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My first ebb and flow


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Old 10-18-2010, 06:23 PM
halfway halfway is offline
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Default My first ebb and flow

My first system.

I made the video for my own historical purposes, but figured I would post it here.

Since the design came from many sites and posters, maybe someone can use it for their own design ideas as well.

The medium is silica rock.

The reservoir holds 9 gallons.

The pump is a 256GPH and the airstone is connected to a small aquarium pump.

The only problem I see at this point is the tray does not completely drain. The container is built with a recessed 1" edge around the bottom perimeter that holds about 1/8 inch nutrient that will not drain. I will monitor this to see if it becomes an issue.

It was a good project and I think it is practical. I will find out over the next few weeks!!

YouTube - Hydro Syst 17 Oct 10.AVI


Edit: Can someone explain how to display the video thumbnail instead of the link?

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Old 10-19-2010, 03:21 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello halfway,
Thanks for the video, it was very informative. I'm not familiar with 'silica rock" I did a quick search and I didn't find the answer. Is silica rock porous or solid? I don't believe the the residual water that's left at the bottom when drained will be a problem, but rather an asset. The roots that hang down out of the baskets will dry out much faster than the ones in the growing medium. Therefore if they can get access to a water supply (depending on flooding cycles) it would be a benefit. In fact, if it were me I would want at least about an inch of water left at the bottom when drained (at least enough to submerge air stones). Also I would suggest to put the air stones (currently in the reservoir) in the growing chamber with the roots. Any roots that may be submerges for long periods of time will benefit from the direct air bubbles.

Looking forward to seeing the plants grow!!!
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 10-19-2010 at 03:26 AM.
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:34 AM
halfway halfway is offline
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Ah, sorry GF, I believe they contain a level of silica, but they are supeheated shale. Here is the product. They hold water like hydroton, but don't roll and supposedly over time release trace amounts of a couple minerals.

The cost was a bit cheaper than the hydro, so I went for it.

Sunleaves :: Growing Media

There is not enough room in the tray for an air stone as the water will stand at about 1/8 inch. I do like the idea of using tile squares to keep the roots from laying in the water.

My assumption is that once the roots get big enough, they will draw the remaining water from the tray between flood cycles.

I am anxious to see how the flood cycles need adjustment as the plants grow.
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:45 AM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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Hey halfway, the air-stone is a redundancy in an ebb and flow system that is setup correctly.

When you drain an Ebb and Flow system, it creates a tiny vacuum in the grow chamber that pulls ambient air into the chamber all the way to the very bottom.

Timing your drain cycle to supply the proper amount of air is the key. The drain cycle should be as often as possible within reason, both botanically and financially. Too often and it doesn't really help but will use electricity.

The timing depends on ambient conditions of course. If it's very hot out, you'll have to increase your floods to compensate for the heat and to keep the roots at the correct temps. When it's cooler, not as many floods are necessary.

Here's what makes some ebb and flow people crazy when I say it; I use a one hour on/ two hours off cycle, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I've done so for more than 20 years on all my plants and they simply love it.

This timing provides maximum nutrients, maximum water and maximum oxygen to the roots while keeping them cool even on 100 degree days.

During the drained cycle, the plants still have plenty of water due to the retained water within the media. This is why using a porous media like hydroton is so very important.

It takes the plant much more time to use all the oxygen that is pulled into the growing chamber each two hours. There will be plenty for all the plants needs for the entire two hours of being drained and if the proper media is used, there is plenty of water also for the herringbone roots to absorb.

Having a properly sized grow chamber is absolutely necessary for the above reasons. Too small and not enough root space, water retention or oxygen is supplied to the root zone.

You really can't go too large. The roots will expand to what they need. If you use a grow chamber that's the size of Detroit, the roots will stop long before reaching the city limits.

With all hydroponic gardening, timing, timing, timing is the most important factor in it's proper use.

Many hydroponic growers will insist that a 15 minute flood is proper. I've proven that it doesn't work as well as my one hour flood with a two hour drain cycle. That's why I've used it for all this time after trying many, many combinations.

A 15 minute flood will work. I've found it just doesn't work as well as the one hour flood for me.
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:28 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I agree with most everything that NorEastFla is saying, although I have a couple of points. Yes the drain cycle does draw in fresh air with every cycle, but does not add dissolved oxygen to the water itself. And the way I see it, you just cant get to much oxygen to the roots. So I like to get it there every way I can, including using air pumps (in the water) and hydrogen peroxide. But is it necessary, no not really especially if it's not hot.

The long on/off times is largely based on the setup itself (including the growing media). For moisture retention I like using Coco chips, it holds moisture more than twice as long as the hydroton (grow rocks). I don't really have any set flood/drain times myself. I just watch the plants and growing medium, and adjust as I feel necessary. But I don't think that I have ever had luck with off times longer than 30 min. The timer I used (for the flood and drain systems) has minimum 30 min on/off times, and with 1 hour off the plants tend to wilt (especially in warm weather). In fact during hot days I often set the timer for "30 off" and "1 hr on" during the hot part of the day (especially while getting direct sunlight). In the late afternoon when they get shade, I'll set it back to 30 on/off.

But in a drip system (using coco chips and 5 gallon buckets) I have often used a 30 on and 2 to 2 and 1/2 hr off, even on hot days. In fact there has been a few of times where ether the gfi tripped or I forgot to plug the pump back in, and did not even find out until 3 or 4 pm the next day, and the plants still were not wilting. It really all depends on the setup, so I try not to give people the on/off times they should use. But rather give starting options, and stress keeping an eye on the plants for them to decide what works best for there setup.
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:36 PM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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GpsFrontier has brought up a very important factor in the timing and construction of an ebb and flow system that is outside in ambient temperatures.

Heat is a real problem. In some places cold can also be a problem.

The ideal root zone temperature is 75-78F. The roots can take up oxygen and nutrients best at that root zone temperature.

If you live in an area where the ambient temperatures can get to 90+ for extended times, its a good idea to run your flood times more frequently to keep the root zone at the optimum temperature.

You can also do other things to help. Putting the reservoir into the ground will help keep the nutrient solution cooler. This is true regardless of the type of system you use.

Installing a chiller on larger systems can be a must in some locations where its impossible to keep the reservoir temps down to a reasonable limit.

Putting a temperature probe into the root zone periodically during the drained cycle will tell you if your root zone is getting too hot. If so, increasing the flood timing will sometimes resolve that problem.

In areas where it gets cooler than 50F at night, that also can create a real problem. It too can be resolved and the growing season extended by using more frequent floods. Again, monitoring the root zone temp is the only way to tell if its getting too hot or cold.

I live in Northern Florida, and have used NFT almost exclusively outside in enclosed growing areas. I sometimes forget that most other places have to deal with larger temperature differences than I do.
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:37 PM
tamsterg tamsterg is offline
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Default videos

I found some great easy to follow videos on you tube published by SureToGrow. They are also posted on hydroveggies.com website under educational links.
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Old 11-19-2010, 12:01 PM
halfway halfway is offline
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Default Video Update

Thanks for everyone's input to my learning curve.

Latest video update. Awesome. Thanks for the note Nor East about keeping nutes till week 3 as opposed to my original plan of 2 weeks, I believe I will continue this process for these veggies.

YouTube - Hydroponics Growing System 19 Nov 10 Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain) Hydroponics
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Old 11-19-2010, 06:15 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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halfway
Thanks for the video update, your plants are looking great. Those roots have a nice healthy white color to them also. That's just about the size my lettuce was when I switched them over to full strength. What does your friends and family (the die hard dirt growers) say?

P.S. I'm curious, what did you decide on for a lighting cycle.
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:32 PM
halfway halfway is offline
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Default Dulling Root Color?

Ok, replaced the spent solution with clean water and let it "rinse" the system for 24 hours. I emptied that and added fresh water with full solution this morning which is at the 3 week mark.

I think it was time as some of the new growth on the basil is lighter green than they should be.

I also notice the roots of both the lettuce and the basil are not nearly as white as they have been.

I do not see any other signs of distress in the roots or the veg growth.

Should I be conserned with the dulling of the roots from white to almost a brownish haze?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-21-2010, 11:04 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Ya,
I always try to stress observation of the plants as the most important factor in knowing how they are doing. Just like you noticed the leaves starting to become yellow. I used to mark when I changed the nutrients on the calender, and/or added anything to it (and still try to). But after forgetting so many times, I mostly just rely on observation to tell me when to change them. Although knowing when it was changed last is still important, because as you get used to knowing how long the plants can go without problems (including pH swings), signs of early problems can be a singe of other issues.

The roots looked nice to me. Although I did see some slight brownish, but that is not necessarily a sign of any problems. Older roots will tend to become brownish naturally, also the nutrients in the solution tend to stain the roots the older they get. As long as you are continuing to get good new growth, and the new roots are continuing to grow out white, and the older roots are not turning dark brown, as well as the tops of the plants are looking good, then that wouldn't be anything I would worry about.

If they do start to turn dark brown, the two major factors that I know of is "lack of oxygen in the water", and "excessive nutrient temperatures". Of coarse dark brown mushy roots could be caused by pathogens that can cause root diseases also, as well as fungal diseases, but I have not ever come across that specific problem. Like I said, I clean and flush my systems to prevent that sort of thing. But I have dealt with "excessive nutrient temperatures" (I live in the mojave desert). But I would consider the two major factors first.

I always keep an eye on the nutrient temp just in case, it should be be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit optimally. Above 80 and your likely to see signs of browning as well as dissolved oxygen loss in the water. Below 60 and the plants wont be able to absorb the nutrients as well, and your likely to see signs of stunted growth. Because I grow outside my nutrient temps have ranged from 110 in summer, to about 38 in winter, so I have seen extremes and dealt with both.

I also add H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide), not really for pathogen/fungal control, but for adding extra dissolved oxygen. But it can help reduce the number of pathogens in the solution also if you ever come across it. I use 1 tsp (5mL) per gallon each week (when I remember). Sometimes I forget when I added it because I didn't write it down, so I will wait to add more so I don't add too much in too short of a time.

P.S. Just thought I would mention that when I flush my systems with straight water with each nutrient change, I usually just run it through a couple of cycles (30 min each or so). Then sometimes I empty that out and do it again, before emptying that to add the fresh nutrient solution. But I don't think flushing it for 24 hours will hurt anything.
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