With the holiday season ending as January comes to a close the seasonal influx of styrofoam boxes to our country ends as well. As discussed in a previous post the importation of grapes from California, the United States starts around the beginning of ber months late-August. This reaches its peak late December as evidenced by the number of social media posts of discarded styrofoam boxes that made rounds in social media and mainstream media as the new year starts. A number of enterprising and environmentally conscious SNAP hydroponics growers tried their best to make the most of the abundance of styrofoam boxes.
There will be a scarcity of standard sized styrofoam boxes in the following months. And many are asking about alternatives to styrofoam. In this post we’ll discuss possible alternatives and what properties to look for when considering alternatives.
Ideas for Building the Ideal Growbox for SNAP
We will be looking for a readily available alternatives to styrofoam boxes that is used in the default SNAP Hydroponics setup. The recommended SNAP setup is a passive system. The nutsol is kept in the lower half of the styrofoam boxes. Water is prevented from escaping through the boxes ventilation wholes via a plastic lining that is installed in the lower half. Our alternative box or container must be able to hold water. If it cannot, a plastic sheet can be used to line the container to enable the container to hold water.
We will be working on the discarded crate pictured above. It’s a broken milk crate that has a volume of around 30L.
After cleaning off the mud of our crate, we mend it to restore (a little bit) of its structural integrity using zip ties.
The styrofoam growbox, being opaque, protects the nutrient solution from light. The nutrient solution needs protection from light to prevent algae from growing on the nutrient solution. Excessive algae growth will take away nutrients from your plants or retard the growth of the roots.
Since our crate lets light through, we need to line the crate with an opaque material blocks light and also minimises heat transfer. We need an insulator.
The styrofoam growbox is an ideal insulator which is why it works great in the SNAP Hydroponics system. It’s cheap, it’s abundant , it’s easy to work with and is a great insulator. Most containers can be modified to provide the same level of insulation as styrofoam.
To protect our nutsol from light and heat in our grow create we will be using a discarded packing material that has an opaque plastic layer, a bubble wrap layer, and a layer of insulating foam.
We still need the crate to hold the nutrient solution. So we add a plastic liner. We use a 40⨉40 PE plastic bag.
Next we need to replace the upper half of the styrofoam growbox. The upper half’s purpose is to hold the seedling plugs in place and of course protect the nutsol from light and heat. For our crate we use a piece of styrofoam panel that was used in a previous project.
Setting Up our “Grow Crate’
We find an area with sufficient sunlight for our crate and make sure it’s level. We fill it up with enough nutsol:
We add our cover and seedling plugs:
We make sure the nutrient solution reaches the bottom of our seedling plug.
We then drop in our seedling. In this case a cucumber seedling germinated in a rockwool cube.
Then we let it grow:
That’s it! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment. Good luck and happy growing!