Step 3: Physical Build and Planting
Everything is going on the shelf. If you’re using a wire frame shelf, it’s easy to set the heights optimally. Put the bottom shelf as low as possible for your bucket, set up the second shelf as low as possible while still leaving you room to access the bucket, so that the plants have as much room to grow as they can. Set the third shelf as high up as you can, giving you room to adjust your lights for optimal plant growth.
Fill the bucket with water, place on the bottom shelf.
Put your dirt in the planters, and introduce your plants to the new dirt.
Hang your lights however works best for the type of light. We just used some velcro straps to attach the cables to the wire frame shelf, but there are a ton of different styles of grow lights and fixtures, and there are a million ways to do it. Refer to the manual that came with your grow light for optimal positioning.
Plug your lights into the timer, and set your timer to a provide a reasonable amount of light for the plant. Ours are set to 12 hours on, 12 hours off, as that was suggested for the type of light and the tomatoes we’re growing.
Find a good spot to place your electronics, and start running your tubes to where you’re going to keep the pump. We used binder clips to hold the tubes where we wanted them, and they work phenomenally well. As far as positioning the pump, you should aim for putting it higher than the water reservoir and lower than the outlet tubes. This ensures proper operation of the pump. Position the end of the tubes near the base of the plant, allowing water to flow directly to the roots.
Now let’s wire everything and start programming our microcontroller!