How to Grow a Sustainable Crop of Healthy Food Indoors

Interest in urban farming has soared in recent years. A lot of the attention, rightfully, seems to be coming from folks curious about the “prepper” lifestyle. Others are attracted to the idea of off-the-grid living and building their own tiny homestead farm.

But whatever brought you to this article, one fact is indisputable…

Being able to grow a sustainable crop of healthy food is Know-How every man should have.

In 1960, more than 30% of the population lived in a rural setting. Today, that percentage has fallen into the teens. Modern men have no idea how to raise their own chickens or tend to crops. Instead…

We rely on big-box retailers to provide nourishment for our families…

We eat mass-produced, hormone-injected meats…

We consume fruits and vegetables coated in harmful chemicals

And we accept that, in the process, our nation’s food suppliers are eroding the actual health benefits of our crops.

A team of Texas scientists confirmed as much when it set out to determine if modern crops contain the same vitamins and nutrients they did in the 1950s. The news was not good.

Here’s what they found:

  • Calcium levels have fallen 27%.
  • Vitamin A levels are down 21%.
  • Vitamin C levels are down 30%.

No doubt, modern farming practices are to blame. And with the government now prepping for a terrorist attack on our food supply (one senator warns it would “cause irreparable damage”), we say enough is enough.

It’s time to take action.

Whether you’re interested in urban farming as a hobby or taking a deep dive into the homesteading/off-the-grid lifestyle, it’s imperative that you know how to grow your own healthy food.

And with the simple (and cheap) DIY hydroponic system we lay out below, you can do exactly that…

THE ULTIMATE URBAN FARMING SETUP

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, hydroponic farming is a way to grow plants without soil. As the “hydro” in the name suggests, this is most often done in water.

The advantages of hydroponic farming over traditional farming are numerous. For one thing, you can grow anywhere: indoors, outdoors… even vertically. Because of this, hydroponic gardens yield more crops in less space. Even better, those crops require only 10% of the water soaked up by field-grown plants.

There are lots of ways to get into the world of hydroponic farming. But we consider our setup the ultimate “starter kit” because it A) is cheap, B) is easy to assemble and C) works.

With tools and materials in hand, you should be up and running in less than an hour’s time.

But before we get into specifics, an important note about lighting…

Three Lighting Options (And Our Personal Favorite)

When it comes to lighting, you have several choices. Some serious growers prefer high-intensity discharge (HID) grow lights, which use lots of electricity and generate a ton of heat. (The upside is that HIDs are powerful enough to grow a full range of produce, from leafy greens to hearty vegetables.) Or you could go with fluorescent lighting, which is cheaper to run but sufficient only if you’re growing lettuce or herbs.

In our view, LED is the way to go. You’ll pay more initially (approximately $100-$150), but an LED grow lamp can provide adequate lighting to support everything from baby spinach to watermelon. Plus, LED bulbs are far gentler on your energy bill. The trick is to buy a grow lamp that contains both red and blue bulbs, like the one pictured here. That way you can plant virtually any crop you want.

You should be able to find all three of these options at your local hardware store or garden center. And when all else fails, there’s always Amazon.

Once you’ve secured your lighting rig – easily the most expensive part of the whole operation – you can get to building the main part of our hydroponic farming system.

And if you’re thrifty, the rest of the materials should cost you less than 10 bucks.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Aquarium bubbler/air pump
  • Aquarium tubing (should come with bubbler)
  • Net cups
  • Rockwool cubes (aka “starter plugs”)
  • And a 1-gallon (or larger) plastic pail with lid.

You’ll also need a drill and an appropriately sized bit to make holes in the pail lid. The exact size will depend on the width of the net cups you’ll be using (and what you’re growing). For our purposes, we’re going to assume you’re using 2-inch net cups and, thus, a 2-inch hole saw bit.

To get started, make evenly spaced 2-inch holes in the pail lid, along with one smaller hole for the aquarium tubing to feed through.

With holes made (and debris cleared), you’ll want to set your bubbler in the pail. Run the tubing up the side of the pail and out the small hole you made. This will allow for aeration, which is vital to healthy nutrient circulation. (As an added bonus, aeration in a hydroponic system helps your seedlings grow much faster than if they were planted in soil.)

Next, fill the pail with water. The water should be practically touching the lid (you’ll see why in a moment).

With that all done, it’s time to focus on your actual plants…

First things first: Soak the rockwool cubes – one for each 2-inch hole you drilled – in water for at least one hour.

Rockwool: What It Is and Where to Find It

Rockwool cubes – also known as stonewool cubes or grow blocks – are composed of spun-together mineral fibers. They’re great for sucking up water, air and important nutrients, which are then pulled into your plant’s roots.

Garden centers and online retailers sell rockwool cubes by the sheet. As of this writing, you can buy a sheet of 200 cubes on Amazon for less than $0.10 per cube.


Once your rockwool is good and soaked, it’s time to add your seeds. Push a couple into the center of each cube. Then set the cubes into the net cups.

Place the net cups into the 2-inch holes you drilled in the pail lid, like so…

Now plug in your bubbler, set the entire system underneath the lighting rig you picked out and boom… there you have it. You’ve just built your own indoor hydroponic garden.

Depending on the types of plants you start with, seedlings should emerge within a matter of days. You’ll be harvesting your first crop of organic, healthy food in just a few weeks’ time.

It’s the perfect urban farming setup for folks who want to be prepared but lack the outdoor space to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.

And even if you have room on your property for an ample-sized garden, growing food indoors can give you some added peace of mind.

As we said at the top, no one knows when we’ll experience a terrorist attack on our nation’s food supply… but we know something is in the works.

This is just one way to protect your family… and ensure your survival.

Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to assemble our system. And Like us on Facebook to be notified when we release future tutorials.

For more DIY tips and strategies, check out the Know-How section of our site. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our popular e-letter.

A FEW IMPORTANT NOTES/CAVEATS

  • Certain plants are more finicky than others. In some cases, you may need to closely monitor the temperature and pH levels of the water you use.
  • Make sure you clean the pail, bubbler, tubing and net cups before you get started. Remember, you’re going to eventually eat what you grow.
  • Keep the area surrounding your hydroponic system clean as well. Unwatched crops can attract pests, just like they would at a regular farm.

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