You have been wanting to set up your own grow space indoors. You know you have a little extra room, and the idea of a small garden doesn’t sound too overwhelming. You want to be able to grow the crop you want indoors, so let’s unleash the bounty!
We want to furnish you with everything you need to set up your grow room in a few hours, you just need to supply the plants/seeds/cuttings of your choice.
Thinking About Space
You don’t need a warehouse, or even a garage to start your first indoor grow room; an unused bedroom, a small home office, a closet, etc. can work perfectly.
Let’s say you settled on a small area in your basement to convert into a grow room. Congratulations! Hydrobuilder is here to help you get setup.
Take a quick look at some of our tent packages. These will give you an idea of how a room will fill up with necessary pots, lights, fans, and other growing equipment or tools. A pretty basic grow could start with enough room for 1 to 6 plants. If you are considering a continuous growth cycle, you may want to allot more space for alternate light-cycles. Dedicating one space to flowering and one to vegetative growth can keep your cycle going year-round. If the idea of a continuous harvest is appealing to you, then consider planning your grow room with two separate chambers to isolate plants and day/night cycles.
Depending on your needs and available space, you could have 5 total separate areas for your different stages of the grow cycle if you intend to have a perpetual, self-sustaining grow.
- Room for a mother plant
- Room for clones/seedlings/cuttings
- Room for vegetative growth
- Room for flowering
- Room for drying and curing after harvest
For beginners, start with just the basics until you are ready to expand. All you really need to get going is a single grow space, enough to hold a single plant.
Basically, you’ll want four walls around your grow space, a ceiling, accessibility to power sources, and room planned for where your ventilation and exhaust will enter and exit. Also, keep in mind that you need to allow for spillage on the floor. It will probably happen at some point, and you will want your location to be easy to maintain in the absence of the floor tray of a grow tent. A room with a drain is optimal but carpet can be protected with mylar coverings or a plastic drop. Keeping the floor clean and dry will mitigate potential threats to your plant.
A room like a basement will have a lower ambient temperature than a garage and less temperature fluctuation, so keep this in mind also when picking your location. A garage in the summer time will be harder to keep cool, especially if you are using HID lighting. Also, the concrete will absorb heat from the light, so keeping hydroponic systems and soil-filled pots isolated from the concrete can insure a more consistent temperature for the plant. Putting plants on a table (size permitting) is one option.
Think about what you want to accomplish with your grow
- What type of plant do I want to grow? Some plants just require larger pots, grow larger or taller than others.
- Is light-proofing this area possible? This is a critical component of a successful grow room.
- Where will I vent the air from my grow space?
- Do I have an adequate source of fresh air for the garden?
- Will smell be a consideration with the plants I am growing? Some flowers and herbs can produce a great deal of scent during their bloom phase and, while pleasant at first, this may lose it's luster over time.
- Is growing organically a concern?
Planning for these things ahead of time will save you a great deal of misery later on in your gardening.
So you have your location, you have either decided to use the existing walls or build a smaller structure or tent inside the space to house your garden and you have good access to power. If you are constructing a free standing structure it can be very helpful to have additional doors and access points in order to inspect and maintain your plants with ease. Regular inspection can keep bug infestations and other maladies at bay before they get out of hand.
You’ll want to keep in mind the smallest space is the easiest to cool, ventilate, and exhaust heat from. It means fewer plants, but higher yields if they are well taken care of.
Clean the room and disinfect it as well as you can. You don’t want to affix your panda film or Mylar to damp, dirty surfaces or walls. It is equally important to prevent contaminants from getting into your grow area such as spores, mold, or bugs.
Creating two chambers is the equivalent of purchasing a double-ended tent. If you are setting up multiple chambers, you will need more panda film and Mylar as well as a way to isolate light between the two. Designing a single room will allow you to grow your crop through its entire cycle in one room with one light. Multiple chambers allow you to grow two crops simultaneously, or at different stages of the growth cycle and with different lighting conditions. This is desirable if you want to have a perpetual harvest. Its always best to start small and work your way up to more chambers are you get better at gardening and can take on the added work.
You should set aside a small work area to be able to store your growing tools and equipment as well as have space to mix your nutrients and fertilizers.
You want all surfaces of the room to be as reflective as possible to maximize the light coverage of your plants from every available angle. Panda film or space paper is great for this as it has a highly reflective surface that also dissipates light throughout the area. This is why a mirror is not an ideal choice as it can lead to hot spots or burns on your plants from light intensity in any one single area. Your wall, floor, and ceiling coverings act to amplify the efficiency of your lighting as well as keep outside light from interrupting your plants dark cycles. This is generally why all interior surfaces need to be covered.
Be aware of water spillage in your rooms. Excess water on the floor can lead to extra humidity, and is a breeding ground for mold and fungus. A room with a drain is ideal but not required. You still want the floor covered with either Mylar or plastic drop cloth to reflect light, make it easy to clean, and in some cases, protect flooring.
Make sure you know where your outlets or power strips will be so that you can easily access them to turn systems on or off if you are not using a controller to automate your garden.
Since you will be creating an entire environment for your plants to grow, let’s start with the sunlight you’ll be replacing with bright artificial light. Your freshly-lined walls and ceiling are now ready to house your lights.
Your light’s footprint is the area of your light’s optimal coverage in its individual area. This area will vary with the size of your light and how far away it is hung from your plant canopy. You will definitely want your light footprint to correspond with your room size. Plants should be near the reflective wall surface to make the most use of the light and achieve the most light penetration through the canopy but not so close as to block out light. Plants also need to be monitored for light burn if they are too close to light sources.
Something else to keep in mind is that the lower the wattage, the smaller the footprint. A 300-watt fluorescent will not serve the same area as a 1000-watt HID or LED. Another way to look at it is you need 600-watts of light minimum per 6 square feet of growing space.
Most beginners start at 400 or 600-watts, but for best results and a slightly higher investment, a 1000-watt lighting system is a standard now. The 1000-watt equivalent LED panel will use less energy than an HID equivalent and produce less heat, a consideration that will affect your ambient temperature. The initial cost is a little more than the HID systems, but they do require less long-term costs like bulb replacements and reflectors. The 1000-watt LED will not use 1000- watts, but its light intensity is still rated the same. LEDs also often come with variable spectrum to promote vegetative and blooming/flowering growth stages and some advanced models allow for calendar programming.
For clones or mothers, you won’t need the same intensity of light. The fluorescent light packages can be suitable for this if you don’t want to do HID or LED. This will also be a lower-wattage, lower-heat option.
With your ceiling covered to prevent moisture, light, and air leaks, you’ll want to hang your lights where they will be able to illuminate your plants as evenly as possible. The adjustable ratcheting hangers assure that you can easily, and evenly lower both ends of your lighting fixture, and raise them evenly as needed. This also allows you to maintain optimal canopy to light distances as your plants mature and grow.
With your lighting, many growers opt for a light mover. It suspends your lighting hood/bulb or LED, and moves the light, which mimics the sun’s movement in nature, as well as provides better overall coverage. It also improves light penetration through the foliage. A light mover isn't required but growers looking to more closely mimic nature or wishing to cover a larger space with less lights it can be an option.
When you install hooks through the Mylar into the ceiling, just be aware that the lighting and fans/ventilation can weigh around 30 lbs., so make sure it’s sturdy. You should be able to leave your garden unattended for hours at a time with confidence.
You are going to have to circulate the air in your grow space in order to keep your plants healthy. An oscillating fan in the corner of the room will keep your crop’s leaves moving gently, which maximizes the effectiveness of your grow light, as well as strengthens the rigidity of the plant. Never point fans directly at plants as this can remove too much water from leaves causing them to droop and curl.
You want your ventilation to draw air from the top of the tent where the heat collects, through the carbon filter, and out the duct at the top. The odorized-air is pulled through the carbon filter, allowing for deodorized air out the exhaust fan. Scrubbing the air not only prevents your house from smelling like a garden but also helps to prevent pests from detecting it as easily as well. Circulating all the air in the grow room every 3-5 minutes is ideal.
There are multiple options for cooling your grow if you are not able to keep the temperature inside your grow space down below. An ac unit for your grow space might be the best solution when temperatures soar out of control. Controllers automatically control the temperature and humidity allowing for worry free gardening, even when you are not there.
- 70-80% for clones
- 40-70% for vegetative stage
- 40-50% for flowering stage
- <40% for final stages of flowering
- Vegetative: 70-85 F
- Flowering: 65-80 F
Advanced growers will often introduce CO2 into their grow rooms to boost growth. Having a CO2 generator can boost your growth by as much as 40% in some cases. This can be done with simple methods from a natural chemical reaction in a bag, to a fully-automatic CO2 generator or burner. It’s important that if you are planning to use CO2, you should make sure you are not venting it outside your grow space. Sealed vent hoods allow you to cool bulbs and lights without removing CO2. CO2 is only helpful during photosynthesis when plants are exposed to abundant sources of light so CO2 generators should be turned off a few minutes before lights go off. CO2 injection is not necessary to grow healthy plants but it can be a fun addition to already flourishing gardens when you are ready to expand your hobby.
Growers can choose between soil and soilless growing mediums depending on if they are growing in traditional pots or hydroponically. For first time growers we highly recommend growing in soil in fabric pots. Soil provides a great deal of forgiveness or nutrient and pH imbalances that first time growers often run into. Fabric pots drain well and promote root aeration as well as root pruning in order to encourage root density and nutrient uptake.
Common soilless and hydroponic grow mediums include coco coir, growstones, perlite, and clay pebbles. Seeds and cuttings are often started in rockwool cubes which can be used throughout the plants growth cycle.
Pure water is important for the vitality of your plants. Testing the pH of your water will ensure that you aren’t setting them up at a disadvantage. Many growers opt for filtered water to remove sediments and reduce total dissolved solids (TDS). Reverse osmosis (RO) filtered water provides a great base to start with. Nutrients should be reintroduced into RO water to replace those filtered out. You can also add pH Up or pH Down to water to make sure it is at the appropriate pH for plants to take in the nutrients it provides.
Soil: 6.0 - 7.0 pH
Hydroponics: 5.5 - 6.5 pH
You should do this test every time you water. You can get a digital tester or a simple pH strip testing kit to check your water or soil.
Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to start gardening. Keep notes on what you did in order to remember what worked and what didn’t. Most importantly, have fun. Gardening is a great hobby that provides a bounty for your table as well as a creative outlet.
Too much work?
Well then, there's always complete tent packages that Hydrobuilder offers that are already perfectly matched to grow just about anything you need. We have a wide selection and feature LED, HID and more lights plus many extras. Check them all out online at Hydrobuilder.com.
Questions? Call 888-815-9763 or email [email protected].