Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, but rather a nutrient solution, which provides the plants with all its needs. Hydroponics also guarantee the quality of your harvest.
The nutrients provided for the plants can come from a variety of sources, which we’ll cover in more detail throughout this article. We’ll also look into one of the six types of hydroponic systems; namely ebb and flow hydroponics.
Ebb and flow hydroponics are some of the most common and popular hydroponics systems, because they are: reliable, easy to install, and extremely versatile (can be used for most types of plants)
What Is the Structure of Ebb and Flow Hydroponics?
An ebb and flow system consists of a Grow-tray, and reservoir which controls the rate of flow of nutrients into the tray. The reservoir contains a water pump with a timer, as well as a drain tube to ensure that the grow tray is not over-flooded.
What Mechanism Does the System Use?
Ebb and flow hydroponics use a basic system of flooding and draining. This system utilizes gravity to return the water to the reservoir for recycling, and the timer controls the amount of time it takes for the tray to fill.
The first step in the system is for the grow tray to be flooded to a certain level, which is when the drain tube allows water to return to the reservoir. The pump is set to specific intervals, permitting the water to flow back up to the tray, and the process is repeated.
Where Do The Nutrients Come From?
You can purchase nutrient solutions from most fertilizer stores.
The sources of these nutrients are very different, sometimes coming from fish excrement or duck manure, but are mostly synthetically manufactured.
The most common types of nutrients are Hoagland solution, Steiner, and Bollard, but your shop assistant will guide you towards the best one for your specific plant type.
Does The Grow Tray Need A Medium?
Grow mediums are used to retain moisture in the grow tray while draining excess water well. Mediums ensure that the plants consistently receive their needs for extended periods, and can be purchased from your local gardening store, and the best types are those that have good air to water retention level.
Most experts recommend using expanded clay pebbles with Ebb and Flow systems due to the fact that they are light-weight and reusable, so they hold well as the grow trays begin to flood.
Some types of Grow mediums are Lava Rock/ hydroton or Perlite mix.
What Are The Benefits Of This System?
What Are The Disadvantages of Ebb and Flow Systems?
How Can I Set Up The System?
Can I Build My Own System?
If you have experience with DIY, you can absolutely build your own system. You will need a number of extra components for this such as:
What Else Should I Know About This System?
How and Why Do I Clean My System?
Harmless algae often grows on the surfaces of Hydroponics systems because of the constant movement of water, and especially if you grow more than one type of plant in the same grow tray.
Lack of cleaning leads to the growth of mold and can attract insects, which could ruin your harvest.
To Clean Your System
The first thing to do is drain your reservoir and remove any debris with a cleaning solution
Operate your system for a day with a mixture of 1/8 of a cup of non-chlorine bleach to a gallon of water
Drain your system again and run clean water through it until any excess bleach is removed.
Ebb and Flow Hydroponics systems are a great choice for meticulous gardeners who want to control every aspect of their plants’ growth.
While they are aesthetically more appealing than regular soil systems, they also require more maintenance and TLC.
We recommend their use if you really care about the quality of your produce, and have the time and dedication to continuously monitor your plants.
We also recommend that you start small if you’re not an expert on various gardening systems and specifically hydroponics.
It’s never a bad idea to visit your nearest botanical garden/ gardening store for ideas and inspiration as you embark on this exciting gardening journey!