The Cannabis Under the Stairs
Cannabis is legal to grow in many of our United States. If you’re able to grow, you should. It is easy, fun, educational, and not very expensive. These days all the components for a successful indoor grow can be purchased without leaving the living room. Here’s an extremely quick setup guide to inspire YOU to start your first grow.
My new living situation has a great closet under the stairs. The grow box I built where I previously lived fit in there but with limited access to the rest of the closet. I was also looking for some more “head room” for my soil-grown Cannabis plants. I decided to maximize the usable space with a grow tent.
A grow tent is the perfect solution for a low impact, low cost home grow situation. Grow Tents are great for renters who wish to grow Cannabis without any effect on the property. Add the power stingy, cool running LED lights and you’ve got a stealth microfarm of your very own.
A search on eBay will cue up hundreds of indoor grow tents. These reflective foil lined thick nylon tents have large zippered doors and multiple “vent tubes” and flaps to accomodate the plants and equipment that will go inside. After measuring my closet space, I determined the tent size 48″ by 24″ by 60″ would fit perfectly. You ‘ll see multiple sizes are available so choose wisely. Check the shipping origin and try to go with a company inside the USA as it will arrive faster and any decfect/damage issues will be easier to resolve.
These tents are very easy to assemble but be sure to setup the tent in the closet. I assembled my tent outside first only to disassemble it to get it to fit in the closet. Once the tent is put together, you’ll notice straps that will enable looping over the rod where clothing is hung on hangers. This adds extra stability and takes any weight of the flimsy frame that keeps the grow tent upright.
A key environmental factor for successful indoor Cannabis growth is air quality. It is essential that a tent sysem includes a venting system that is able to “replace” the air inside every couple of minutes. With all the plant processes like photosynthesis and transpiration, fresh air with the required components including oxygen and carbon dioxide is key. Proper air replacement controls humidity and temperature as well.
The vent is attached to a carbon intake filter that helps to remove the pleasant but incriminating odor of fresh Cannabis flowers. The fan is attached to a vent (basically a 6″ PVC pipe) out of the tent through one of the vent sleeves. The sleeves are cuffs with cinch cords to snug the fabric to the vent.
Airflow is very important for the indoor grow system. The vent fan will refresh the air inside the tent but adds little actual movement of that air. Air “turbulence” strengthens the Cannabis plant’s stems, helps to disrupt pests, aids in the prevention of fungus and helps to control the tent’s air temperature. A small clip on fan (6 inch) works perfectly in a smaller grow tent with ample locations inside to clip the fan in the most effective locations. I like to move the fan around during the grow so the plants get “wind stressed” in multiple directions.
The light source is the most important component to an indoor grow. There are so many choices, it can be daunting. The development of LED (light emitting diode) grow lights has taken great leaps forward with every new version released. In my opinion, LED lights are the ONLY choice for the small indoor grow. This debate could rage on but the bottom line is longer lifespan, cheaper operation costs and lower heat during use all add up to the perfect imitation sun for the home grower. The latest in lighting, COB (Chip on Board) technology super charges the LED, producing a higher Lumen output. COB chips are built right onto the circuit board helping to make them more efficient and less likely to fail.
How much light will you need? Once you’ve calculated the square footage of the canopy area, multiply that number by 50. My tent setup has a total floor area of 8 square feet. I currently use two 180 watt LED fixures. That is a bit shy of the desired 400 watts. but it will be more than enough coverage for the 4 to 6 plants I hope to grow. Plants will still grow with insufficient light, they will just grow slower and have a smaller yield.
Any lighting choice should be made at a “brick and mortar” retailer as customer support, including the ability to quickly replace a failing unit must be considered. A helpful sales person will ensure you make the right choice considering details like wattage and spectrum ranges. LED technology is evolving so fast, I believe they will replace most other lighting options in the future.
The LED lights should be at least 8 inches from the plant. As the Cannabis grows, the lights will need to be adjusted from the plant tops. Most growers use a dangling system with ratched cams to pull the light upward with a tug of the support cables. If the plants are started with the lights too far away, the seedlings will stretch into gangling, unstable plants. If the light is too close, bud bleaching and burning will result.
LEDs do their best to mimic the properties of our Sun to promote plant growth. Like the Sun, indoor gardeners should limit their exposure of these lights on the eyes. Maybe a pair of sunglasses would help, but keeping garden visits to a minimum is also a wise choice.
Remember, the fans will make a lot of noise, so consider that before setting up in a closet next to your bed. Also, invest in a good temperature and humidity monitor as extremes of both will affect your grow. I personally like to use a system that sends the data to my phone. I use a device called SensorPush which has worked flawlessly for a year and a half. The environment inside your grow tent will be very important to you as your plants mature.
You’ve gathered your hardware and assembled your very own grow system and it didn’t break the bank! For less than 1000 dollars you’ve created a microfarm right in your own house. Now its time to consider the soil, fertilizer, pots and, of course, the seeds. But that is a post for another time.