Setting up your grow space

Grow Spaces

Growing the perfect plant is an art form, but setting up the perfect grow room is purely science.
The area you grow your plants in can be as simple as a hole in the ground or as complex as a dedicated grow room with air filtration, temperature and humidity control. How you decide to grow your plant is usually dependent on the amount of time, space, and of course, money you can invest in your plants' success. No matter the environment you grow in, your results depend on making sure your plants are protected and have what they need to flourish.

Control the Environment

The first commandment of growing indoors is to control the environment. You are pushing your plants to the limits, so you need to make sure they are in a safe environment free of bugs, mold, fungus, disease, unwanted pollen, rot, etc. Your plants need lots of oxygen in the root zone and lots of CO2 for the leaves. Your growing medium, water, and nutrients need to maintain a consistent temperature and pH balance. Your plants need lots of intense light when they're awake and complete darkness when they're asleep.

Ideal environmental specs at a glance
Climate Temperature Range  70-80° F. during light,  64-71° F. during dark
Root Zone Temperature
68° F.
Water/Nutrient Solution Temp   66-71° F.
Grow Room Humidity
Veg: 40-65%,  Flower: 40-60% 
Light Cycles   Veg: 18 hours on, 6 off;   Flower: 12 on, 12 off
Ideal CO2 Concentration
1500 parts per million (normal air is 400 ppm)
Air Circulation   1 medium size oscillating fan for every three 1000 watt lights
Air Exchange
Totally exchange air every 5 minutes
Ideal Ph of Nutrient Solution   5.8 - 6.3 (slightly acidic)

Location, location, location.
One of the first decisions when deciding to grow indoors is where to set up your operation. There are lots of variables, but don't underestimate the importance of having access to water and a drain. You'll be needing a lot of water and lugging that heavy stuff around can get old fast.

One of the biggest concerns when choosing a location is temperature variance. Plants need consistent temperatures, especially on their roots. make sure you are setting up your grow room in a location that won't have huge temperature variations from day to night. This is why basements and closets are a very popular option for many home growers.

If you are growing high-value crops, it's often beneficial to make sure you are growing in a safe and secure location. Even if not, you don't want curious people or children messing with your plants, especially while they are supposed to be sleeping. Stray light can confuse the plants and cause mutations in the flowers or delays in their maturation.

There' s a lot to control. Get a tent.

Gorilla Grow Tents It seems like a lot to account for, but there's an easy solution to most of these issues. A tent. Grow tents come in every size imaginable from a simple 2'x2.5' tent that's ideal for a few plants, to a 10'x20' or even larger that will house a whole grow room. They are already clean, sterile environments that are specifically designed to handle your air exchange and lighting needs. They are perfectly engineered growing environments. 

You can find cheap tents on the internet, but you'll be buying them all the time and won't be very happy with their performance. Spending a few extra dollars on a higher quality tent made by a reputable manufacturer wont' break the budget and will more than pay for itself in performance and durability.

Russ carries a wide range of high quality grow tents to fit any budget or space constraint. However, Russ' favorite is the Gorilla Grow Tent . You get all steel frame construction, heavy duty walls with industrial zippers, 360 degree access to the interior on certain models, an extra foot of height adjustment, and their Diamond Reflection Technology on the walls which redistributes up to 30% more lumens than their competitors. It's the last grow tent you'll ever need to buy.

Building a Dedicated Grow Room 

If you have the space to create a dedicated grow room, you can do amazing things! Before you start construction, diagram out your grow room, including all active grow areas, so you know your square footages and the cubic feet of air in the space. You'll need these to figure out how many lights you'll need and how to properly ventilate the space.

Step 1: Seal the room.
Use drywall tape & mud, spray foam, caulk, duct tape, weather seal, paper mache, or whatever it takes to seal out contaminants. We don't want any holes or gaps under that Panda Film we're about to install.

Step 2: Panda Film
Panda Film (or similar product) is waterproof, 90% light reflective to help spread light to the lower sections of your plants, and helps provide an additional air seal to your grow room.

Step 3: Calculate your lighting.
Giving your plant the proper spectrum of light is important, but giving it the proper intensity of light is even more so. Make sure your light is designed for the size of your growing space and can penetrate through the top canopy to nourish your whole plant. Most grow bulbs will give you specs that you can use to determine if it's right for your grow space.

The general rule is that you want 50-75 Watts per square foot of canopy. Shoot for 65W per foot with traditional HID lamps like HPS or MH. One 400 watt HPS bulb is adequate for about 10 square feet. One 1000 watt HPS bulb can cover about 20 feet.

This formula doesn't work for LEDs or even CMH lamps as they use much less power. In this case, you're going to want to need a simple light meter to measure the lumen output at the canopy level. Your goal is 3000 lumens or LUX across the entire canopy.

Light hangers allow you to easily adjust the height of your light so that they can always stay at the optimum distance from your plants as they grow. This keeps the intensity up and maximizes the effectiveness of your grow lamp, while keeping it far enough away that it doesn't burn the canopy. The correct distance depends on the type of light you use.

More on choosing the right light

Step 4: HVAC
This can get complicated. Basically, you want to constantly move the air with fans and keep your temperatures as consistent as possible.
Remember to account for the extra heat produced from your lights and other equipment. Heat is the biggest problem most growers have to overcome when building their grow room. Keep it consistently around 70° degrees to keep plants happy.

On top of temperature, you have to account for humidity. Your plants like a lot of humidity (60-70%) in the first few weeks, and not a lot (40%) in the last few weeks. You want to gradually reduce the humidity as the plants mature. You can use air conditioning or just forced air exchange to accomplish all of this, depending on your situation.

Step 5: Keep it clean!
Bad sanitation quietly destroys equipment and yields. Be sure to use an intake filter on fresh air to keep out bugs, dust, pollen and other unwanted contaminants. Clean up and remove dead plant matter, which are a breeding ground for pests and disease. Clean bulbs and glass reflectors once a week. Dirty bulbs are less efficient and burn out faster than clean ones. Inspect and clean your whole system  between grow cycles (or every 2 months). This includes not only the obvious parts or your hydroponics system, but also ballasts, dehumidifiers, fans, heaters, air conditioners, CO2 emitters, etc.