Using hydroponics systems to grow fruits and vegetables dates back centuries. Hydroponic gardening is the act of growing plants without soil. The plants grow in a nutrient solution that delivers all the necessary minerals and vitamins the plants need to grow. Many types of hydroponics systems in use today vary in structure. One of these types, called a flood-and-drain system, allows the roots of the plants to get oxygen by exposing the plant roots during the drain phase. Flood-and-drain---also called ebb-and-flow--hydroponics systems are simple to use.
Fill the hydroponic nutrient reservoir with nutrient solution. Many gardening and hydroponics companies now offer premixed nutrient solutions that key in to different aspects of the individual plants. For example, there are nutrient solutions on the market that increase blooms while decreasing plant foliage, or solutions mixed to increase a plant's strength. Mix the nutrient solution with the specified amount of water suitable for your hydroponics system's size. Refer to mixing directions on the package of the nutrient solution.
Insert the plants you desire to grow into the plant trays. Take care that the roots of the plants you insert are healthy and free of disease. Snip off all root sections that appear brown or dark gray.
Connect the nutrient pump, next to the nutrient reservoir, to the plant tray using the included flexible rubber tube. Start the nutrient solution flow by pushing the "on" button, located on the pump. This part of the process is the flood in the flood-and-drain hydroponics system.
Leave the pump running for at least three minutes while the nutrient solution rises and covers the bottom 1 inch of the plant roots. During this flooding process, the old stale air and carbon dioxide will be removed and pushed out from around the roots of the plant. The vitamins, minerals and nutrients contained within the nutrient solution feed the roots during this flooding or ebbing of the hydroponics system.
Turn the pump off and allow the nutrient solution to flow from the plant tray through the rubber tubing. The plant roots will receive much-needed oxygen during the draining process as the nutrient solution flows away and exposes them to the air.
Set the hydroponic system timer to flood and drain at least four times every day. If a timer did not come included with your gardening system, you must purchase one from a gardening or hydroponics supply store.