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Ebb and Flow Hydroponics

AmericanbigfootbigThere’s more than one hydroponic method you can adopt but the most popular is the ebb and flow system. It’s popular because it’s simple and easy to use.

This is how it works. The growing tray is placed higher than the reservoir containing nutrient solution. The growing medium placed in the former are from amongst rockwool, grow rocks, perlite/vermiculite mix or coconut fiber. The medium needs water. It’s periodically flooded with water using a small timer-fitted pump that automatically shuts off when overflowing occurs and an overflow drain keeps the nutrient fill height steady.

Growing Tray

You need a tray that doesn’t allow light to shine through so that roots are protected. Wood or metal are obvious choices but plastic is a better option because it’s lighter and more durable from the maintenance point of view. Check the tray well to ensure it’s smooth and therefore, won’t allow pools or puddles to accumulate. When you want water to drain back into the reservoir below, all of it should go.

Plant Pots

Pots should be non-metallic with drainage holes.

Growing Medium

Grow rocks, also called clay pebbles, are best. Because of the flooding cycles being frequent, you don’t want your growing medium to keep a lot of water in it. Clay pebbles have this attribute.


You need something sturdy and firm capable of carrying the weight of the growing tray. A table is good enough or a milk crate. It depends on your choice of indoor garden configuration. But do remember, please, the tray will get heavier as the plants grow. Once the tray has full size plants changing its configuration is very difficult.


Use a plastic or rubber-made tub, even a garbage can. Metal is strictly no-no.


You need two drains: the fill drain and the overflow drain. The latter is important because it helps keep the water level constant in your garden system. The fill pipe is also the drain pipe, which allows the water to go back the same way it came.

Water pump

Use an aquarium pump; usually it’s good enough for your need. If the design you’ve chosen involves a relatively higher distance between the two trays, you’ll need a slightly more powerful pump. Either way, these pumps are easily available.


A cheap timer works fine for a single time schedule. For large-scale ebb and flow, you need a sophisticated timer.

For more indoor,outdoor, and hydroponics information, please visit San Diego Hydroponics & Organics website.

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