There are several different hydroponic systems each with their own pros and cons. Of all the systems available, it is probably the hydroponic ebb and flow system, otherwise known as the ‘flood and drain’ system that is the most popular.
With hydroponic ebb and flow systems, you use a pump in conjunction with a timer set at predetermined intervals to flood your grow tray for a period of time. Then, after a set period or after the solution has reached a set level, the nutrient solution will then ebb or drain away and back into the reservoir where it is either reused at the next cycle or replaced.
The beauty of the hydroponic ebb and flow system is its simplicity. Once you have it set up, the system runs itself, there is no need for you to do anything else!
How Do Hydroponic Ebb And Flow Systems Work?
1. You should first grow your seedlings or cuttings in small grow cubes, just enough to get some good roots showing.
2. Once you have some fairly long roots you can set the plants in their fixtures. Depending on what kind of hydroponic ebb and flow system you have this may vary somewhat. With some hydroponic ebb and flow systems you won’t require any grow medium as the plant trays are shaped specifically to house the plants. If you don’t have one of these systems then you’ll need some grow medium. Fast drying mediums are best for hydroponic ebb and flow systems such as vermiculite and rock wool. So simply set your plants in pots or grow nets with the roots exposed at the bottom.
3. The hydroponic ebb and flow system has a spout so you can easily pour in your nutrient solution without disturbing the plants. There is also a drain plug so you can change the solution easily too.
4. You will need to set the timer to operate the pump at specific times depending on what you’re growing. Plants which require lots of water such as hydroponic lettuce will need extra pump cycles over and above say strawberries. You can also set your timer to keep the pump cycle on for a longer period of time.
5. When the timer stipulates, the pump will flood the grow tray with nutrient solution for a set period of time. There is an overflow so you can’t drown your plants. When the cycle is finished, the solution will drain back into the reservoir.
6. It’s as simple as that. Once you have your hydroponic ebb and flow system all set up, the only thing you’ll need to do is keep an eye on any fruit or veg etc that you need to pick. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your nutrient levels and it’s always recommended you change your solution around every 14 days. You should also regularly check your pH levels to ensure it’s within a safe range.
Recommended Hydroponic Ebb And Flow Systems
The range of ebb and flow systems is extremely diverse as you can see! Since ebb and flow is one of the more widely used hydroponic systems, this is to be expected!
For beginners I would highly recommend you get an all-in-one system such as the Hydrofarm MGSYS Hydroponic Megagarden System. This comes highly recommended and includes everything you need to begin apart from solution and grow medium.
If you’re more advanced then there is no limit to where you can take ebb and flow systems. You can purchase multi-bucket systems that come with anywhere between two and a dozen hydroponic ebb and flow buckets. These buckets are all connected with pipes so you only have to drain or top up your solution the once.
If you’re so inclined, you can also make your own hydroponic ebb and flow system from bits and pieces from around the house. OK maybe you’ll need to purchase a few items, but this will enable you to fully customize your design. Watch this space for a tutorial on making your own hydroponics ebb and flow system.
Why not tell us about your own ebb and flow systems by leaving a comment below! If you have any questions about this article then please ask away!