Create Your Own Hydroponic Farm

By Susan Evans

In this column, Shanghai’s environmental experts from GoodtoChina share ideas on easy, at-home green initiatives. Read on to find out how you can learn to love life and live sustainably.

As part of our urban farming program at GoodToChina, we have made strides towards greener, more livable cities that can help provide food for the escalating urban populations by using a variety of innovative farming techniques, including hydroponic farming. Although the concept sounds new and contemporary, it has actually been around since Babylonian times.

Hydroponic farming has several important advantages in China’s urban environments, and we believe that it will be part of the future farming landscape. Whereas regular farming requires soil, which can be heavy and sometimes not suitable for rooftops or balconies, hydroponic farming requires just a minimum amount of water. It’s an efficient technique that keeps the water in the system and often uses a pump to circulate the water. Optimally, it’s a no waste system and, unlike traditional farming, there is no overuse of fertiliser and no pesticides used. Best of all if you have sun you can grow vegetables all year round!

To get started, buy a stick of bamboo with a minimum of seven centimetres inside diameter. The bamboo must be wide inside so the pump can fit inside the stick. Bamboo is a highly versatile material, as well as a renewable resource as it grows extremely fast and can be easily managed. Since it is grown locally, it does not require many transport miles to deliver it to Shanghai, keeping transport pollution low.

Here’s how to make your own bamboo hydroponic farm:





 Bamboo stick (with four segments)

 String or hemp rope


 Saw the bamboo stick into three cups about 30cm deep.

 Drill a hole in the centre bottom of two of the bamboo cups – make the hole just less that one cm in diameter.

 Drill a hole in each side of the bamboo cup so that you can thread the string through the holes. Tie the cups together  so that l they can be hung up in the window.

 Cut the thicker plastic pipe and push it into the centre hole of the bamboo cup, insert three cm of tube. Do this twice,  so that the two top bamboo cups have a plastic pipe in the centre.

 Attach the long pipe to the pump and insert it into the lower cup. Place the top end of this pipe into the top cup to  create the water circuit.

 Fill the two upper cups half full with ceramic balls.

 Add the seedlings to the two top cups and fill the lower cup with water.

If you want to try out different methods check out and also, our hydroponic development partners, for other ideas.

Susan Evans is the co-founder of GoodtoChina, a platform that aims to make sustainable living accessible, beneficial and desirable to everyday urban residents in China and to accelerate the move towards lower carbon society and sustainable living. Visit to discover how you can make an impact.

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