"Ebb and Flow" or "Flood and Drain"
The Ebb and Flow hydroponics system (or Flood and Drain) periodically floods and drains the growing medium of a plant with nutrient solution. There are many hydroponic designs for this all easily adaptable to homemade hydroponics systems.
This is, by far, my preferred method. In fact I currently have 2 separate ebb and flow systems up and running growing herbs and vegetables.
Plants are placed in a container in a growing medium of choice that sets on a platform a couple feet off the ground. It does not matter how high the platform is, it just has to be higher than the top of the container holding the nutrient solution.
This container has a hole in the bottom side used as water intake and a hole near the top even with the top of the growing medium (or a half inch under) to be used as water drainage.
A separate, 12 - 15 gallon container holds the nutrient solution (water mixed with hydroponic food) and is placed on the ground near the container with the plants.
A water pump is submerged in the nutrient solution and attached to a hose whose other end is attached to the water intake hole at the bottom of the plant container. The pump is plugged into a timer set to turn the unit on for 20 minutes each hour then to shut it off.
Finally another hose is attached to the drainage hole on the plant container and allowed to dangle over the nutrient solution container.
Presto... We now have a fully automatic ebb and flow hydroponics system requiring minimal maintenance!
When the timer turns the pump on, nutrient solution is pumped into the bottom of the plant container slowly flooding it until it reaches the top of the growth medium to automatically drain back down into the nutrient solution container. The draining action results in splashing which aerates the solution.
When the pump turns off the plant container slowly drains back down through the water intake and the pump until the next time. As a further benefit, this draining action sucks oxygen down into the growing medium to the plant's roots to be used as needed.
I have had tremendous success with this system and will provide full design details in another part of this web site.
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