Because it's too hot here...
It's not just the heat, it's because it's a dry heat, and top it off with massive solar heat. It's too hot, too dry, and there is too much direct sunlight for too many hours a day to grow much of anything besides cactus and other local succulents outside.
In order to keep the inside of a place cool here you have to all but completely eliminate direct sunlight during the long brutal summers here. Average humidity here is about 6%. So you can grow indoors but then you have re-introduce light and moisture.
As much work as they were I miss the plants and flowers, particularly the Dahlias I used to grow back in Illinois. I miss walking out the back door and picking fresh herbs for an omelette, roast or pasta dish. Herbs cannot be grown outside here without a lot of sun screening and water. Little can be harvested in the peak of summer because the plant are just too stressed from the daily triple digit heat that starts in May and often lasts until October.
I tried the traditional pot and soil method to grow some herbs indoors but didn't really want deal with a lot of the issues that come with that method. The water here is just awful, high amounts of particulates and so heavily chlorinated that it smells like public swimming pool the Monday after a Labor Day weekend. You have to distill or otherwise filter the water here to grow decent herbs. Keeping up a rotation of water containers to distill with for several plants was just too much work and took up too much room.
I had always been interested in hydroponics but never took the plunge. After a fair amount of research, mainly watching YouTube videos, I began to form and idea that might work in a smaller living area. I was going to try just a simple tank and tube method.
For my reservoir I bought a $5 plastic trough planter, it hold about 3 gallons of water. I found an 24"x24" sheet of 1/8' thick black plastic in the replacement glass section to use as a cover for the reservoir. I also bought the lowest pressure water fountain/feature pump I could find at Lowes. It's adjustable from 50-85 GPM. The rest of the system was all gathered from the PVC plumbing section.
All in for this basic part of the system was about $50.
I knew that the very last thing I wanted was for this thing to leak. A pump pushing 50 GPM was going to be able to dump the 3-5 gallons this system could hold out on the floor in a matter of seconds. I did not want to risk even the smallest of leaks. I was originally going to use all PVC to create a much larger reservoir to house the entire system but couldn't find anything here that was reasonably priced. I ended up buying 4 - 4' sections of finished shelving material from Home Depot. Sure they are just particles board but they have a factory applied coating of a really durable paint that is effectively waterproof, as long as you don't scratch or otherwise break the surface of them. Using a pocket hole jig I created the box for the hydroponic system, siliconed all of the seams then lined the box with some 4mil plastic sheeting.
I originally built the frame for the lighting to be adjustable in height from just a few inches above the system to just over 5 feet. This really proved unworkable but also unnecessary. It eventually dawned on me that the roots plants over two to three feet tall would likely choke the system causing leakage and a serious system failure. It wasn't long before I decided to max the lighting height out at about 2.5 feet and use some heavy nylon chord to suspend the lighting. This also made adjusting the height much easier, and allowed me to slant the lighting if needed.
Check out the photos belowthen see how I've uprgaded the system since these were taken in the next section - Hydroponics 3.0.