Ebb and Flow Hydroponics Gardening System Explained

Cost-Effective Food Production

What is Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System?

An Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System is commonly known as flood and drain gardening. This basically means that you flood the roots of a plant with a nutrient solution (hydroponic solution) and allow the excess to seep out of the system.

This is intrinsic to air circulation to the roots since, during the flooding process, air is forced out of the ebb and flow system.

On the other hand, the pores, between the material (pebbles) hosting the roots, create a vacuum effect that sucks up oxygen-filled air as the water drains out. A thin nutrient film is also left accessible for plant roots.

This system is well suited for small-scale farmers and can be fitted booth indoors and outdoors. It favors the growth of several plants including the zucchini, tomatoes, chili peppers among others.

This hydroponic system is a suitable option when one wants to transfer germinating plants to a more controlled environment. It is a reliable agricultural means since it has a timer and monitoring is not really required unless the solution runs dry.

Constructing the Ebb and Flow Hydroponics model promise to bring with it, a sense of accomplishment to the owner rather than buying an overpriced model from the agricultural stores.

This DIY project is also a safety measure against contaminated or genetically modified foods.

Ebb and Flow Hydroponics
image source Growers House

Requirements for Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System

You will need the following for ebb and flow hydroponics diy:

  • 4 Rectangular containers 50 cm by 30 cm by 40 cm
  • Reservoir
  • A timer that turns the pump on/off
  • Pump
  • 8 Plastic pipes each 20 cm length 3.5 cm diameter
  • two plastic pipes 120 cm length, 10 cm diameter. Each with one closed end
  • Hosepipe
  • Overflow tank 120 cm by 30 cm by 50 cm
  • Gravel,
  • Pebbles
  • Solid slabs.
  • A drill with a 3.5 cm diameter drill bit.

The Construction and Setup of the Ebb and Flow System

  1. Select a suitable location for your garden. It is essential that the weather calamities, such as storms, hailstones, excessive sunlight, among others, do not interfere with the system.
  2. Drill two holes on parallel sides of the container each 3.5 cm. One will be to pump in fresh solution into the hydroponic while the later will allow for the excess to flow back into the reservoir.
  3. Drill another hole on the underside of each of the containers. This will allow for drainage of to the overflow tank.
  4. Drill four holes measuring 3.5 cm diameter along the 120 cm length pipes
    5. Place the rectangular containers in series over the slabs and put the overflow tank under the system.
  5. Connect the piping. Start with connecting the smaller pipes to the rectangular tanks one on either side. Then plug the holes of the two larger pipes with adjacent pipes. Finally, connect one of the larger pipes to the reservoir and the other hose to the pump.
  6. Now place the pebbles uniformly into the four sections and add a uniform but thicker layer of gravel over the pebbles.
  7. Add the hydroponic solution to the reservoir under the stipulated ratios.

Notice that in the above design; we have overflow from the pipes and some more from under the containers such that the system works efficiently. An alternative would be to drill bigger holes and use larger pipes from the system to the reservoir and omit the holes on the underside of the container entirely.

How does Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System Work?

The pump will raise the solution through the horse pipes, through the plastic pipes, and into the rectangular slots. The water level in the container sections will rise evenly for the allocated time.

Once the maximum water capacity is reached in the containers, the excess will flow into the outflow pipe and back to the reservoir by gravity. The water will then sip slowly percolating through the gravel through the pebbles into the overflow tank. This water can be recycled in the system to facilitate an economically sensitive system. This cycle should restart about three to four times each day.

image source Visual.ly

Ebb and Flow Hydroponics watering schedule

The system is easy to maintain, and regular PH tests are expected. High PH levels can be corrected by adding distilled water to the solution and for low PH, add small amounts of the hydroponic solution until it levels out. Note that a balanced solution is different for each plant. Change the hydroponic solution every two weeks less to ensure consistency in plant nutrient supply

You can choose to plant the plants in pots and incorporate them into the hydroponic system. However, if you are considering adding a plant to the network, know that different plant growth stages require different chemical balancing. For example, a plant that is just germinating may need a lower phosphoric content as opposed to one that is flowering.

If you notice that the containers have low water levels even after pumping, you may consider lowering the height of the system. This problem translates to the Head Velocity of the pump.

If a pump is rated 2 meters Head, it means that it can only raise water to 2 meters height and anything more will cause a strain in its workload. It is, therefore, advisable to use a pump whose Head is rated twice the height of your hydroponic scheme.

If a pump is rated in PSI (Pounds per Square Inches), you should multiply the figure by 2.31 to get the Head.

If you wish to expand the system, all you have to do is repeat the above procedure. If you have extra vertical space, you can adjust the setup to run diagonally with the reservoir at the bottom. The solution in this setup will be expected to rise evenly in the containers and the reservoir. on the other hand, you can use a smaller setup, say two containers, for a similar space.

Conclusion on Ebb and Flow System

Hydroponics is a tried and tested system. You need not have a big space to do this type of farming. The process of constructing one such system is rough $ 180 and should take at most one day to build. A hydroponic aquarium can be erected in a similar way but the pumping frequency has to be higher, and the system has to be cleaned a little more often. Remember to watch this amazing video below.

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