I started growing 40 years ago to save money because Cannabis was so expensive by the early 80’s. At 400 an ounce I wasn’t going to have anything in life if I had smoked my paycheck away! Now, 40 years later, some people ask me why I still have a personal garden. There are many reasons and I want to go over a few before we get into a basic grow room set up:
- The smoke you produce will be the best no matter what because it’s yours.
- In today’s Economy Cannabis is a great trade commodity – in most medical and recreational states you can trade buds for services as long as no money is exchanged.
- Sharing is Caring – there is nothing like turning on a few friends to some dank flowers or bubble hash (I love giving out samples!)
- It Might lead to a lucrative career!
I used a 150 watt grow lamp in my first closet grow but I quickly moved up to bigger lights. I went to Lowes and bought a 400 watt Metal Halide garage bay light. It was noisy and hot, but I was able to actually produce really good “Homegrown” (as we called anything that was green without seeds). I quickly bought 2 more lamps and started selling my cannabis to my friends and improving my status in life. I was later busted because I was growing in Savanah, Georgia, but I served my time and I can talk about my growing days in the south.
Here are some mistakes people make when planning a small grow area.
- Not enough power: Growing cannabis requires lights, air conditioning, humidifiers, fans and many other things that will trip a breaker if things aren’t planned out well.
- Not having enough capital is also a problem as getting set up is costly and cutting corners will mean mistakes or failure, so it is important to plan things like cooling and water source and filtration up front. Get all your pots, catch trays, clone domes, scissors, measuring cups, pumps, fans, buckets and storage bins hangers and turkey bags ready (not having an important item means your end product suffers).
Next let’s talk about genetics. Now, obviously, I sell seeds but there is one single reason not to start without checking everything is clean and ready: PESTS. If you read my recent article on Russet Mites you will understand why you do not want to bring unwanted pests into your new grow room. Starting with new soil or medium and seeds you will be starting clean and this makes the whole process so much more enjoyable.
For more detailed information on starting seeds, transplanting, cloning etc. You can learn to grow for free at Subcool.com where you can find thousands or hours of videos and hundreds of searchable articles. This article will focus on the design side instead of growing.
When setting up a new product or building something, use Google and YouTube as a reference – the days of ‘I don’t know how to do something’ are gone (unless you’re an idiot you can find a DIY video on anything).
Grow tents are popular and can be an easy set up but all the same rules above apply. You need adequate ventilation, power and proper lighting.
Lighting has come a very long way and there are so many choices for a tent grow but a LED Cob is may be the best bet. They are not cheap, but I am using a Black Sail 10”Cannon that is covering 4 plants well with less than 3 amps drawn. Some LED fixtures last up to 12 years, thereby eliminating the need for replacing costly bulbs. New lighting technology in LED spectrums is producing some amazing quality flowers with small power requirements.
From my closet I went to a garage and that is usually the first place a grower expands to after he learns a few things about growing – I have a Pool to grow in and it’s still not big enough.
My first garage grow was 4-1000 watt HPS for flower and 1-1000 watt MH for veg this is a good system but it is hard to fill a 4k area with just 1k. Always expanding, I now run a 12k flower room above my pool and I have two areas for Vegging out my seedlings and clones. I utilize LED for saving energy and smaller plants and with this system I run what is called a perpetual harvest so we always have a fresh supply of Cannabis.
Smell control is always part of the design – even if you’re 100% legal you don’t want your neighbors knowing your home is a ganja factory. Carbon scrubbers are a must and guess what? More power is needed for these as well so it’s important before expanding into your whole home to have your electrical service checked out and possibly upgraded.
You will need a good area to dry and cure your cannabis – I use a walk-in closet but you have to control temperature, smell, cleanliness and humidity. This final part of it can be the most important as dank can turn to dust if things aren’t handled properly.
All of these factors come in to play when you design and build a commercial production space. Just on a much larger scale. The building I am remodeling has just 12000 watts and we have to manage each the same as a hobby grower does.
The main difference is the scale of things, some production facilities are massive and there are three main types of disciplines: Indoor which sells for the highest price; Greenhouse which is where the most cannabis is produced in the US currently; IMO and Outdoor which is mostly a Northern California thing due to the weather. In my new location we are starting with 2-3000 SQ. FT. rooms with 196 lights per area – it will include a full kitchen for edible production with glass walls for filming and promotion, and a state of the art hash making walk-in freezer. Filling an area this large is quite complicated and we will use a combination of both clones started in a remote area and seeds that we start once the facility is operational.
As demand for cannabis products increases expect imported products to come hard, fast, and cheap. Once Brazil and other tropical locations start producing in the jungles the price will drop quickly and the Wallmart-ation of Cannabis will be complete. That is why it is crucial for craft growers like me to survive. We do not grow for any other reason than we love the plant. My business earns me a good living and I do not smoke much anymore due to my lung condition from Alpha-1 but I have a bigger grow now than ever.
Sitting in my grow room is THE most therapeutic thing I have ever done – the whir of the fans, the glow and warmth of the lights and the smell of Mary Jane always puts a smile on my face.
The Weed Nerd
Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 139