You can find a range of diverse hydroponic systems in the marketplace and it may be challenging to know which one to use. The major types of methods that are typically chosen are:
• Flood & Drain / Ebb & Flow
• NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)
• Deep Water Culture
• Drip System
This post will provide a summary of each system and describe how it operates and what are the most beneficial types of fruit and veggies to grow in them.
We will start off with a popular technique and the first on the list – Flood & Drain
Flood & Drain
These systems use pumps to flood the crops and their roots with water at specific periods and for a certain amount of time. This method is totally automated. Timers are used to toggle the pumps on and off at given times and the water utilised in the flood has dissolved nutrients within it. This allows the seedlings to get all the food it requires straight at the roots. The times of the flood and drain will vary depending on what kind of plant you are producing and the sort of medium you are growing in. For instance, clay balls drain very quickly and consequently will require more floods per day, however a different medium such as rockwool will take longer to drain and as a consequence require less flooding per day to keep the roots saturated. When the flooding has completed and the pump turns off, the water empties back into the central reservoir.
The plants can be grown using this method on specific elevated tray platforms or in an individual pot system. Trays are perfect for growing vegetables that reach around a metre in height. For crops growing bigger than this a flood and drain pot system is a good idea.
Employing a tray platform allows gravity to be used throughout the drain. At the moment we are growing strawberries in our display tent of flood and drain. The tray platform system is perfect for these plants as they will not grow too high and obstruct the light. A grow tent is ideal to position this systems in since it contains all the clutter of wires and grow mediums and features a highly reflective covering on the interior.
The trays are available in numerous sizes; however we are using a 1m square tray for the strawberries. The tray is placed on a stand and the water tank (including nutrients) is beneath – this results in a nice, tidy package. There are two spouts contained in the middle of the tray, one which is attached to a pump which pumps water out of the tank below into the tray, and the second nozzle drains the water away using gravity.
Timers enable you to set how many times the systems floods and drains on a daily basis – and that is practically it. Flood and Drain trays are simple pieces of kit to use and put together. As we are employing a tent the grow lamp is mounted to one of the rails over the strawberries and currently we are simply waiting to harvest.