Ebb and flow system, also known as a reservoir system, is the simplest hydroponic system to build among all hydroponics. For most hobbyists ebb and flow system is the first choice to create an ideal garden because it’s inexpensive and easily accessible. The basic ebb and flow system contains a growing tray with plants in the containers. Growing medium such as pebbles, perlite and rockwool are filled in the growing tray. This growing tray is set above a reservoir filled with nutrient solution and water. Water is allowed to flow from the reservoir to the growing tray on regular intervals and then drained back into the reservoir. The draining action also helps easy flow of oxygen to the root zone. To run the ebb and flow system smoothly, an overflow drain is installed to get water to move to greater height.
A simple method to build ebb and flow hydroponics system:
- Use a growing tray that restricts light to pass through, to protect the root zone. Use of plastic is a smart choice than metal or wood because of its light weight and durability to stop light to enter into the tray. Properly examine your tray before use to avoid any kind of leakage. Remember, pools of standing water resulting in pest problems, root rot and mold.
- Any kind of non-metallic plant pot with holes needed for draining will work efficiently with an ebb and flow system.
- Almost any and every growing medium is suitable for ebb and flow hydroponics system. However, clay pebbles solely is most preferred by the growers using this system. Because there is constant flow of water you don’t want a growing medium that retains a lot of water.
- You’ll need a proper support system to suspend the tray right above your reservoir. For this you can use a milk crate, table or a custom-made solution as per the size pattern of your indoor garden. Support system you use should be sturdy that can efficiently hold full weight of plants and water. While planning the final design of your hydroponics system don’t overlook the weight of water. The design you plan should be suitable for the future final growth of your plants because replacing trays during the full and final growth would be impossible.
- For a reservoir, you can use a large plastic container. You can use rubber tubs and even trash cans work well. It’s advisable to not use metal because metal can rust after some time.
- For drainage system your garden will need two drains; one to drain water into the reservoir and another to drain the excess water out of the hydroponics system. Ensure that the overflow pipe is strong enough to handle the large amount of excess water to avoid flood in your grow space.
- Use a suitable size of pump in your hydroponics system to get good water flow. An aquarium pump is ideal for most small indoor hydroponics system.
- Also, the timer you use depends on the type of your garden and plants. Most beginners use cheap timers in the start. If you are using a large hydroponics system for a bigger garden then you might need more than one timer or good-quality timer.
- The tubes you use should not be transparent as that can lead to formation of algae.
Now, you are ready to use your ebb and flow hydroponics systems. Keep a timely check on the system to avoid pooling water, flooding or harmful bacteria. You can reset your timer at the time of power failure. And, keep a track of the amount of nutrient solution and pH level you provide your plants with. Enjoy gardening with this simple homemade hydroponics system called ebb and flow hydroponics system!