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The Rain Tower Vertical Hydroponic System

 
 
 

The Rain Tower Vertical Hydroponic System

Vertical Hydroponic System

I was looking for a way to grow vertical using hydroponics and after seeing some larger and expensive aeroponic units I came up with what I call the rain tower.  I used a 5 gallon bucket and lid from the local hydroponics store.  The main tower is 5" x 5" PVC fence post and there is 3" PVC pipe that holds the net pots diagonally into the tower,  The pump is an ECO 264 pump on a timer that turns on every 15 minutes and runs for 15 minutes.  The most difficult part of this whole unit was getting the right shape for the net pot holes in the tower.  I created templates and a video with step by step directions which are now added lower in this article.

Below is a video I made explaining how it works with results of my first test run growing hydroponic lettuce.

 

How To Build The Rain Tower:

 

Items You Need to Buy for this Project

Tools Needed for this Project:

  • Miter saw
  • Tape measure
  • ruler
  • Drill
  • Various drill bits : 
    • 1/2" for cut out pilot hole and also for Tee barb,
    • 5/32" hole for hinges
    • 1/8" holes for water tray
  • Jig saw with fine blade
  • Soldering iron
  • 2 clamps
  • Exact-o knife
  • File

Things to Gather that Will Make the Job Easier:

  • Pencil
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • White out
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Paper or plastic plate or piece of cardboard for mixing epoxy
  • Plastic knife for applying epoxy

PDF Templates to  Download for this Project:

The video below should explain everything but I will be adding to this page over the next few days with even more information to make it as complete as possible.  I have since updated the construction so watch the video just underneath this one last.

 

 

 

UPDATED CONSTRUCTION VIDEO AND TIPS!

 

In the update video I reviewed Ocean Solution Fertilizer which you can purchase on their website at a discount if you use the coupon code "tomorrowsgarden" at checkout.

 

Visit OceanSolution Now

 


Below I will be sharing videos and photos of systems that other people made from the Rain Tower System.

 

This version by Gina Ragan over on YouTube is doing fantastic!  She has built 4 of the towers and really have them all producing loads of veggies.  This is the first video I have seen where somebody has them going in full production.  MUST SEE!

 

 

Here's an update video for Gina's towers:

 

 


This version was made by Dax from The Daily Paul.  This is the first aquaponic version of The Rain Tower.  He made it very fast....within 10 days or so of the original rain tower video.


Mike Walker on Youtube created this version of The Rain Tower which is 6 feet tall and has even more openings for net pots.  I also think the top is a neat touch.  Here are two of his video posts to give you and idea of what he did.  Very cool.

Mike made a new video on improvements he made and shows what he did to change the way the nutrients disperse.

Below is Mike's "how to" video with all the mods he's added.  He's continually working on the concept and has a video where he used a cooler as a resivour if you check out his YouTube channel.

Mike shows an update here in this next video to show how well his spinach and lettuce are growing in the tower.

 

 

Mike also came up with a way to keep the tower's reservoir cold in the hot summer months.  Check out the video below.

 

Mike just did an update showing how well his basil is doing in the tower.  It looks great! Video Below.

 


Here is a version by Matt Wilson on YouTube.  It has a different container on the bottom.


Here is a dual tower version by James V on YouTube.  He put a more detailed description in the forum on this website.  Here is the link to if if you'd like to read more: http://www.tomorrowsgarden.net/content/my-version-vertical-rain-tower


HydroponicsIsCool from YouTube built this version.  He didn't follow up with results but said on his blog that everything died.  He left the pump run without a timer and it was on all the time.  It could be that or the nutrient levels.


George Wilson over on Facebook just completed his rain tower.  This one looks really nice and I know it'll do well.

George posted this modification video to his YouTube channel.  He modified the top of the tower to eliminate the use of hinges which looks like it it more durable, a little deeper well at the top, and will keep out outside elements.

 

 


Terrence Fradet sent me a photo in my email of his aquaponic version of the tower.  Looks great!

Aquaponic Rain Tower


I stumbled on this version on YouTube by rcnacura.  He's making a dual tower system and has 1 tower built and running. 

 


This smaller dual tower was sent to me by Alvin W.  He also built a CFL grow light from the growlight page and I have picture of his creation there.

Small Dual Rain Tower Hydroponic System

Comments

I am new to all of this and I am wondering what kind of lighting would be used with this? I would be growing indoors with minimal light 

SleestaksRule's picture

I used a 400 watt metal halide to grow the lettuce but I think if you used regular T8 fixtures with 2 bulbs in each on every side vertical that would work for lettuce or other greens.  Just be sure to get 6500K T8 tubes for growth.  The fixtures are about $10 each at Walmart.  I'm trying the tower outdoors right now where the sunlight is free.

How are you controlling the water temp outdoors?  I want to do one of these outdoors and was planning on putting the bucket in the ground. 

SleestaksRule's picture

A white bucket and lid with an opaque inside would be great but there is no such product.  I was thinking of making a skirt of white tyvek to reflect the heat.  The temps are still cool here in Illinois for the time being but they jump suddenly.  There are at least 15 people experimenting with this and improving it so we shall see trials and failures in the coming months.

 

I would think that a design like this would have issues with vertical stability.  I know most plants don't weigh much, I would just be a bit concerned that the dog or one of the kids would knock it over.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

SleestaksRule's picture

When we first designed this, we thought we were going to have to build a brace at the bottom of the post to keep it from moving around, however it was completely unnecessary.  Not only is the post very secure without any additional bracing but the entire tower is bottom heavy making it difficult to tip over.  The 30 - 35 lbs of water in the reservoir is pretty heavy and keeps it upright automatically.  Because other people might also wonder about this, I think I'll make a video and put it up next week to show how stable it is.

Just finished building two of these babies.

I partially buried the buckets (90%) hoping that it's going to help for the water temperature.

But it definitely looks better cause those 5 gallon buckets are ugly.

Here's a pic :

Vertical Hydroponic Rain Towers

http://i40.tinypic.com/2150i9e.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

SleestaksRule's picture

Nice work.  I went head and embedded the image.  Somebody mentioned burying buckets to keep them cool.  I think it may have been Mike Walker.  I know he built one using an old cooler to control the temperature.

What are you growing?

well for now, mostly Kale, lettuce, green peppers, cucumbers, basil and mint...

kinda late in the season, maybe 1.5 months before temperature drops, so don't know what/how much  I'll be able to harvest.

Hoping that the "boss" (gf) will let me take one inside for the fall/winter :D

WhittakerJ's picture

All,

I'm getting ready to build one of these Aero gardens.  Everything seems to make sense to me except the process of mixing the water.  What I've concluded so far is to use RO water and the correct measurements for the Maxigrow.  I keep reading on the forums people talking about PPM and PH levels.  Is there a simple getting started guide that explains what types of measurement tools and how I can make sure I have the perfect water?  I have never used a PH meter or have any idea which is a good one or what I should buy to measure this and the PPM.

SleestaksRule's picture

For a PPM Meter I use this:  TDS METER

For a PH Meter I use this: PH METER

For the water...Just get a 5 gallon bucket and run an aquarium pump with an air stone for 24 hours to get rid of the chlorine and your good to go.

Here's a chart of PH and PPM for different veggies: http://www.tomorrowsgarden.net/node/11

 

Just joined the site and love the look of the rain towers. I also just started in with indoor hydro growing, Have a 2x4ft ebb and flow system up and going, but love the space saving idea of vertical.

I do not have all the tools (specifically saws) that you used to build the tower. In your opinion would it just be easier and cheaper to buy and use some sort of stackable pots/baskets (not even sure if anything like that is available) to come up with something similar?

Thanks.

Hi SleestaksRule, I love your tower!  Thank you for making your idea available to the world.  Do you happen to know if the type of vinyl in the fence post is a food-safe type?  I would love to make one, but have that concern.  Thank you.

Angie J

SleestaksRule's picture

I called the post manufacturer a few months ago and they said it was totally safe PVC 4 LDPA.  They make the posts for Home Depot and Lowes.  You can call them at 1-800-336-2383.

The 3" pipe used is Schedule 40 PVC which is food safe.

Thank you!

Angie J

I was seriously searching for a better way to grow up my rain tower vertically upwards and it is only form you that I came to learn about the same in a very detailed manner. I will <a href="http://www.microneedleskins.com">microneedle skin care system</a>​defnilty try this

Has anyone found a way to grow tomatoes or squash using this type of system?

SleestaksRule's picture

You could probably do small tomato plants like tiny tim or red robin at the bottom of the tower.  Squash would probably vine out and send roots into the ground around the tower.

I have Better Boy Tomato, Bell Peppers, Hot Banana Peppers, and Strawberries in my tower.  I plan to put a cage around it soon (2"x4" garden wire) Shouldn't be any problems.  But I guess I'll find out soon if I am wrong... as the tomato plants are blooming... so fruit will be forming soon.  :)

SleestaksRule's picture

Now it's plants vs. gravity!  Please post what happens.

What's a good watering schedule for the rain tower? I'm currently running 15 mins on/off, but I'm wondering if this is too much. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks! 

SleestaksRule's picture

I bet you could get away with every 30 minutes running 15 minutes at a time.  I never tried it but seems like it would work.

FWIW... I am running a 30w fountain pump. (396gph).. it runs 24hrs/7days (No timer). Everything is growing like it is possessed. LOL. 30watts over the course of an entire year was less than $20 increase on power bill. (Less than $2/month ).

Hi There, 

Thanks for the great site! I bought a towergarden this year with the purpose of reverse engineering it so that I can build several and place them in a greenhouse for year round produce. I wish that I would have found your site first, but I am looking forward to trying it and also perhaps putting in some of my own modifications. 

I see the argument between the TG people and the manufacturer of the fence posts whether it leaches toxic chemicals or not. I was thinking that the best way to settle it would be to run a simple experiment. Let water stay in a post for a month and then test it. However, I'm not sure what tests would be needed or if it could be done at home or if it would have to be sent into a lab. 

SleestaksRule's picture

I'll look into getting water tested (as long as it's cheap) .  I'm actually editing a new tower video right now.  It's just tips and extra information that I didn't have in the first videos.  I show the modified net cup holder and how to cut them as well as nutrients that I'm using.  I should have it posted Tuesday morning.

Hi,

 

Has anyone had any luck finding this part in Ontario?  I'm starting to think I'll have to cross into the US to pick some up - having terrible luck so far.  Thanks!

Just getting ready to build a rain tower to grow some vegetables indoors this winter. What do I start the seeds in? Soil or another medium? Thanks!

 

SleestaksRule's picture

I get them from Amazon usually: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002IU8UW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=17...

Just soak them, put the seeds in (maybe 2 per cube depending on how old the seeds are).  I keep the cubes in an ice cream bucket with plastic on top or any clear container from the bakery department at the grocery store (Keep it moist).  When the roots pop out of the sides of the rockwool then your ready to put them in the tower.

Can I buy a 4" x 6' vinyl fence post instead of 5" x 8'? If yes, would I have to change anything in the instructions? Is there any downside to this size approach?

SleestaksRule's picture

I'm not sure.  The tower would be a bit less stable since the bottom of the post would be smaller.

O wow! You did a great experiment!
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