick hoses to simplify the connections. In my instructions, I will call for 3/8″ hoses even though the pics show 1/4″ hoses.

All of my materials were purchased off the shelf at my local home-improvement store which is not even that good. I recommend reading the entire instructable to understand how this fits together before purchasing any connectors.


    • 10-quart wastebasket/bucket (Umbra Garbino works great)
    • Lid or mulch to cover the dirt on top
    • 2″ length of 1″ diameter PVC (often available in lengths greater than 2″ at a discount)
    • 12″ length of 1-1/4″ diameter PVC pipe
    • End cap for the 1-1/4″ diameter PVC pipe
    • 10″ wick that can fit inside a 3/8″ ID hose (I used tiki torch wicks)
    • 6″ length of 3/8″ ID hose
    • (1) quick-connect male connector to connect the hose to the planter. THE WICK MUST BE ABLE TO FIT INSIDE (a barb-style connector will be a lot more difficult to use).
    • (1) quick-connect “Tee” connector to connect to the wick hose to the main horizontal line (unless this is the last planter on the end–then this should be an equivalent quick-connect elbow)
    • Small tomato plant (between 3″ and 8″ tall)
    • Good soil/compost mix (add some limestone to prevent blossom-end rot)
    • Some foam, gravel, or other material to raise the soil off the bottom of the planter


    • 4′ length of 4″ diameter PVC pipe
    • (2) 4″ diameter PVC female adapters
    • (2) 4″ diameter PVC male plugs
    • Quick-connect stop valve that connects to 3/8″ ID hose
    • Some trustworthy pipe hangers and chains or cable. The reservoir will be heavy and unmanageable when full.
    • A large cork (possibly from a large bottle of good tequila)


    • Elbow connector, barbed for 3/8″ ID on one end and threaded on the other
    • 8-10″ length of 3/8″ ID hose
    • Tiny piece of cork (smaller than 3/8″ but large enough to see)


  • Enough 3/8″ ID hose to reach from the reservoir to the furthest planter. Then get a few more feet so you can make mistakes. (hose is pretty cheap)
  • A few square inches of screen mesh to keep out mosquitoes
  • A rotary cutting tool to cut PVC and the wastebaskets/buckets
  • A fat soldering iron if you prefer to melt holes in plastic. I do. (ventilated area, blah blah blah)
  • Hot glue or sealant
  • PVC cement
  • Teflon ribbon for fixing hose connections and leaks
  • A ladder, step stool or long arms
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