A lot people ask what we use for our flood and drain system in order to get the results that we do, so we thought we’d share the set-up with you!
First thing first is equipment. Besides the blatantly obvious reservoir and flood tray, you will need the following:
- Water pump
- ½” vinyl tubing for flood and ¾” vinyl tubing for drain
- ½” ebb and flow outlet and ¾” ebb and flow outlet
- Porous rock such as hydrocorn or shale
- Hydroponic stable nutrients of your choice
- pH and Parts Per Million (PPM) checker
- pH up and/or pH down solution
- Net cups
- Starter Plugs
The rest is all up to technique and patience. We’ll start from the very beginning: germination from seeds. You can see how we use net cups, grow rocks, and starter plugs in combination to give our plants a good start.
We use filtered water from the city in all our systems. If you don’t have a sediment and carbon filter, you can use Dechlorinator from Microbe Life to condition your water. Without filtration, chlorine/chloramines and heavy metals can adversely affect the good bacteria that keep your plants alive and thriving.
Then we balance the water’s pH after adding a light dose of nutrients.
We put our PH at or around 5.5 – 6 so that plants can take up nutrients from the water.
It can be tough battling water-borne algae, so we use a strong hydrogen peroxide to keep things fresh. We also change our nutrient water once a week, which helps keep the salt buildup from the nutrients down.
Using the ½” tubing and outlet provides enough pressure to fill our 3×3 table in 5 minutes, and the ¾” outlet allows water to drain back faster into the reservoir for a recirculating system, thus utilizing all of the nutrients, as opposed to a drain-to-waste system.
Be sure to wear protective glasses when working under horticulture lights – be kind to your eyes! These are side-by-side photos, with and without LED glasses. You can see what a difference eye protection makes! It can also be hard to see and identify deficiencies and pests when the LEDs are on.
Diligence is key when working with hydroponics, so keep a healthy regimen of checking the water, preventing pests, and cleanliness. Our foliar spray schedule here at the Greensboro store is Neem oil Monday, Aza-Max Tuesday, and Beneficial Bacteria Wednesdays to prevent any critters from sapping our plants of energy. We have also learned when using humic acids, to choose a clear liquid to prevent stains and discolored water. Cloudy or colored water can be an issue when checking the PH with dyes.
We know that growing hydroponically can seem daunting at first, but with a bit of knowledge, practice, and diligence, growing indoors can be incredibly productive – and you can do it year-round! We love talking hydro at Fifth Season, and we are happy to walk you through our set-ups and answer any questions you might have about you can maximize your indoor garden.