THESE ARE FIVE THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO HAVE SET UP PROPERLY BEFORE YOU START YOUR GROW
You have finally decided you want to grow your own plants indoors. You may have even been convinced of the benefits of a grow tent and decided it’s worth a shot. But what else do you need and how does it need to be set up? You are right to wonder, and right to seek advice because an improperly set up grow space could be problematic for both your plants and your household. Without the right layout for your grow space you can slow the growth potential of your plants - and weak plants are much more prone to disease and other problems. Also, without the right equipment you could also be welcoming harmful airborne contaminants into your household, like black mold for instance. Worry not though, this article is meant to ‘clear the air’ on these issues (pun intended). The following paragraphs will outline what equipment you will need in your grow tent, and how it should be set up for optimal results and safety.
The first thing to address is your grow tent. Make sure that it is set up in a place with lots of airflow. Your passive air inlets should be free from any surrounding impediments so clean fresh air can enter the tent as needed. The exhaust vents at the top of your tent should not be impeded either, and optimally, whether using an LED, CFL or HID lighting setup, your tent should have an inline fan and carbon filter system that leads to a window and outside of the house. We will get into more on fans and carbon filters shortly, but for now let’s focus on the location of your tent in your house. The importance of access to clean fresh air and a clear exhaust outlet can’t be overlooked. Aside from light and water, good air circulation is a vital component to the health of your plants. Without this aspect you may as well have the boat and rod to go fishing, but no bait. The point being, it will take a lot longer to produce results (yields), if it produces any worthwhile results at all. Therefore, choose an appropriate sized tent and location for your grow space. Your yields will depend on it. The best tent and light kits for your dollar are FourBudz grow kits.
Now that you have your tent set up, its time to set up your lighting system. How far you place your lights from your plants will depend on the type of lighting you have, what stage of growth they are in, and what you are growing. Make sure your lighting setup comes with adjustable pull ropes to make last minute distance adjustments easily, and as necessary. Hanging your light the appropriate distance from your plants is important for several reasons. If it is too far, your plants could not be getting enough light and it will stunt their growth. This could also lead to a common gardening issue during the seedling stage of growth, referred to as ‘stretching.’ During the flowering stage, lights placed too far from your plant canopy will result in smaller yields. Alternatively, if the light is too close, especially in the case of HID lighting, this can burn your plant, causing it to discolour and wilt.
The distance your lights should be from your plants will vary depending on whether you are using CFL, HID of LED lighting. For CFL lighting, try to keep your lights around 4-5 inches from your plant, and surround the plant with light from all angles if possible. This is because CFL lighting is typically not strong enough to penetrate the plant canopy, so placing it in and around bud sites will promote growth in these areas faster.
For HID lighting, distance will vary slightly depending on wattage and growth stage but try to abide by two basic rules: (a) do not use HID lighting during the seedling stage and (b) use the hand test. This means holding your hand directly above your plant canopy for 8-12 seconds. If your hand starts to burn, it likely means your plants are burning as well and you need to move up your light. For LED lighting, distances will vary depending on manufacturers and models. I recommend FourBudz LED lights, which should be kept 22-24 inches from seedlings, 18-20 inches from plant canopy during vegetative growth, and 12-18 inches during the flowering stage.
Your next step is to create airflow within the tent. This requires an inline fan and oscillating fan. For best results, try to place your oscillating fan inside the tent near the passive air inlet on the opposite side of your inline fan. This will force air into your tent and will have to circulate the entire tent before exiting through the exhaust vent. Depending on how big your grow space is, you may consider having two oscillating fans. One would be placed near the bottom of the tent beside the passive air inlet and the other should be gently rustling the tips of your plants. This fan location is much more vital as it forces your plants to grow a stronger base to handle the rustling from the fan. Be sure that if you set your fan up this way it is not constantly pointed at the plants. Oscillating is okay, but a fan pointed at your plants consistently can lead to wind burn. So to recap, an investment in two oscillating fans is optimal- one at the roots of your plants near the passive air inlet, and the second on the opposite side of the tent rustling the leaves at the top of your plant canopy. An inline fan is also a great and often mandatory idea as well. This ensures the heat given off by your light fixture exits the tent efficiently and keeps a good temperature for growing. It is also a catalyst for new air to enter the tent and used air to retreat. As long as your inline fan is going, your plants are being provided with a constant supply of air desperately needed for their feeding cycle.
Once your fans are set up, its time to connect your carbon filter to your inline fan. You can either connect your filter directly to your fan and connect ducting from there, or have a small line of ducting connecting the two pieces of equipment. Either way, your exhaust air will be scrubbed clean of any airborne contaminants and odors before it exits the filter. Depending on where your exhaust vent leads and what you are growing, this is an important component to your grow tent setup. A carbon filter takes care of any contaminants that may be a byproduct of your growing environment, as humid, wet conditions are often an open invitation for mold and mildew. A carbon filter will ensure that the air being pumped out of your tent and in effect though your household, is clean of any contaminants. Also, while it is cleaning the air it is eliminating any odors that could be emanating within your tent as well! Make sure this piece of equipment is set up to a ducting system that leads to your inline fan and out through the exhaust vent in the tent.
A final and often overlooked piece of equipment for your grow space is a thermo hygrometer. For the price, this is one of the best purchases you will make for your grow tent. What you are growing will require certain environmental conditions to thrive. This means an optimal temperature and humidity range for the best yields. Without this device much of the work you do with your plants will be guesswork. If there is an issue that needs to be resolved for instance, often this data can help to determine what the issue is- and outright avoid it in the first place. Just be careful where you put it in the tent. If it is too close to your lights the heat from your lights could be giving an inaccurate reading. On the other hand if it is on the floor, this will only give you information about the temperature and humidity surrounding your plants roots. If you don’t mind doing so, consider buying a few of these cheap tools and place them at intervals up to the canopy of your plants. If not, rotate where you place it, keeping an eye that nothing else has changed in the grow space. Of course your safest bet is to just spend the extra $10-20 and get two. For more on where to set up a thermo hygrometer in your grow space read my article on the same topic by clicking here.
So now that you know how to set up your grow tent, it’s time to get all the proper equipment to make your plants thrive! Check out my equipment recommendations page, or click here for a comparison of the best grow space equipment on the market. And as always, happy growing!
MAKE YOUR GROW TENT CLEAN AND ODOR FREE BY PROPERLY SETTING UP A CARBON FILER AND INLINE FAN SYSTEM.
When growing indoors there can often be some unwanted odors and potential contaminant issues that can cause health concerns for both you and your plants. Both these issues can be addressed by installing a carbon filter and inline fan system in your grow tent. A proactive and clean garden will typically take care of the mold and mildew contaminant issues, though not everyone is this diligent. Therefore, an inline fan and carbon filter are often necessary. But how do you set it up properly to ensure it is cleaning the air the way it is supposed to?
There are actually a few ways to set up a carbon filter and fan in your grow tent depending on what your grow needs are. I will review the common layouts, and explain which option is best and why.
METHOD 1: INSTALL BOTH FAN & FILTER INSIDE GROW TENT
Directions: Attach the filter to one side of the tent, and the fan to the other side near the exhaust port. Run ducting from the filter to the fan, then from the fan to outside of the tent. Ensure the fan is pulling air from inside the tent outside.
METHOD 2: INSTALL FILTER INSIDE & FAN OUTSIDE GROW TENT
Directions: Attach the filter to the inside of your tent near the exhaust port. Run ducting from the filter through the exhaust port to the fan outside of the tent. Ensure the fan is pulling air from inside the tent outside.
METHOD 3: INSTALL FAN INSIDE & FILTER OUTSIDE GROW TENT
Directions: Attach the fan to the inside of your tent near the exhaust port. Run ducting from the fan through the exhaust port to the filter outside of the tent. Ensure the fan is pulling air from inside the tent outside.
METHOD 4: INSTALL BOTH FAN & FILTER OUTSIDE GROW TENT
Directions: Affix ducting to the top of your grow tent near the exhaust port. Run the ducting from inside the grow tent through the exhaust port to the fan outside of the tent. Attach the filter to the fan, and ensure the fan is pulling air from inside the tent outside.
Which carbon filter setup is best? While any of these setups will have the same desired effect, the first setup is the best choice. The reason for this is because the first setup ensures the fan is securely fastened to the tent frame to reduce noise and vibration, and ensures stability. Secondly, most inline fans on the market today state in their manual that the air entering the fan must be filtered to avoid damage or increased wear and tear long term. Third, this option also keeps all the ducting and equipment primarily inside the tent, reducing the amount of space required to grow while keeping your grow environment looking clean and sleek.
Now you are ready to install your carbon filter and inline fan! Be sure to check out my equipment recommendations page for the best grow products out there. Buy what you need now, and start growing today!
USING LIGHT SPECTRUM FOR HIGHER YIELDS, HIGHER POTENCY AND BETTER LOOKING, TASTING AND SMELLING BUDS.
While there is still many unknowns about cannabis and cannabinoids due to its prohibition and lack of studies as a result, more and more studies about its growth patterns and optimal conditions have been popping up in the past 10-15 years. The result of this gathered information brings forward an issue that has long been recognized by cannabis growers - most grow lights and the spectrum ranges they offer force a trade off between dense high yielding buds that are average in their look, smell and cannabinoid density, or average yielding buds that are beautiful, fragrant, and can have up to 30% more cannabinoid density. In this article I will outline (a) the benefits of different ranges of light on cannabis plants, (b) grow lights, optimal yield results, and the spectrum trade off, and (c) what lights offer the best buds in terms of yield, look, potency, taste and smell. By the end of the article you will know what you need to do to optimize both flower growth and cannabinoid density in order to grow top shelf dispensary level buds.
A. The Benefits Of Different Spectrum Ranges On Cannabis Plants
The following paragraph may be a lot for some readers, but hang in there, I’ll summarize!
Yellow and white light is a commonly used light range for growing plants in general, and in cannabis this spectrum range promotes germination and long stems. During flowering a small level of this type of light can also boost flower production.
Of all the spectrum ranges, the least is known on the effects of green light on cannabis plants, though the consensus is that it is beneficial to have at least a small amount. The common theories are that green light reflects off the plant canopy and into the shadowy areas and backside of plant foliage. It is also believed to counter most of the effects of blue light during the plants vegetative stage.
It is fairly common knowledge that red and far red spectrum light promotes flower growth during this stage, and that blue range light during the vegetative stage promotes stem and healthy root growth. What is less known is that too high a ratio of red-to-blue light during the vegetative stage can cause unwanted stretching in your plants and if this ratio is too low during flowering it will result in lower yields.
Inversely, if the ratio of red-to-blue light is lower during vegetative it promotes shorter, stouter plant growth with tight inter-nodal spacing - ideal for indoor growers. A high ratio of red-to-blue during flowering promotes greater bud production and height growth. Note that too much far red or infrared light during this stage could lead to unwanted stretching.
Lastly, in recent years much has been learned on the effects of blue, UVA and UVB spectrum light on cannabis growth. For instance exposing the plant to greater ratios of blue light during flowering is believed to increase the density of flavonoids, terpenes and cannabinoids. Meanwhile exposing the plant to UVB light, for instance in the last 3-5 weeks of flowering, can result in an increase in trichome production and therefore greater overall production of these compounds by up to 30%.
SUMMARY: There are two important points to take away from all of this. One, similar to how solar light intensity changes with the seasons, your cannabis plants require different intensities and ratios of light during each stage of growth in order to produce optimal results; and two, the resulting effects of red versus blue spectrum light on the plant during the flowering stage are conflicting. A high ratio of red-to-blue light results in high yields but less essential compounds, while lower ratios of red-to-blue promotes greater essential compound density but less overall flower density and yield. This is the cannabis ‘spectrum trade off’ and leads me to the second part of this article.
B. The Issue With Modern Grow Lights: Tackling The Spectrum Trade Off
Today’s grow lights are fairly rigid in their design and use. Most offer up a single spectrum designed to be used throughout each stage of plant growth, with directions to raise or lower the entire light in order to adjust intensity, but this does not change the spectrum ratio at all. This is not ideal because of the contradicting effects red and blue spectrum light has on the plant at each stage. Essentially the lighting company has made the decision of what your goals are for your grow: high yields, good looking and smelling buds, or potency.
Alternatively, some other lighting companies offer up spectrum customization in the form of veg and bloom on/off switches. This brings up a whole other set of issues- for instance too low a ratio of red-to-blue light can slow plant metabolism leading to less foliage and therefore reduced levels of photosynthesis, and can lead to a bunch of other developmental issues such as leaf edema (when the leaves swell up). Most growers with these switches have them both active for most of their grow, leading back to the trade off issue.
Lastly, and what I will be discussing in the next section of the article, is a rare third group of grow lights that have light intensity and spectrum adjusters. These options allow for complete control over both spectrum and intensity without the need to turn a certain spectrum range off completely. There are not many of these lights out there, but they are certainly the future of grow lights as we learn more about what this plant needs to produce the best quality buds possible.
C. The Solution For Optimal Yields And Peak Cannabinoid, Flavonoid and Terpene Production
What cannabis growers need is a light that allows spectrum ratios to be controlled in order to optimize the goals of each stage of growth. There are very few lights like this, but they do exist and are called hybrid, or custom spectrum grow lights. The ones I know about are the KIND K5 series and FOURBUDZ pro series, each offering 4 channel settings that control a different spectrum range. The price difference is notable, even though the lights are actually very comparable - I use a FourBudz pro3 for this reason. I’ll explain the benefits of custom spectrum lighting by explaining how I use it to grow my plants.
When my plants are seedlings, my goal is to promote healthy root and stem growth while avoiding stretching or photobleaching. So for this stage I turn the intensity of blue light and UV light to 30% and red to 15%, then double these numbers after about a week or so.
Once the plant has reached the vegetative stage it can handle full intensity blue spectrum light, but I still keep both red range light channels at 60% to promote more compact internodes and less potential stretching caused by too much infrared light. The level of red light still balances out plant metabolism to keep photosynthesis levels high.
Once I switch to a 12-12 lighting schedule I will ramp up red light intensity to 80% and keep blue and UV light at 100%. This ensures a comfortable photoacclimation of the plant to a full intensity light schedule.
A few weeks into the 12-12 switch I will turn the grow light up to 100% intensity for all channels. The plant is working overtime during this period of growth and needs energy from any spectrum range it can get.
In the last stage, and arguably the most important stage in terms of light spectrum ratios, I keep all reds at 100% to keep flower production levels high. I also keep UV and white light at 100%, which forces the plant to create new trichomes and therefore generate more cannabinods, terpenes and flavonoids. Lastly, I turn mid-range blue spectrum light down to 70%, which adjusts the spectrum slightly to promote greater growth and density of the plants flowers. All in all, this leads to high yields AND high potency in buds that look, smell and taste like top shelf dispensary product.
I hope you hung on and read the article in its entirety. It can be a lot for those new to growing, but lighting is also the single most effective factor in manipulating harvests and creating high yielding top shelf buds. If you just skipped to the conclusion, maybe you’re one of the many growers that simply does not care how top shelf buds occur- but rather that they do with your plants (Just tell me what I need to do!). If that is you, then the bottom line here is go out and buy a custom spectrum grow light. There are a few companies that offer them, like KIND and FOURBUDZ, and they typically come with guides on how to adjust channels at each stage of growth for optimal harvest results. I was able to get the spectrum settings I discussed above from the FOURBUDZ website (click here to view), and the harvest results so far speak for themselves. Click here for a link to the FOURBUDZ pro3 product description.
'Prof' is a professionally trained Canadian teacher with a love of horticulture and advocate of the democratization of cannabis cultivation, especially for medicinal purposes.