This hydroponic seed starting system is a very affordable, easy to make, alternative to the air stone (DWC – Deep Water Culture) type AeroGardens.

I made this using a 5 gallon Commander XXL tote from Lowes, some 1-inch net cups, air pump, air stones, and a grow light. It was very quick and easy to put together and can be reused for many other projects. I set this up for 18 grow sites, but I could have gotten more if I wanted.

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Parts showed (or equivalent) in the video:

Commander XL 5 gallon tote –
Air pump –
Air stones –
Sansi 30 watt grow light –
Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 –
Air tubing –
1-inch net cups –
AeroGarden sponges –
Rapid Rooter (cut these in quarters the long way) –
1-inch bit –
1-inch PVC pipe – get at Lowes
1-inch PVC tee – get at Lowes
Video Rating: / 5

We did our final weigh in on our lettuce. Here we show both under LED lighting and without LED lighting. We are very happy with the results! The lights that we did this trial with were from LED SOLUTIONS. They don’t have a website up as of yet, but you can contact them Directly through email or phone which I will leave here at the bottom of the description. The lights through LED SOLUTIONS covered a larger area per light (10′ x 10′) than the others through AMAZON which covered approx.( 3′ x 3′), Here is the contact information:
(cell) 705-358-9925

links to AMAZON lights as follows:

How to make a hydroponic seed starting system cheap and easy

About The Author


  • Jim Krajick

    Had a question about this method Peter. What about temperature control when doing this? Don’t you still want to be @ a higher temp?

  • Jim Kingman

    Love this system Peter. I really like the tip about cutting out the bottom. I was thinking during the video it would be hard to get the plants out for transplant. Thank you for sharing this project.

  • Jesse Kramasz

    also, I 2nd what BD suggested. If you cut the bottoms off the cups you might not need to cut the AG sponges. Worth a try anyway.

  • Matt Garver

    Great tutorial, pace, and details, this DIY seems like a great way to get seeds started for spring time. Nice to see both lessons on what and what not to do. In the off-season, this would make a nice herb garden too.

  • UnsulliedSpy

    Thanks for the video! I'm looking forward to watching these grow and the re-planting process to another bucket. I've got a ton of different pepper seeds and I think I've gotten in over my head as far as once they start maturing, I'm curious to see how you keep them and manage space indoors.

    Are those stink bugs around 9:25 there to help with the plants or just bugs in the basement?

  • Matt

    Heck yea! DIY for the win. Always though about doing this exact thing, except with container thats little bit shorter so it can be moved around easier. other wise your version would be perfect.

  • Rodolph Farah

    My calculations according to your results were:
    Harvesting 40 trays per week

    5 weeks = 200 trays

    LED cost – 15 $ per week

    Yield x 1.2

    75 $ per cycle

    200 trays x 1.2 pounds = 240 pounds per cycle

    240 x 10$ = 2400$ per cycle

    2400 – 75 = 2325$ additional income

    Energy cost is 3.12%
    from the income
    How about testing double and triple light PAR?

    I believe this trial must be done next winter, don't you agree with me?


    Nice job….!!!
    One questions, plz answer me…
    "" How much Litter water soluble nutrients for growing one lettuce…..???

  • Bear White

    results look great but what is the cost of running these lights. might grow them faster and bigger but if the cost of running the lights are to much it could make you loose money.

  • Jack Ruckus

    Wayne & Patti.. Have you ever investigated structured water.. It is simply water that passes through a magnetic field.. Scientific studies claim that plants will increase growth and production by 25 %. People have used it for years to alter the molecular structure of water as a replacement for a salt conditioner. Very simply done with several bovine magnets taped around your water pipe.

  • Jack Ruckus

    I really enjoy tyour hydroponic videos.. very professional and interesting. I would like more information on the ingredients you use for your lettuce. I have little knowledge about the dry. Don't care to pay the cost of liquids.

  • vik7247

    can i have a whatsapp number for you guys? i love your farm and i need advice am from Guyana South America and i been doing hydroponics 4yrs now and never had my garden looking like yours. you can email me on thanks

  • Friendly sky

    The value of higher power LED depends on the cost per kWh but you could greatly increase your production from where you are..

  • Melvin Jongen

    Hello im from holland and iv got a question where do you get the white plates where you put the plants in the plant holders ? Whats the name for it and where do you get it

  • Felix Oertel

    Thanks for your videos. Helps a bunch.

    You should definately try out 6500k led shoplights from the hardware store. In Germany they are just like 7 Bucks for 20W covering 120*30 (guess that is 4 by 1 foot?) and our lettuce totally loves it.

    greetings from Germany

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