Grow Guide for the Urban Toker
CANNABIS CULTURE – It is no surprise that enthusiasts across the country are looking for ways to establish their own grow operation. Good news is, you don’t need acres of land or a massive warehouse to grow your own crop. Today we’re going to teach you how to establish your own grow operation in your urban dwelling.
There are a variety of options for urban residents who are looking to start their own grow. However, two of the most common variations for individuals growing in an urban setting are grow tents and grown cabinets.
Variables to Consider:
Maintain a sanitized environment for your plants is essential, so ensuring that you have easy-to-clean surfaces within your grow is key. The more difficult it is to clean and disinfect your grow space, the more likely it will be that you will encounter issues that could lead to serious problems within your grow.
Another crucial element to have is a controlled environment where you can keep your plants in complete darkness. Your plants will need 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day. During the 12 hours of darkness, it is crucial that no light whatsoever leaks into the grow space. If that is to occur, it can lead to stress within the plants which could result in a lower quality or quantity when it comes time to harvest.
An important aspect of a successful grow is being able to continually check on and maintain your plants. Especially when you’re first getting started, you’re going to want to be able to check on them periodically throughout the day to ensure everything’s running smoothly. That being said, you’re going to want to make sure your grow is easy to access. Otherwise you’re going to make the whole process much more difficult for yourself.
Temperature & Humidity
The ideal conditions for having a grow would be to have a cool, dry environment with plenty of fresh air. You’re going to want to be able to keep a controlled environment with consistent temperatures so that your plants can flourish. If you live in a space that is either very warm or humid, you’re already going to experience difficulties in trying to maintain the consistent conditions you desire.
Whether it be a landlord, roommate, or a potential thief, the odds are that you are going to want to make your grow discrete so that it doesn’t attract any unwanted attention. To maintain the inconspicuousness that you desire, it is essential that you set up your grow in a well-hidden location within your residence. Also, you’re probably going to want to make sure you have substantial ventilation so that the smell of your plants doesn’t attract any attention either.
Step 1: Designate your Grow Area
The first step of starting your grow is designating a room or space for your operation. If you’re using a pre-purchased grow tent or a grow cabinet, then all you’ll need is to find a space within your home or apartment to set it up. However, if you’re building your own setup, then you’re going to need to find a space that will be compatible with the dimensions you’re working with. There is no need to feel overwhelmed though, because you can tailor your grow to fit anywhere from a basement or bedroom, to a closet or a cabinet.
Sidenote: It is best to start off small with your first grow. Smaller grows will require less of an initial investment, will be easier to maintain, and will pose less of a financial risk if something is to go wrong. It isn’t uncommon for setbacks such as disease or pests to occur when you’re first getting into growing, so it’s better to start small and gradually increase the scale of your grow. It’s much less of a headache to lose one or two plants early on than ten or twenty.
Step 2: Pick your Lighting
The type of lighting that you decide to utilize for your grow will be one of the most important factors in determining the quality and quantity of your grow. There are a variety of options for lighting, the most popular of which being HID, Fluorescent, and LED.
HID (High-Intensity Discharge)
HID lighting has become an industry standard due to its noteworthy efficiency, value, and output. They are slightly more expensive than fluorescent lights, but they are more efficient for the amount of lighting they produce. They aren’t as efficient as LED lights though, but they also are a fraction of the price. Two main types of HID lights that are used for grows: Metal Halide (MH) and High-Pressure Sodium (HPS). Metal Halide lights are more commonly used during the growth stage, while High-Pressure Sodium are usually used for the flowering stage. An important detail to note for HID lights is that each light requires a ballast and reflector/hood. There are two main types of ballasts: magnetic and digital.
Fluorescent lights are also a very popular lighting choice for indoor grows, the most popular of which being the high-output (HO) T5 bulbs. These specific bulbs are favored due to their cheaper setup cost and the fact that they don’t require a cooling system due to the lower amount of heat generated from use. However, fluorescent lights are less efficient than some of the other popular lighting options and also require a large amount of space.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting has only recently been utilized for indoor grow operations, but they have become incredibly popular due to their efficiency. However, the main downside about LED lighting is its cost; some LED fixtures can cost up to ten times what a comparable HID system would. If you’re willing to spend the extra money though, LED systems are extremely favored because of their durability, their ability to generate a full spectrum of light, and for generating less heat than other popular lighting systems.
Step 3: Give your Plants Air.
Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide are essential for your plants to go through photosynthesis, so ensuring that you have some form of an exhaust system is crucial. Furthermore, having an exhaust system provides the benefits of removing warm air from your growing environment. Typically, you’re going to want to maintain a temperature between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit when your lights are on, and range between 58-70 degrees when the lights are off. That temperate range might vary depending on what type of strain you are growing, but typically most varieties tend to stay within that range. Regarding exhaust, the size of whatever fan you use will depend on the scale of your grow, but you’ll also want to take into consideration how much heat your lighting emits when determining how much ventilation you’ll need.
It is also advised to keep a constant breeze in your grow if possible since it helps strengthen your plant’s stems and keep away pests. Anything as simple as a common circulating fan can be used to accomplish this, just make sure it isn’t directly facing your plants as to avoid potentially causing windburn.
Step 4: Choose your Monitoring System.
Once you have selected your choice of lighting and ventilation, you’ll want to have a means of automating them. Although there are expensive, high-tech units available that can control everything from humidity to lighting and carbon dioxide levels, that isn’t necessary for your first at-home grow operation. A beginner to intermediate grower will be able to get by with just a simple adjustable thermostat switch for the exhaust and a basic 24-hour timer for the lighting. As previously mentioned, maintaining a consistent light/dark cycle is incredibly important, your plants are going to want 16 to 20 hours of light when they are in vegetative growth and 12 hours when they are in the midst of flower growth. Although you can control your lights manually, it is worth spending the extra couple dollars to invest in a timer. You could also use a timer for your ventilation as well. However, it is much better to obtain a thermostat switch.
Step 5: Choose your Growing Medium.
When growing indoors, you are presented with a variety of options in regards to how you decide to approach your operation. Although there are a vast array of options, the two most typical approaches are soil-based and hydroponic systems.
Soil is by far the most popular growing medium for indoor Cannabis growers. Additionally, it is also the most forgiving, which makes it an ideal medium for first-time growers. The best kind of soil to use is any organic pre-fertilized soil, which can be used without the need for any additional nutrients if used correctly. Alternatively, you can also use a regular soil mix and just periodically supplement your plants with liquid nutrients as they gradually are depleted.
Although soil is still the most common medium for indoor grows, hydroponic systems have grown increasingly more popular in recent years. Hydroponic systems have the benefit of faster nutrient intake for the plants, which results in faster growth and larger yields but they also require a greater amount of monitoring and precision. Hydroponics involves utilizing the process of osmosis to have your plants absorb nutrient solutions through a soilless feeding system. Your system can either be automated, or you can opt for a manual hand-watered system. When using a hydroponic system, you can choose to make your own soilless mix for your plants, or you can acquire a store-bought soilless mix.
Step 6: Provide plants with Nutrients.
To maximize the quality and quantity of your yield, it is important that you provide your plants with the nutrients they need. Although general fertilizer isn’t a bad way to get started, there are a few specific key nutrients that your plants will need, known as macronutrients. These nutrients include Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus. Additionally, your plants will need micronutrients as well, just in smaller amounts in comparison to the macronutrients. These micronutrients are: Calcium, Copper, Iron, and Magnesium.
Most macronutrients are sold as two-part liquid solutions, so you’ll need to get two bottles of macronutrients for your grow along with a bottle of micronutrients. These solutions are meant to be mixed with water. Typically, there are different solutions for vegetative growth and flower growth, so you’ll likely have to get macronutrients solutions for both. Once you’ve purchased your nutrients, you’ll want to mix them with water and add them to the soil. It is recommended to start off with a half-strength nutrient mixture, in order to avoid accidentally burning your plants from having a mixture with too high of a nutrient concentration.
Step 7: Water & Maintain your Plants.
It is recommended that growers use filtered water when feeding their plants, due to the high concentrations of minerals or chlorine that is present in the water in certain areas. Aside from using filtered water, it is also important to ensure that you do not overwater your plants. Overwatering is not only a common mistake amongst new growers, but it can also potentially lead to fungal root disease. The exact amount of how much water to provide your plants will vary depending on the plant size, the temperature within the growing environment, and the type of growing medium being used.
Over time, you will modify your growing environment and equipment to adapt to the circumstances of your grow. You’ll find that you’ll likely be tweaking the conditions based upon the strains you’re growing and which growing techniques you’re utilizing. Gradually, you’ll find yourself able to adapt your grow to best cater to your plant’s needs and you will become more knowledgeable as you gain more experience. If you ever find yourself encountering any specific issues with your grow, there are a multitude of resources you can refer to that will be able to provide insight and advice on how to combat whatever issue you may be facing.