Ebb and Flow
Ebb and Flow, or Flood and Drain systems, whichever takes your fancy are great for novice hydroponic growers just starting out.
It’s simple, reliable and produces higher yields than other systems, so why wouldn’t you want to get cracking with it?
If you’ve read through our basic guide to hydroponics, you’ll understand it’s a process by which plants are fed with water and dissolved nutrients.
What Is Ebb And Flow?
There’s no soil used. Instead, it’s a chemically inert material such as rockwool or expanded clay balls which act as a physical anchor for your plant’s roots.
You grow your plants in pots filled with the inert material which sit on a grow tray. If you wish, you can use any tray but there are ones hydroponically-designed which have grooves in them to channel water away from your plant pots.
If you use flat-bottomed trays the system will no longer be called Ebb and Flow, but rather Ebb and Pool. Your plants don’t want this.
The depth of the tray should be approximately six or seven inches for effective flooding.
Tray stands hold your growing trays a couple of feet above you reservoir. This allows the drainage to happen naturally with the help of our friend gravity.
The recommended volume of nutrient solution is 30 gallons/136 litres per 8 square feet of grow tray. It’s important to get a lid for your reservoir too, to prevent unnecessary evaporation and minimise algal growth.
Your grow tray will have two holes in it, both at the lowest point of the tray. One enables flooding and the other provides an outlet for overflow and drainage of the nutrient solution. Water-tight fittings are necessary and available in the form of kits.
A pump pumps your nutrient solution up to your grow tray until it reaches the height you’ve set your overflow at, which is flexible to your specifications.
Your pump should automatically turn itself off once overflow drainage has been detected and the nutrient solution should return to the reservoir.
You don’t want your plants to sit in any pools of nutrient solution. If the root systems are extensive enough yet to absorb the nutrient solution where they sit, you’ll have to manually water them from the top until they’re established enough to go it alone.
Flooding your grow tank will only take about five minutes.
Why is Ebb and Flow such a good method? The flooding pushes away the air from the plant’s roots that they’ve already sucked the oxygen from.
When the nutrient solution drains away again, fresh, oxygen-rich air rushes back in. Metabolism is boosted and your plants cannot wait to get growing some more. There’s a reduced risk of root rot too, which typically occurs because of overwatering.
Digital timers allow you to regulate your Ebb and Flow exactly, so your plants are getting their preferred ratio of watering to drainage.
You don’t want any larger bits of runaway plants or growing material to disrupt the way your pump operates, so fitting filters on the inflow and outflow will save it from breaking. If the pump becomes dysfunctional your plants can die quickly in Ebb and Flow systems as there’s no manual way for them to receive nutrients.
There are three factors when deciding how often to flood the grow tank. The first is how much the growing medium absorbs the nutrient solution, the size of the plant pots - three to five gallon/13 to 22 litre fabric pots are really good for this system, and the size of your plants.
You’ll want to top up your nutrient solution with water or half-concentration nutrient solution every few days. If you leave it, the nutrient solution will become too concentrated, and harmful to your plants.
Autonomous systems are purchasable which monitor the pH level, conductivity level, and temperature to the nutrient system, and log the data in your computer. Easy.
Materials for ebb & flow
Have you seen our other Articles on hydroponics?
The Basics Of Hydroponics | The Kratky Method | Types Of Hydroponics | Deep Water Culture | The Drip System | The Wick System | Lighting In Hydroponics | The Ebb And Flow System | Nutrient Film Technique | Nutrients For Plant Growth | Ventilation For Hydroponics | Growing Media Used In Hydroponics | Hydroponics | The Best Way To Cure Root Rot | How To Choose A Grow Tent | The Best LED Grow Lights | Everything You Need To Know About Nutrient Lockout | The Best Air Pumps For Hydroponics | The Best PH Meters For Hydroponics | What Mom Never Told You About The GH Dual Diaphragm Air Pump |Error contacting server