Setting up your grow area doesn’t need to be hard. Whether you’re using a room, tent or just an area of a room, there are basic components that need to be included. Some components needed for your grow room are:
- Light & Timer (depending on type, this could include a ballast and hood reflector)
- Pots/Containers filled with growing medium & ready for plants
- Surge protector with multiple electrical outlets
- 1-2 Small fans
- Exhaust fan, ducting, fan controller & carbon filter (optional, unless you are using a high heat light)
- Thermometer/Hygrometer (optional but beneficial to have)
- pH pen or pH testing kit (optional but important)
- Small room humidifier (optional)
- Small heater (optional but useful for lights out)
- Dehumidifier (optional & only really needed during the end of flowering)
- Air conditioner (optional & only if needed)
- Light & Timer
Setting up your light is very easy. For CFLs & LEDs, simply plug the cord in and you’re done. For MH/HPS lights, it’s slightly different but just as easy. You plug the light fixture into the ballast and then the ballast cord into the outlet. Before plugging in your light to the timer, you need to set the timer. Setting the timer will vary depending if you have a manual or digital timer. But basically you want to create your light schedule. Most commonly, 18 hours on & 6 hours off is used for vegetation or autoflowers but other schedules used include, 20-4 or 24 hours of light. While a 12 hours on & 12 hours off schedule is used for flowering photoperiod plants. Once your timer is set, simply plug your light into the timer and plug the timer into the outlet.
Setup for your pots is a very straight forward one. What growing medium you’re using will determine how you set up your pot. If using pre-mixed soil, all you need to do is fill your pots and you’re done. If you’re using soil or coco coir that needs to be amended or fertilized first. Then, amend/fertilize the soil/coco coir prior to filling the pots. For DWC/hydro, the pots/containers need a soilless mix of some kind in the part where the plants will be. And they need to be placed into a reservoir of water connected to the water system. Once the pots are filled and ready, you can move to the next part of setup.
It is a necessity to have a good multi-outlet surge protector for your grow area. This will protect your equipment from potentially damaging power surges. Simply plug it in and then plug your other equipment into it.
Still air is a Cannabis plants enemy. You always want to have some air movement in your grow area. If using a hot light or grow tent, you’ll also want to have an exhaust fan/carbon filter. This will help remove hot air from the grow room & replace it with cooler, fresh air. Installing the exhaust fan & carbon filter will vary depending if you’re using a tent or room but the basics are the same.
If using a tent, you need to set up an air intake, to intake fresh air from outside the tent bringing it in. This is usually put at a lower location as hot air rises so it’s easier to vent hot air out from higher up. Next, you have to attach the exhaust fan to the carbon filter and install it at the opposite end of the tent than the intake. It is installed near the top of the tent as stated earlier to make it easier to remove the hot air. You have to use ducting to bring that hot air to a window to vent. You will also have to plug in the fan controller to the fan so you can control the fan speed.
Now, even if you don’t need an exhaust fan, you will want to have at the very least, one fan to move the air around but 2 fans is best. It is recommended to have one fan below the canopy and one above to give the plants maximum air flow. These fans can be oscillating or stationary and can be 6″ to 12″. For the fans, simply plug in to outlet and they’re ready to be used.
To ensure that you maintain a consistent environment for your plants, it’s a good idea to buy a thermometer/hygrometer. This handy device will help you to monitor your temperature and relative humidity in your grow room. They are relatively cheap and easy to find locally or online. Although it’s not necessarily needed, I highly recommend having one for your grow. It takes the guessing out of whether or not you’re providing the plants with the optional environment. They don’t require any special set up and can be put anywhere in your grow room.
Whether you get a liquid ph tester kit or a pH pen, it’s a good idea to pH balance your water before giving it to your plants. The pH testing kit is cheaper but won’t give you a specific reading but a rough estimate. The pH pen on the other hand, will give you an exact reading. It costs more and needs to be calibrated regularly. There’s special calibration liquid that you need to buy as well. With either method of testing the pH, you may need a pH up or pH down.
You can also use lemon juice as a pH down and baking soda as a pH up. It isn’t absolutely necessary but I think it is a key part of creating the optimal environment for your plants growth. When you pH balance your water, you should try to create a range of slightly different pH readings as different nutrients are absorbed at different pH levels. Growing mediums also make a difference.
Ideal pH levels for each medium are:
- Soil – 6.0 – 7.0
- Hydroponics/Soilless Medium/Coco Coir – 5.5 – 6.5
Controlling the temperature & humidity
Ideal temperatures for your plants are dependent on the stage of life they’re in. During the seedling stage, the plants prefer slightly warmer temperatures then during the rest of vegetation. Once they get a little older, they grow well in slightly cooler temperatures. During lights out/night, the plants prefer it 5°-10° cooler. This is especially important during flowering. Some strains need a bit cooler than 10° difference to bring out colours.
Ideal temperature ranges for:
- Vegetation – 70°-85°F/20°-30°C
- Flowering – 65°-80°F/18°-26°C
Here are some devices used for controlling temperature in your grow and their uses:
- Use to maintain warmer temperature during germination/seedling stages
- Use to maintain temperature during lights
- Use to maintain cooler temperatures in grow room due to hot lights
- Use to create cooler temperatures during late flower
Cannabis plants also prefer different levels of humidity depending on their stage in life. Seedlings prefer higher humidity to grow faster but once they get a little older, they can tolerate lower humidity within the ideal range. Towards the end of flowering, some growers try to get their humidity down under 40% using a dehumidifier to cause increased resin production. I personally tried this during my first grow and got very resinous buds. But, the dehumidifier does increase the temperature of the grow room.
Ideal humidity levels for:
- Vegetation – 40%-60% (up to 70% during the first few weeks of vegetation)
- Flowering – 40%-50%
- Last few weeks of flowering – <40%
Here is a list of devices used to control your grow rooms humidity levels & their uses:
- Raise humidity for the germination/seedling stages
- Raise humidity if your grow room isn’t within the ideal range
- Lower humidity during flowering especially the last few weeks
- Lower humidity if your grow room is too humid
- Grow room/grow tent cleanliness
Grow room Cleanliness
It’s worth mentioning that you should always keep your grow room or tent clean to prevent pests and mold. Cleaning your grow area prior to growing is a great practice to follow, as well as a regular regimen of at least once a month. I like to use the Honest Company multi-surface cleaner because it’s all natural. You can also use tarps on the floor of a grow room to protect from spills and overflow.
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