Ebb and Flow Hydroponic System

A Few Benefits of Hydroponic Growing

There are many benefits to growing hydroponically.  First and foremost, it enables you to grow your own foods.  Not only does this allow you to control what chemicals are used on your growing plants (if any at all), but also what nutrients have been fed to them.  You know exactly where your food comes from and how it has been treated.

Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs hydroponically is also less expensive than if you were to purchase these foods at a store.  The fact that you are growing a plant year round, rather than having to purchase that same item at the store, let’s say, once a week…well, it’s just common sense that you are going to save money.

In addition, hydroponic growing is better for the environment because it helps conserve water.  Because water is re-circulated and re-used, it is not absorbed or leached into the ground.  It also eliminates groundwater contamination of any kind and is more earth-friendly.

The Ebb and Flow System

Let’s examine one of the most popular hydroponics systems: The Ebb and Flow System.  The Ebb and Flow system is an active recovery system, which can be defined as a system that uses a pump to circulate both air and the nutrient solution around the plant roots and then collects and recycles the solution.

This system, sometimes referred to as the Flood and Drain System, is a great system for beginners because after the initial construction, it is very easy to maintain and hard to mess up!

 In The Ebb and Flow System, a pump is used to circulate nutrient rich solution and oxygen rich air to where it is needed most—the roots of the plants.  The pump is usually connected to a timer, allowing it to automatically turn on several times a day, usually for 15-20 minutes at a time.

The nutrient solution will temporarily flood the grow tray and saturate the plants roots.  Once it reaches a certain level, an overflow tube will drain the nutrient rich water to keep from overflowing your container (much like a bathroom sink).  When the timer turns off, the pump shuts off and the excess solution drains back into the reservoir tray.

It is fairly easy to build an Ebb and Flow System.  All of these materials can be purchased at any hydroponics store and certainly online.  Following is a list of the materials needed:

  • Growing Tray
  • Reservoir
  • Water Pump
  • Timer
  • Plastic Tubing
  • Drains
  • Pots/Containers
  • Growing Medium

Tips for Success

Once the system is set-up, really all you need to worry about is keeping a steady level of nutrients in your water and making sure the timer is working correctly.  For example, if your electricity were to go out, you would need to re-set the timer.

Each type of plant will have different requirements, so once you’ve determined exactly what you’d like to grow, you can then figure out which kind of growing medium you need (grow rocks, gravel or granular rock wool, perlite, etc.) and which nutrients to use.

Some plants will require supplemental lighting, some will need higher temperatures, and the amount of times per day you will need to flood the growing tray will vary.

Do your research, and be sure to provide a welcoming and healthy environment for your plants.  Because they are growing indoors, you want to keep good air circulation and steady temperatures.  And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, learn from your mistakes, don’t be discouraged, and simply try again!