Building a Hydroponic System 3-1

Building a Simple Ebb and Flow Hydroponic System

A simple ebb and flow hydroponic system can be built with some basic components: a bucket, a tub, tubing and a growing medium. This lesson instructs you how to build an Ebb and Flow system. If you have already built the 11 Plant Garden or have your own store bought garden then you can proceed to Lesson Four.

The procedure outlined below for building a hydroponic unit can be applied to a classroom project or can be used by a student for building their own hydroponic garden at home.

You will need:


1 bucket for your nutrient reservoir (2- 5 gallons)


1 tub for your plant bed (approximately l' x 2' x 6")


3 ft. plastic tubing, 1/2" diameter


enough Growing Medium to fill the tub (plant bed)


silicone or epoxy glue


drill with 1/2" bit

bullet 2" x 2" piece of plastic screen or mesh
bullet 1 rubber band

bullet nutrient solution

bullet seeds or bedding plants from your local nursery

  1.  Drill a 1/2" hole on the side of the bucket, about 1" from the bottom
  2. Insert the hose into the hole in the bucket and seal the edges of the hole with the glue.
  3. Drill a 1/2" hole in the side of the tub (plant bed) about 1" from the bottom.
  4. Insert the other end of the tubing into the hole in the plant bed, allowing the end of the tubing to protrude 2" through the bucket. Seal the edges of the hole with the glue. Allow time for the glue to dry .

 5. Wrap the piece of screen around the end of the tubing that comes through the side of the plant bed and secure with the rubber band. This prevents the growing medium from clogging the tube.

 6. Pour the growing medium into the tub, filling it to I" below the rim. Your Ebb and Flow hydroponic garden is now ready for nutrient solution and planting.
7. Fill your bucket with the mixed nutrient solution. Lift the bucket (higher than the grow bed) and allow the solution to run from the bucket into the grow bed. You can place the bucket on something higher than the grow bed white waiting for the nutrient solution to drain into the grow bed. When the growing medium is saturated, lower the bucket so the solution can drain back into the bucket. 
(Mixing of nutrient solution is covered in Lesson
5 )

          8. Once your growing medium is saturated, you can plant your seeds. Follow the instructions on the seed
          packet for planting depth. Or use starter plants from your local nursery. Carefully wash the lose 
          medium from  the bedding plant roots before putting the plants in the plant bed. (See Lesson Six for more

9. Once you have planted the seeds, the growing medium will need to be kept moist with nutrient solution. 
           This is done by raising the bucket (flooding the grow bed) and lowering the bucket (draining the grow 
           bed). This should be done several times a day to maintain a proper moisture level in the growing medium
           surrounding the plant roots.

You can automate this hydroponic garden by adding a small pump in your nutrient reservoir to flood the grow bed and a timer to start and stop the pump.

You will need to place your hydroponic garden near a window in direct light or, add artificial lighting. More information on proper lighting can be found in Lesson Seven.