Design plans for a Mittleider Hydroponics Grow Box


The Mittleider hydroponics grow box, originally designed as a means of growing crops in poor soil, combines qualities of both soil gardening and hydroponics.

Designed by Jacob Mittleider, one of the most famous applications was the Bengal System, invented by James Sholto Douglas, designed to offer an inexpensive way to grow vegetables in in the Bengal region of India.

Mittleider greenhouse This is a picture of my portable greenhouse showing 2 grow boxes to the right side in the greenhouse. These appear to be normal soil gardens but they are actually an experiment based on the Mittleider hydroponics grow box.

This picture was taken early in the season in 2005 and the tomato plants that you see (Big Boy and Beefsteak) eventually grew to the top of the greenhouse measuring somewhere around 12 to 14 feet. The tomato yield was only average but I still consider the experiment a huge success!

To build this I constructed 6 feet by 3 feet grow boxes out of pine, untreated boards 7.5 inches by 3/4 inch. These boxes only have sides and no bottom. After cutting them to size I screwed in 3 galvanized 1.5 inch wood deck screws into each end of the long board screwed into the short board using my trusty cordless drill.

That was it for construction. I placed them on the ground in the place I wanted them and dug down inside the boxes into the ground an inch or so.

I collected small rocks no larger than an inch in diameter and filled the grow boxes up to 2 inches from the top - luckily I had a small pile of stones on hand from previous driveway work to use. On top of the stones I poured in an equal mixture of dirt, sand and peat moss with the idea that watering would eventually bring the dirt and the fertilizer I would later apply further and further down toward the plant roots.

Then I planted my tomato plants, 5 to a box and covered the growing medium in the box with wood chips to help keep the medium from drying out too quickly.

During the season I mostly watered the plants with hydroponics nutrient solution and occasionally put small amounts of commercial garden fertilizer around the base of the plants.

If you are thinking of an organic design, the Mittleider method is perfect for a totally organic hydroponics garden. Click on the organic Mittleider design for more information.

I recommend you give this method a try and you may be pleasantly surprised...

Visit Different Kinds of Plants to learn how to successfully grow your favorite gardening plants even if you never grew anything before today.

Get advice on making an Organic Vegetable Garden in the San Juan Islands Washington, up in the Northwest.

Comments about this method?

The Mittleider System is simple and intuitive. Have you tried it? Are you thinking of making one? Let us know...

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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water/nutrient usage? 

How much water or solution should be added daily per cubic foot of garden space? i.e. in a 16" x 2' Mittleider garden, how much water/nutrient should …

Hydroponics Training 
I need practical training about hydroponics.can u give me any contact no for me.

My email is

Above the ground boxes 
I'm getting on in years (62) and want to use the grow box principles but want to build three boxes, each with a 4x8 plywood base and side boards of 8-10 …

Where to find sand? 
We are novice gardeners and excited about trying your system. We are creating the 75% sawdust/25% sand soil mixture. You state the sand has to be fine, …

Growing Medium for the Year Not rated yet
For a growing medium I have always preferred a combination of perlite and vermiculite held down with a minimum of sand for a Mittleider grow box, but this …

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