Starting out with an indoor grow is key if you want to be able to craft truly unique strains. Growing indoors with a good hydroponic setup will allow you to control all of the important variables for perfecting your strain. From lighting and nutrients to water and ventilation, humidity and temperature. Essentially, growing indoors allows you to control the weather and other factors that influence your micro-ecosystem.
Doing an indoor grow effectively, however, can be more costly to set up than other outdoor methods. The difference is, it will save you on potential losses later – from pests, droughts, or other natural disasters. Because of this, you may want to start with a single grow box to get a good strain going, then expand later.
Keep in mind when making these decisions that choosing the right strain is only the beginning. Having the right grow environment is just as important. Photosynthesis is key. The way your plants can carry out that most precious of chemical processes will affect their yield, as well as the overall quality of the traits you’re trying to cultivate.
There are six main factors that you can influence to help control the quality and consistency of the product. The following list will help you make decisions for each of those factors in order to grow a more perfect bud.
- As mentioned above, photosynthesis is key. Light is key to photosynthesis. So let’s not mess up the lighting, okay? Right. So, we need a completely dark room. I know what you’re thinking – I just said light was really important, so why am I suggesting a dark room? Well, we want to control the light, right? And we can’t do that with light leaking in from outside, so seal off those windows with opaque material and make sure that the doors aren’t letting light through either.
- There are two main phases to be concerned with regarding lighting. In the vegetative phase, you’ll need 18 hours of light at about 400W, and 6 hours of darkness. During flowering, the other phase, your darlings will need 12 hours of light at 600W and 12 hours of darkness. Those wattages are based on choosing HPS/MH lighting. If you can spring for LEDs, this is recommended, since you’ll use less power. Just make sure the LED bulbs you buy provide equivalent brightness to the 400/600W HPS/MH bulbs.
- While you want the room to be light proof for complete darkness, when the lights are actually on, you’ll want to reflect as much of it as possible. White walls are good at this, as is pretty much anything reflective with which you can cover the interior surfaces of the grow room.
- Finally, automation is your friend. Putting your lights on an automatic timer switch is a life saver – both for you and your plants.
- In addition to being light-proof, your grow room should be as airtight as possible. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is the smell. Even in legal states, many people find the odor of marijuana plants to be offensive, and you may not want to bring that kind of attention onto yourself. The other is to be able to control both CO2 and temperature.
- Set up your grow room so that you have an air extraction system for removing excess heat from the lamps and the odor. Be sure to use a carbon filter. An air intake system will provide the fresh air the plants need for photosynthesis. During that process, they convert CO2 into sugars and oxygen. The idea is for the fresh air to deliver the CO2 the plants need and for the exhaust system to keep CO2 and temperature levels constant.
Watering Systems and Humidity:
- You’re going to get water on the floor. Make sure you waterproof it.
- The balance of water to the plants and humidity is key. Watering techniques will be covered later. As for humidity, you want enough to push the growth of the cannabis, but not too much, or you’ll have issues with mold and fungi.
- Just like we went through earlier, a good air circulation and ventilation system is the first step for temperature control.
- Beyond that, you want to keep the temp around 77 degrees (F). Temperatures below 64 degrees are bad news, as are those above 86 degrees. During the daylight hours, you’ll want it a little warmer than the night hours, and the lamps accomplish this but keep in mind that nighttime temps may drop below 64 degrees without ancillary heating.
- Food is fuel. It’s true for us primates. It’s true for your plants. Measure your plants frequently and make adjustments to their nutrition accordingly. They need that N, P and K (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) at different levels during different stages.
- While different nutrient blends are available, your growing cycle will determine what you need.
- These are volatile chemicals that can easily ruin your crop if you overdo it. Think of all those brown spots on the lawn from your dog.
- Nitrogen toxicity, especially, tends to take out a lot of crops.
- We’ve already covered sealing the windows and using a filter to mask the smell.
- Beyond that, take a look at how many locks you might think are appropriate, then add a couple more. Cameras are also getting a lot more cost-friendly, so that should be a no-brainer.
- Think like a scumbag. If you were going to try to break into your grow operation, how would you do it? Come up with as many vulnerabilities as possible and do what you can to mitigate them.
- Make a Plan. A simple blueprint is a good place to start for this. Then you’ll need to come up with lists for the gear and other systems you’ll need to have in place, so you can get a good idea of what you need, where it will go, and how much it will cost.
- Clear the Space. This is your grow room – not your living room. You don’t need carpets. You don’t need decorations. You don’t need furniture. You only need that which will make your plants thrive.
- Set Up Lighting and Water First. You’ll want all your wiring and plumbing in place and tested before you start bringing your pots in.
- Lay Out the Pots. Use your blueprint to guide you on the placement, and make sure you have enough soil/growing medium and other materials to execute your plan.
- Start Planting.
One final note is to keep in mind that a single grow box is probably going to be your best bet if you’re just starting out, but when you’re ready to expand, these steps should help to ensure a consistently high-quality product.