STOP! If you have just arrived at this website looking for an easy hydroponics ebb and flow system, you might want to go back to page one of this mini-farm plan.
NOW, let's learn how to take care of this baby!
Well, you did it! You are now the proud owner of a brand-new hydroponics ebb and flow system. Our hope is that with this introductory project, you will come to love Hydro as we do.
This is just the beginning. After you find success with your easy hydroponics ebb and flow unit, we urge you to explore other systems and sample wide varieties of crops along the way.
Good luck to you, and most importantly… Have fun!
You can use just the light from a sunny window if all you are growing are houseplants. Anything else requires some supplemental lighting.
A T5 compact fluorescent “grow light” will do fine for houseplants, herbs, and leafy green veggies like lettuce. This one is available for under $75, including the 125 watt compact T5 bulb:
You can order this lamp and bulb here: Cheap Hydroponics Supplies. You can get off much cheaper by getting a fluorescent “grow stick” at
Walmart for about $25, but you will not get the lush growth a better
light setup will produce. For best results, upgrade to the 200 watt bulb
listed on our supplies page.
If you are interested in fruiting veggies like tomatoes, or serious herbs, you will have to upgrade to an HID lamp. Learn more about HID lighting and see our special combo lamp deal here: Hydroponic Lights
In keeping with our philosophy of easy hydroponics ebb and flow operation, we highly recommend the Flora Series nutrient solutions put out by GH (General Hydroponics). This stuff is superior, easy to use, and reasonably priced. It consists of 3 parts (Flora Grow; Flora Micro; and Flora Bloom). If you have hard water, get the Hardwater Flora Micro instead.
For this smaller garden, order a quart of each of the three solutions: Cheap Nutrients. Stick with Flora Series, follow the label directions, and you can't go wrong!
The nutrient reservoir must be kept cool (55-70°). This is especially important for the cool-season crops like lettuce and broccoli. Learn more about hydroponics nutrient solutions here: Hydroponic Solution. We also provide a nifty little mixing chart there for the Flora nutrients that you can print out and save.
the nutrient level drops in the reservoir bin, you need to periodically
add water only (not more nutrient). Keep track of how many gallons you
top up with. When you have replaced 5 gallons of water, stop topping up
and let the level drop down towards the pump.
When it starts “sucking air”, drain the bin and mix up a whole new batch of nutrient solution. Each new 10 gallon batch should last 3-5 weeks by following this “50% system”.
It is a very good idea for any serious hydroponics project to keep the
pH of the water in the proper range, which is 5.5 to 6.5 (6.0 is ideal).
If the pH is out of range, some of the nutrients get “locked out” and
the plants suffer.
GH puts out a simple test kit with pH up & down solutions cheap. It will last you through many gardens. You can order it here: Cheap Nutrients.
You can actually use whatever growing medium you prefer in the ebb and flow pots. We recommend a 50/50 Coco Coir and perlite mixture for the growing area. Line the bottom of the pots first with 2” of LECA (Hydroton; clay balls).
LECA provides an excellent wick for the nutrient solution and prevents all the Coco/perlite mixture from washing away during the ebb cycle.
This is a brick of Coco-Coir and a handful of Hydroton clay balls:
Here is a cheap source for your media: Cheap Media
can be bought at any garden center. Coco Tek and Hydroton balls must be
ordered from a hydroponics supplier. Click here to learn more about Hydroponic Growing Media.
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