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Expert tips on growing cannabis
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Getting started with growing cannabis

In this section we will discuss what we'll need for building a basic setup. Of course even a small budget is a budget and to get going we'll need to visit a hardware store, a garden store and some other places before we can get started growing our own cannabis. But first an important tip.

Keep it small

Tending your plants will take lots of time. When you're just in it for the fun, don't put more then ten in a room. This saves on workload, fertiliser and electricity for lamps and fans. We have seen lots of novice growers bite off more than they could chew. In the end it cost them a lot of money, in the worst cases it cost them a trip to the judge. Keep it small and you'll have more fun.

Try keeping it small!
Try keeping it small, save some energy!

First and foremost: a shopping list

Below is a list of the most important items we'll need to get started. Without these we'll be lost. Find out where to get them, save up and get them all. Remember to compare prices!

The bare essentials for even a ten plant set up are still as follows:

  • A good and strong light source suitable for indoor gardening. Get the cheapest you can get your hands on, but make sure it is a special lamp for growing plants. Read the lighting section below. If you need any extension cord, be sure to get some good thick cord that can handle the wattage.
  • A carbon filter and tube ventilator. These are to keep the smell of the plants hidden and the temperature stable. What you need depends on your distance to any neighbour and the amount of plants you grow. Check the ventilation section.
  • A timer switch to switch the lights on and off. We need to simulate day and night at will, so make sure you can set it to go on and off every 24 hours. Also check that the maximum wattage for the switch is well above the total wattage of all your lights.
  • A tube light. Any ordinary TL of "Cool White" colour.
  • Some cotton wool or tissues, a small dish and some plastic wrap from your kitchen.
  • A thermometer. Find one for outdoor use that tells highs and lows so you can see what the weather was inside the house when you were asleep.
  • Some small pots, about the size of your fist, preferable black plastic ones, since they don't dry out as fast and absorb more heat. Buy one for every plant.
  • Some big pots, about 7 litre size, again the black plastic ones. Also some trays to put under them to prevent leaking. Buy one set for every plant.
  • Soil. Just your ordinary basic soil for potted plants will do fine to start with. Get enough to fill all your pots.
  • A bunch of these bamboo sticks for use in the garden. They will keep your plants facing up when the budds are pulling them down. We will do the tying with some thin rope or these wire things you get for closing your garbage bags. How are they called anyway.
  • A watering-can. Think big, about 10 liters at least. It's a drag to mix up the fertiliser ten times over during one watering.
  • A spray-bottle to spray your plants leafs with water. They will love you for it. You could pick one up at any gardening store.
  • A simple fan. Just the desk type fan for hotter days. If it swings that's good, if it does not that's also fine.
  • Simple liquid fertilizer from your local garden store. A can of any type as long as it has the famous "7-5-6" proportion of 7% nitrogen (N), 5% Phosphate (P2O5), 6% Potash (K2O).
  • Some thick dark plastic sheet to keep the light out of your room. When we say lights out we mean lights out!
  • A roll of duck tape. Have you ever had a shoppinglist without this item?
  • Last but not least, the cannabis seeds or young plants (seedlings). These are the lead characters in the play of course. They need to be loved, pampered and most of all fed every other day at least.
  • Heavy stuff

    Most of the stuff in the list above you can find in any garden store or DIY shop, but the first few might only be available at a specialized growshop. The lights and ventilation system form the heart of your bioshpere experiment. They are also the costly items and we think you can not do without them. Besides being expensive, they also weigh quite a lot and need to be suspended or placed correctly. It's hard to advise you on this without knowing the situation. Just take it easy and make a good plan.

    Lighting

    As we are going to simulate sunlight, and our plants are not easily fooled, we need quite a bit of power and all the colors of the light spectrum we can get. 400W or 600W HPS lamps (High-pressure Sodium) have for years been the usual choice, but in recent years there has been some progress with LED lighting for growing. The color spectrum of the light is extremely imortant for plants to be able to both grow and flower. Check that the light will both stimulate growth and flowering of your plants. There have been problems with LED in the past as the color spectrum of the early models missed parts of the spectrum and the lights overheated making the devides malfunction. If you do choose LED be sure to get a system with a 7 color spectrum and an integrated cooling system.

    An HPS light usually comes in a set with a bulb, reflector and electrical ballast (power supply) and will set you back around 200,- or $ 270.- in a local growshop. They come in 400 watt and 600 watt or even 1000 watt versions. LED lights come in various wattage, prices ranging from 150,- ($ 200.-) to 350,- ($ 470.-) per set.

    Now on the amount of light we will need. I have seen very good results (around 35gr per plant) with a single 400 watt HPS light above about ten plants on some two square meters. Some of our experts say you need twice that light on such a surface, and they might be right if you want maximum yield, but there we go with the space race again. A 600 Watt HPS light set is costly and running a good bunch of 600 watt lights 18 hours a day can raise your electricity bill substantially. HPS bulbs only last for a few years and are quite costly to replace. Take it easy, keep it small. This is where LED lights might be a good solution. These type of sets are more expensive then HPS lights but use half the energy for the same light and last for some 50.000 hours.

    More on lighting in the expert growing section.

    Ventilation

    If you are planning to grow more then a few plants you might want to consider the wonderfull smell they will spread during the blooming phase. Many a neighbour has rung the bell to get in on this cool party that seemed to be going on next door.. Our advice: if you can't keep it simple, use a filter. A carbon filter, to be exact. Our plants need plenty of fresh air and the neighbour needs fresh air as well, so we filter the smell of our plants by pushing it through a heap of carbon grit with a tube ventilator. You can get can-type carbon filters in any growshop. They last a few years and are reasonably cheap. To push the air through the filter you will need a tube ventilator. Then you need to connect these two with some tube or just a bunch of tape.

    The idea is to bring fresh air into the room where you will be growing your plants by pushing out the used air from the room. The easiest way to achieve this is to suck the air from the room and push it out of the house through a ventilation roster or window via the carbon filter to remove any odours. The pressure difference will pull air from your house into the room through any gaps between doors, etc. You can also recycle the air from the room back into your house via the carbon filter. In that case make sure the air inlet is as far away as possible from the exhaust. If your exhaust leads out of the house, check regularly for odours. Besides getting rid of smells and providing your plants with fresh air this system will also prevent heat from the lights from building up in the room. Don't bring in any outside air if the temperature goes below 20C in your area.

    For a ten plant setup with a single light you can get by with the cheapest tube or snail ventilator and carbon filter. Ventilator and filter need to be around the same capacity, preferably the filter should be slightly bigger. Ventilators of around 300 M3 per hour will cost you about 50,- ($ 70.-) while a carbon filter of the same capacity will set you back about 80 ,- ($ 110.-). Do look into getting a dimmer switch for regulating the ventilator to keep the noise to a minimum and temperature stable. An off the shelf dimmer with sufficient wattage will do the trick just fine.

    More on ventilation in the expert growing section.

    On a shoestring

    If you will have to grow your own on a small budget, there is still a lot you can do. Most of the information above is intended to give you a pretty good yield and boost your plants as much as is possible while still taking it easy. But there are some more corners to cut.

    Outdoor Gardening: A more natural form of indoor gardening
    You might be living in one of those countries that actually has long warm summers. And you might have a garden with a quiet area in some corner or a balcony. So why not plant your seeds where they love to live? The outdoors! Your yield might be a bit smaller depending on the weather, it might take a little longer for the plants to flower and you might have some bugs eating around, but you will need almost no equipment, no fertilizer and you will have a set of solar powered plants. Be sure to keep the kids from next door out of the yard, though!

    The window sill
    Do you have a window that faces the sun? Why not start very small (depending on the size your window sill, ofcourse) and put your plants there. Make some good use of that old lightbulb in the sky that would otherwise just be bleaching your curtains. You will need a substantial amount of light for a reasonable crop, though. And keep an eye on the temperature.

    These should be big!
    These should be big!

    Taking care of the plants

    Now we have our materials, let's find out how to tend to our indoor garden the Easy way!






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