So for this last part, what I used was these clay pellets.
Botanicare Pure Blend Pro grow (nutrient solution) and a General Hydroponics pH control kit. Those little blocks down there are rockwool. I tried to start some from seeds but didn't have much luck. I'll explain more later.
And then you're going to need little containers that will fit inside your bottles. I used a little fruit cup and then one of the cups that came with the plants I used. Drill holes in the bottom and sides so the roots/water can come out. Also, the fruit cup was a little wide so I made a cut down one side so that it would overlap and fit. If that makes sense. You can also buy "net cups" but I didn't want to and decided to just recycle something.
And most importantly, plants! These two are basil and oregano. Shake off as much excess dirt as you can and then try to rinse more of it off. Be careful of the roots though!!!
So first, you need to rinse your clay pellets.
Then, stick your plant in your little cup and fill with clay pellets. Make sure your plant is nice and supported.
Then, fill your bottle with a layer of clay pellets.
Stick your cup in just below the bottom of the hole and fill in with more clay pellets.
And you're done! All you have to do now is put water in it and turn your pump on!
About the water. Every other time I fill it up, I'll put a couple drops of the nutrient solution in the water and then test the pH and make sure it is balanced (just follow the directions on the control kit). I turn my pump on during the day and off at night. I make sure my blinds are open as much as possible too. Also, to water, you can pour it in at the top or just pour in one of the plant holes (I do the latter). Just make sure you don't overflow it! I find the pump works better when the water reservoir is more than halfway full.
Ok, so tips on keeping your plants alive! I tried to start some from seeds but didn't have much luck. 1. because I just have a hard time keeping seedlings alive (I forget to water them or eliza knocks them over or something) and 2. when you plant them into your hydroponic system, they need to be large enough so that they're not sitting directly under the stream of water coming from above. They do NOT like this. This may be a drawback of this type of system but you can just make sure you put plants in that are large enough to kind of stick out. Also, I may have been putting too much nutrient in them the first go around which will eat up the roots. So don't do that.
Also, when you first plant them, make sure to water them a lot. Mine are now a few months old and I can get away with watering them only once every 3 days. Not that I do that but if I go on vacation (like Las Vegas) they won't keel over and die if I don't get to turn the pump on every day.
I'll probably try again with the seedlings and let you know how that goes. But I'm pretty satisfied with this little project! Having fresh herbs at hand is so nice.
If you guys have any questions about this, feel free to email me at email@example.com. It can be a little confusing (trust me, I know!) so I'm here for the help if you need it.