SOU’Garden: The Zero-Gravity Garden Wheel
Advisor: Steve Alexander
The SOU’garden is an example of a hydroponic, or soil-less, garden. Using Rockwool cubes as the rooting site, the plant will have to bud before its cube can be placed into the wheel. Once the bud reaches the proper height, the cubes are placed into their slots in the wheel. There are twenty slats on the wheel, each slat having four slots that are one inch apart, allowing space for the plant to grow out of its cube. The wheel is programmed to rotate on a schedule using a speed adjustable step-motor attached to a high friction rubber wheel on one side of the wheel. The smaller wheel’s high friction surface is in direct contact with the wooden plant wheel, so when the motor rotates the smaller wheel, it causes the entire system to rotate. It is imperative for the system’s rotation speed to stay relatively constant so that the bottom of each cube will be evenly soaked in nutrients as the wheel rotates through the watering trough. Exposure to these nutrients is necessary for the plants to grow normally since they are not getting these nutrients from soil. Other necessities are provided through the color-adjusted LED light on the wheel axis, providing the plants with artificial sunlight. The system relies on electricity to run, as the motor and light need to be plugged in. Other than this, and needing the trough refilled every week, the system itself is self-sustaining and requires little attention to work properly. In the future, it would be ideal to use a system like this in areas where space is limited for planting large amounts of plants, such as an urban apartment, or places where soil is not quite fertile enough to properly grow plants.