Characteristics of Flood and Drain Media grow bed
12 inches in depth
Plants grow directly in a growing media made up of particular types of stone or expanded clay pellets
Water enters grow bed, flooding the media almost completely, up to 1 inch from the surface of the media, then the water drains out of the grow bed, until there is very little water remaining in the grow bed.
Often, red wiggler worms are used in the grow beds to break down solid waste
Advantages of Flood and Drain Media grow bed
Flood and drain cycle allows plant roots and bacteria to access both water and air, simulating a well-draining natural soil environment that is rich in oxygen.
12-inch depth allows plant roots much room to grow.
Media traps solid waste, and worms break down the waste, so there are more nutrients available in the system.
Disadvantages of Flood and Drain Media grow bed
Seeding, transplanting, and harvesting plants in media is more labor-intensive than in DWC and NFT systems, where the plant is self-contained.
Flood and drain mechanism is more complicated than constant water flow of DWC and NFT, and requires knowledge of siphons or timers for water pumps.
Water and media are heavy. Flood and drain media beds should not be stacked vertically on top of one another.
See below an example of a Flood and Drain media bed by Sweet Water Foundation, in partnership with the Center for Veterans Issues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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