Ebb and Flow Systems of Hydroponic

It’s a term used to refer to the tide stages or any other compatible movement of water. The ebb is where the water goes out when the tide moves away from the shoe. They are also commonly referred to as E & F systems. On the contrary, the flow refers to when the water comes in, and the levels start to rise. It’s a relatively novel growing technique, and you have many facets that you have to consider. 

In this guide, we have provided useful information on the best ebb and flow systems of hydroponic for you to consider. 

Let us dive right into it:

In Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponic Gardening

The Ebb and Flow system is a type of hydroponics, which provides various functionality benefits. It’s simple to use, reliable, and is also affordable to use. In most cases, ebb and flow systems involve using pots with an inert medium for optimal nutrient delivery. On the contrary, it works as a temporary reservoir for water and any dissolved mineral nutrients in the water. Once it’s set up, the hydroponic solution will fill up the system, and you will have to let it ebb away.

It’s a system that involves using a watertight growing table, whereby you place pots in the table that will accommodate the medium you use for the system. The ideal material would be one that consists of material that ensures the root gets to the level of the ebb. In some cases, the medium can comprise substances such as rockwool cubes, fiber, lava rock, and more. 

A unique mixture of these substances works well to absorb moisture with high levels of efficiency. Gravity is an important resource in this system because it helps relocate the nutrient solution. More so, it’s also an effective system for various types of plants, and it relates to space. It’s an efficient method when it comes to water usage and plant nutrient reagents. 

Plus, root disease issues and nutrient element deprivation can occur without the correct use of the solution. The solution should be appropriately oxygenated to help in the development of the plants. Since it’s a “closed” system. You may have to evaluate the recirculated nutrients to ensure they are sufficient for the plants. 

During the growing stages, you might have to replace the nutrient solution. Cleaning the root medium is also crucial because dirt and debris might accumulate in the water over time.

Principles of Use

Hydroponics is a basic system that works under specific concepts. It involves the use of fertilized and aerated water, which supplies nutrients and oxygen to the plant’s root zone. More so, it might also include sophisticated mechanization techniques, which is not often easy for a DIY enthusiast to apply. The nutrient solution must have a lower temperature where pathogen development can start. Plus, it should not be overly cool such that it compromises the activity of the roots. Roots are essential in the removal of oxygen, which necessitates the use of active aeration techniques. If the roots have excessive oxygen levels, this might create conditions that promote the development of bacteria and molds.

Since an E & F system features a design whereby the system does not have constant contact with the roots of the plants. Thus, this helps to stop issues such as over oxygenation and chilling of the solution. Plus, it’s a process that involves relying on the characteristics of root function to stop passive oxygenation at high levels. The technique is ideal for controlling the development of pathogens.

You can make the system simple using a single and two-directional path for the best nutrient mixture. The water will flow in and out of the system through a similar tube. Once the pump rises to the tray’s water, it will submerge the roots, and the pump will stop running, usually through a switch. Most times come with a timer, which helps water move through the tubes in the system. 

Ebb and flow systems are available in relation to the amount of water capacity the plants can sit in. To be specific, the highly water-retentive media might require watering procedures two times a day. Some types might require repeated flooding, with each step taking a few minutes to complete. 

Factors such as the duration it takes to flood the roots are not necessary. Thus, the pumps will function at moderate capacity and might be small for systems that have to work with indoor plants. As such, it’s a common technique to use for DIY growers and gardeners. In this system, gravity functions as the mechanism that propels the water, and aeration occurs through thin filming.

PRO TIP! – take a look at this Youtube Video by Growace, which provides a step by step guide of what to expect.

Basic Components

There are three main components of the ideal E&F system. They include:

The Plant Tray

Otherwise referred to as the flood tray, this refers to a shallow and large container that sits on a raised surface. It’s the platform on which you place your plants. You start by planting seedlings in slightly perforated pots and use a growing medium. Furthermore, you may have to use pots that are two times deeper than the flood tray. 

Then, the flood tray fills with nutrient-packed water, which travels from the reservoir. It then travels up through the bottom sections, and directly to the root section of the plants. The water then drains back out and lets the roots become dry and oxygenated before the flooding process.

Plant Tray​

The Reservoir

It’s a component that you place below the tray stand of your system. You may also have to integrate the tray into a fill and drain tube. The fill tube is the mechanism that you connect to the pump that features a timer. It’s responsible for regulating the flow of water to the flood tray. 

The drain tube works by allowing gravity to pull the water back once flooding occurs and enable water reuse. Depending on the number of plants you have in your setting, you can use the water for at most seven days. A submersible pump that features a timer makes it easy to control this type of gardening system. Why? Its because you will find it easy to control the length and frequency of the watering process. 

Using ebb and flow systems can seem like a challenging process. However, they are excellent when you are informed and have the right resources.

Drawbacks of Using E & F Systems

Using ebb and flow systems is easy, but you also have to consider the challenges. Even if it’s a suitable technique for cultivating plants that have a small structure, they are also ideal for big plants. The process will involve using buckets that average between 1 to 6 gallons in size. Plus, it’s a system consisting of high-volume pumps, such as the one you might have seen in aquariums.

You may also have to consider the labor investment involved in setting up these types of hydroponic systems. These include aspects such as washing and sterilization, which are crucial for plant development. You can achieve this by adding it to the tray by using solutions such as hydrogen peroxide. Plus, you have to plug the drain and perform hand removal of fragments manually. You have to transfer the media to the appropriate surface, even after sterilization occurs.

A second challenge in using this system is that the roots might grow together, which means that removing or harvesting crops can be a challenge. Plus, commercial crop harvesting that occurs simultaneously means that the plants are immune to various aspects relating to the specific system. However, when a pathogenic invasion occurs, the issue can spread fast, because all the roots share the same source of flooding. 

A large number of ebb and flow systems feature a recycling reservoir, which has the role of flooding the table. The pH of the solution may change over time, which can pose health issues for your plants. Failing to correct the pH may lead to various problems, including reduced nutrient absorption, and damage to the leaves. The common issue that occurs to the leaves would be leaf cannibalization. It’s a problem whereby the plant acquires nutrients from one section of the plant and re-directs it to another part of the plant.

Final Thoughts

Gardening might be a multi-faceted process, but you can achieve the best results when you have the right resources. This guide has been about the ebb and flow systems of hydroponic, which provide various ease of use benefits for gardening applications. They might not be easy to set up, but they are perfect for the traditional DIY enthusiast who wants an excellent yield. Some of the challenges to expect include labor investment, such as when performing sterilization procedures. That being said, these systems are excellent for your indoor garden. 

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