Growing your own herbs and small plants indoors is an emerging trend, thanks to the genius of some very creative recyclers. With more and more old PC Boxes gracing our landfills, some have found a way to use these boxes to create a healthy and clean indoor growing environment. If you have room for an old PC case, you have room for your little garden. Using no dirt, the plants grow using hydroponics: a water growing system where the grower controls the environment. This is advantageous for those with little room to garden and for those who want to hasten the growth process.
Unscrew the sides of the PC case, removing the original computer parts from the frame. If the computer was still functional before conversion, the existing wiring and fan can be used for the new grow box. Everything else, including shelves, needs to be removed. Using a screwdriver, unscrew each piece and discard properly. Metal cutters may be needed to remove some of the hardware and metal work. The resulting box will consist of a rectangular metal unit with two side panels, which should be unattached at this point. Wiring and fan should be intact also if they are usable pieces.
Ventilate your grow box. This simply consists of pumping air in and out of your unit. If you used your original fan, you already have air pumping in. There are three options to getting the air out. The first option is to get a second computer fan and install it below the original fan facing out. To do this you will need to cut a hole in the metal frame where the fan will go. Another option is to cut an area two inches wide near the bottom of the same side the original fan blows to ventilate the box. The most expensive option is to purchase an air pump, which blows air directly into the hydroponic system. Some consumer model growth boxes boast larger fans on the removable sides. Adequate air flow into and out from your box, however you accomplish it, is essential for a healthy plant.
Adhere reflective material to the inside of your box on all sides, leaving room only for ventilation and fans. A car windshield reflector works nicely as your reflective material. Other items, such as tinfoil also work. The top can be left open for a couple of inches in the middle to allow a more secure place to fasten your power strip. Carefully measure your material before gluing. Using glue stick and hot glue gun, thoroughly glue the reflective material to the stationary and removable insides of your box.
Install lighting system by gluing power strip to top inside panel, then plugging in your socket adaptors. Screw in your fluorescent bulbs and your lighting system is done. Test to insure you have power to fans and lights at the same time. Ideally you may wish to turn the whole unit on and off with one switch. Some people use a remote control for this purpose, but it can be as simple as turning on and off your power strip.
Set up your hydroponic system (See Resources below). These can be purchased or you can make a simple one with a plastic tub and small containers for your aerator stones and seeds.
Take extra precaution when growing in water. Electricity and water do not mix!
Tips and warnings
- Take extra precaution when growing in water. Electricity and water do not mix!