All About Ebb And Flow: A Clever Kind Of Hydroponics
Ebb and flow is a low-cost, high-efficiency hydroponic system. Thanks to its clever design, it allows you to grow plants in a largely automated way. This setup is perfect for the novice-to-intermediate grower who’s ready to supervise their growing system without micromanaging.
Ebb and flow, also known as flood and drain, is an effective hydroponics system that’s becoming increasingly popular for growing cannabis. It’s low in cost and intermediate in difficulty. If you’ve tried out some basic hydroponics systems and are ready to take things to the next level, ebb and flow might be for you.
WHAT IS EBB AND FLOW?
In ebb and flow, plants are potted in an inert growth medium which provides no nutrition, but anchors the roots and drains slowly. The pots are then placed within a growing tray, which sits above a reservoir of nutrient-rich water. This water is pumped from the reservoir into the growing tray where it flows through holes in the pots to the roots of the plants. The water is then allowed to slowly drain back to the reservoir through the force of gravity. The roots then remain dry for a period and become oxygenated.
This is a kind of “fast and feast” model. During the flooding phase, the plant becomes “starved” for oxygen—so it feasts on O₂ when the roots are dry. Vice versa during the draining phase—the plants becomes thirsty and guzzle water.
Once set up, the ebb and flow system pretty much takes care of itself. It’s easy to maintain and works in a mostly automated way. They are also cheap and fairly easy to set up. It’s pretty simple—the limited exposure of the plant roots to the nutrient solution prevents the necessity of temperature control, water oxygenation, and other complicated factors common to other hydroponic systems.
Ebb and flow systems are known for their modesty—they’re quiet, take up little space, and don’t require much energy. If you need your hydroponics system to be unobtrusive, ebb and flow is a good choice.
The major disadvantage of an ebb and flow system is that if something goes wrong, you could ruin your whole crop. This system needs monitoring, especially with new, untested equipment. If there is a problem, you’ll need a human brain to solve it!
Another disadvantage is that this growing method can lead to root diseases and nutrient insufficiency if you neglect sanitation and maintenance. Be sure to replace your nutrient solution weekly, and to clean all parts of the system between grows.
Poor drainage can tank this system, leading to root rot and other issues. Make sure to set everything up correctly from the start, and you should be good to go.
HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN EBB AND FLOW SYSTEM
WHAT YOU NEED
- Reservoir with lid
- Growing tray to sit above the reservoir
- Rubber piping
- Water pump with timer (a garden pond pump works)
- Plants potted in an inert grow medium (such as coarse sand, clean gravel, or Rockwool cubes)
- Drill two holes in the lid of the reservoir; drill another two in the base of the growing tray, lined up to be directly above those of the reservoir.
- Connect two of the holes with an overflow tube, which sits above the expected water level in the growth tray and will catch excess water if flood levels run too high.
- Connect the other two holes with black tubing; this tube will act as both flood pump and drain. Attach the head of the pump in the reservoir to the mouth of this tubing.
- Place the potted plants in the growing tray. The pots should be about twice as tall as the edge of the growing tray.
- Set the timer on the pump. You should plan for the flooding period to last for 15 minutes, and the draining period to last for another 15.
How often to flood and drain? This depends on your grow medium and climate. In cooler climates, or with a slower-draining media like Rockwool, two floods a day should do the trick. In warmer climates, or with fast-draining media, you may go up to four floods a day, or even six.
There you have it—if you’re looking for an achievable challenge in the world of hydroponic growing, ebb and flow might be in your future!
Wanna take your hydroponics system to the next level? Ebb and flow is a smart and simple system for hydroponic growing, and may be right for you.
How To Grow Marijuana With Ebb And Flow
The Ebb and Flow technique also known as Flow and Drain, is one of the most popular hydroponic methods for growing marijuana due to its ease to use, low maintenance and has a high-yield. The technique involves growing a plant in a growing medium where it will produce its stem and as well as roots. After that the roots will develop passing through the growing medium and down to the nutrient water solution.
The bottom level of the growing medium is stuffed with nutrient mixture by using a small pump that’s set on a timer that will nourish and water the plants. When you turn off the timer, the pump and the nutrient solution will sewer back into the water container.
Essentially an Ebb and Flow setup made for cannabis growing will have the individual cannabis plants and pots set up in Rockwool cubes. If you are not fan of using rockwool cubes you can use any other hydroponic growing medium on growing bed. Usually the growing bed will only be able to grip about 2 inches / 5 cm of hydroponic nutrient solution.
The hydroponic nutrient solution will then be pumped onto the growing bed and used to flood the growing medium from the bottom upwardly while in the same time pushing out oxygen.When the nutrient solution reaches its highest level the drain pipe will be stuffed. With that being said if you want to have your own Ebb and Flow system, here is a simple guide on how to build it.
All the materials used in this guide are easy to find online or locally from hydroponic shops. You can buy them separately or if you want to save time, you can buy them as a unit which already has all the components.
Let’s Begin With All The Stuff You Will Need
Reservoir – That’s where you will place the hydroponic nutrient solution. As a rule of thumb i would recommend checking the pH levels at least once a day to avoid any issues, keep it clean and always disinfect.
Gardening Tray – The gardening tray, usually a plastic container is where you will have to place the growing medium and grow the marijuana seedlings. The plastic container is highly recommended to be made up of durable heavy plastic. In order to avoid rotting of the roots, always make sure that there are no small pools or puddles of water when you drain the tray.
Overflow Drain – The overflow drain is used to prevent too much hydroponic nutrient solution flooding in your marijuana plants. For that reason, the drain is placed at the highest area where you want the nutrient solution level to rise.
Table / Support Structure – This is where you will place the gardening tray. To avoid any issues, make sure the support structure is sturdy and able to support the weight of all your plants, gardening tray with nutrient solution and the growing medium. You can use any type of support structure but i find heavy duty metal tables either custom made or found online to work best.
Pipe and Fittings – The pipe is used as a passageway of the nutrient solution from the reservoir tray to the growing tray.
Pump and a Timer – The timer is used to turn the pump on and off on a schedule.
Growing Medium – Choosing which growing medium you are going to use is up to you but one of the most commonly used grow mediums when growing marijuana is Rockwool cubes.
Buckets or Modules – An excellent alternative to the gardening tray is to use modules or buckets where you will have to place the plants separately from each other. One of the advantages of using buckets is that you can easily increase the numbers of marijuana plants.
As a side note i would like to mention that this setup is just an example and there are a lot of other Ebb and Flow systems you can use and have a great success.
How To Assemble
Start with installing the overflow drain and pipe to the gardening tray. Now place the gardening tray on the support structure or table depending on what you have. Proceed with placing the reservoir under the gardening tray, put the pump into the reservoir and attach it to the pipe on the grow tray. At the end, connect the timer to the pump.
To make sure that the overflow drain works, make sure there are no leaks in your tubing or pipe.
How To Operate The System
First start with setting the timer in according to the number of marijuana plants you’re growing to flood the roots of your plants around 3 to 4 times per day at regular intervals. As an example, you can flood your plants for 20 minutes. Also make sure you replace the hydroponic nutrient solution every 1 to 2 weeks depending on the marijuana plants you have.
To prevent nutrient lockout due to a high or low pH levels, you will have to make sure that the pH of the nutrient solution stays in the range of 5.5 to 6.5, ideally a pH of 5.8 is your goal. In order to have even distribution of nutrient solution in the gardening tray, you will have to flood it to about 1/2 to 3/4 of its height.
Make sure that you leave at least 20-25% extra nutrient solution left in the reservoir after you flood the grow tray. That’s being done to ensure that there is always enough nutrient solution during the daily evaporation.
What Are The Different Growing Mediums?
Mediums like gravel, sand, perlite and volcanic rock have been getting popular in the hydroponic world. But with the increasing popularity of growing mediums, new substrates have come out on the market. Some of them being rockwool, coco coir and clay pebbles.
Rockwool (Aff.link) is an excellent insulating material and widely used in hydroponic systems and as mentioned above it’s the primarly used growing medium for growing marijuana. However it will take some time and experience to get everything set up and running. Before you place the marijuana seed to germinate, you have to make sure that the pH of the rockwool cube is around 5.5.
In order to do that, immerse the rockwool cubes for 24 hours in the nutrient solution with a pH of around 4.5 and an EC with nutritional value of 0.5 to 0.6. If the pH of the rockwool cubes is still not as the required value, proceed with immersing the cubes again for a few more hours and checking regularly until the pH is 5.5.
When we talk about hydroponics, clay pebbles is probably one of the most popular growing medium used in hydroponic systems nowadays. They are widely known for their ability to provide the roots with excellent oxygenation. By doing that the roots tend to grow amazingly if it’s properly irrigated. Another advantage of clay pebbles is that they don’t place the roots under any stress and allow them to grow easily, allowing easy nutrient absorption by the roots.
Stay away from buying the cheapest ones and make sure you find clay pebbles that are already washed and have their pH adjusted.
This particular growing medium is extremely popular amongst Asian grow operations. Coco Coir (Aff.link) is the result of natural waste produced by coconut plantations. The Coco Coir is made from the outer shell of the coconut and it’s also renewable and can hold moisture better than soil by absorbing water more efficiently.
It also comes with naturally present nutrients, neutral pH value and can be used for up to 5 years. If you are growing marijuana indoors, Coco Coir is an awesome choice because it doesn’t develop any fungi even though it retains water for a long period of time.
The Ebb and Flow technique also known as Flow and Drain, is one of the most popular hydroponic methods for growing marijuana due to its ease to use, low maintenance and has a high-yield. The technique involves growing a plant in a growing medium where it will produce its stem and as well as roots.…