What to consider when choosing your basic indoor grow setup? Read our tips here and harvest the best buds possible.
Choosing to switch from outdoor growing to a basic indoor grow setup is quite the milestone for a cannabis user. Indeed, growing outdoors – a popular choice for many – can be fairly easy if the weather is not too demanding: throw germinated seeds in some soil, water, harvest, dry, consume, repeat. This is why growers can feel overwhelmed by the difficulties that seemingly go hand in hand with indoor growing.
1. Pick a location for your indoor cannabis grow
If you want your installation to remain basic, you will need to find a space that is not too restricted. For those who don’t have much of a choice, there are options such as Screen of Green, Sea of Green and other micro grows, but those require somewhat advanced, possibly pricey hardware, in addition to potentially being time-consuming. And that’s not what we’re about here! So what should your priorities be?
Estimate the maximum amount of space your plants will need
Assess to which extent your plants are going to grow, at least approximately. This will depend on which cannabis strain you have chosen, as well as on the care you plan on giving them. Whichever spot you have in mind needs to accommodate your plants in their final form, that is, fully grown, in height and in width.
For instance, if your bathtub is large enough and you’re more of a shower person, setting up cannabis plants in one end of a bathtub is actually quite a popular choice. So read product descriptions attentively, take note of average height of your chosen cannabis strains, and whip out your measuring tape.
Decide whether your grow space will need protection from light
Regardless of whether you opt for the aforementioned bathtub, or for another corner of your home, your grow space needs to be safe from any unwanted light, especially when the flowering period comes. This means there needs to be no light whatsoever during the “dark phase” of your light cycle, including street lights coming in from windows, rays peering from under doors, etc. Closets or very small rooms with doors are very much appreciated by indoor growers.
If it turns out you don’t have much choice in the matter, you need to consider purchasing a grow tent. Several sizes exist to accommodate most basic indoor grow setups.
How many plants are you growing?
Ask yourself what is the maximum number of plants your grow room/closet/corner can contain. If you are considering buying, for instance, a pack of 10 seeds of our beautiful, bountiful Big Bud Regular, you may want to ensure that your grow space can in fact contain 10 plants. Yes, some of these seeds may not germinate, and it is unlikely all 10 seeds will produce female plants.
But what if 7 of them do, and your bathtub really is a shower cabin that can barely contain you? The cannabis community is all about sharing, and surely, someone can babysit any extra female plant you find yourself with. But if you want to keep a few seeds for next year, invest in Big Bud Feminized instead. And in general, opt for feminized seeds or automatic seeds in order to control the number of fully grown plants you will end up fostering.
2. Choose your type of indoor lighting
Indoor growing relies on providing plants with light from artificial sources. There are several types of grow lamps available to choose from. Here is what you need to keep in mind before you make your choice.
What is your honest budget?
The most cost-efficient solution for indoor grow lighting is CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp). Compared to MH (Metal-Halide) lamps, CFL lamps consume less energy, and you will also need to change bulbs less often. However, if you plan on having numerous rounds of crops per year, the difference may not necessarily be significant, especially since the use of MH lamps is much more beneficial to vegetating plants.
HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lighting, often chosen for flowering plants, provides a higher level of heat. This may or may not be an advantage depending on what your installation looks like; if your grow space is limited in terms of height, you may want to reconsider in order to ensure your plants will not suffer if too close to your lighting equipment.
If you would prefer to invest in something more expensive in order to secure functioning hardware that will not need replacing or upgrading for several seasons, LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lamps are a good way to achieve long-term savings. But beware! In this case, cheap is not necessarily a wise option. Read plenty of customer reviews before making your choice
Do you have performance requirements?
Budget is one thing, but also ensure you will not be disappointed by your purchase. CFL is the basic option; consider it the “rice and beans” of grow lighting. Beyond this, you will need to seriously consider what type of quality you expect from the final product: LED is known as somewhat of a revolution in grow lighting, so assuming the product you choose is at least in the mid-range category, your seedlings would be guaranteed a proper light cycle that is actively beneficial to plants’ growth and health.
Consider investing in a reflector
A reflector is a piece of equipment that bounces light emitted by your grow lamps towards your plants, as opposed to the (empty) sides of your grow space. It promotes brighter, more powerful lighting without any increase in consumption of electricity, or number of lamps/bulbs. Since we are aiming for a *basic* indoor grow setup, you may skip this step if the number of plants grown is low and/or proportional to the total coverage of your basic lighting equipment.
Many a grower uses CFL or MH lamps during the vegetation period, and HPS lamps during the flowering period. This is a sound choice if your budget allows it. If it doesn’t, cater your hardware purchase for the flowering period, and use it during your plants’ entire lifecycle.
Certain types of setups certainly improve the quality of your harvest, but any kind of lamp will make your plants grow and produce buds.
So don’t be scared to start from the bottom: it will give you a point of reference for your future, more advanced indoor grow setups. It will also teach you the basics of tweaking said setup, and of troubleshooting. Regarding reflectors, this does not necessarily have to be a conscious choice: look for “veg lighting kit” and/or “flowering lighting kit” for complete packages.
3. Make your basic indoor grow setup other-friendly
There are various reasons why you would want to minimize the smell of your crop – be it for the benefit of your neighbours, or your own. This is why you may want to invest in the following accessories.
A carbon filter
Grow tents can generally be fitted with an exhaust system consisting of ducting, a carbon filter, and a matching fan. The purpose is to fan out any smell emanating from your growing plants towards a safe spot – that is, not directly into someone else’s air-conditioning.
First and foremost, you need to ensure your filter and your fan have matching sizes. And once you have chosen your carbon filter, also consider the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating, i.e., the air volume shuffled by it. Both items should have the same CFM rating for optimal ventilation. But don’t lose your sleep over this; as is the case for lighting, carbon filter kits can easily be found.
Air freshening products
If you do not have the possibility to install an exhaust system on your grow space, consider palliating to the situation with air fresheners. Plenty of such products can be purchased in growshops, and are manufactured for this purpose. If you’d rather take a more natural approach, certain plants, such as lavender, can be grown in proximity to your cannabis plants (but not in the grow space itself) in order to lessen the smell factor.
4. Go with the flow
Even if your plants grow indoors, they are not safe from pests, excessive humidity, and other hazards typical to any gardening activity. Yet, there is no essential need to stock up on every single product available; just provide the best care possible to your plants, and observe their symptoms if any issue arises.
Your first indoor grow setup is important. This setup will teach you how to nurture your plants, and eventually, how to provide more and more for them, until you have reached a level of care that results in the best possible buds.
Do you have additional advice to give to anyone wanting to build their very first basic indoor grow setup? Let us know in the comments.