Growing Tips from the 101
Part III – Grow Room Construction
The Basics of Building Bud Rooms
A grow room can be many spaces and things. We at Coastal Cannabis have built or been part of a team that built grow rooms in closets, storage sheds, barns, shop offices, guest rooms, shipping containers, RVs, semi-trailers, a decommissioned forest preserve, warehouses, basements, a retired school and we once considered an out of business funeral home…but we figured that was going too far. The point is that a grow room can be many different spaces and containers but the recipe for success in any grow room remains the same.
In fact, that is how we will approach part 3 of this series…just like a recipe. Cannabis grow rooms and growing processes are much like BBQ sauces or chili. Everyone has their secret ingredients and steps but the basics are the same. This is how my recipe would look for the big Chili Cook Off.
Big Bubbas Bud Rooms
Ingredients:–Space and time…paint, tape, tarp or foam…pots and drainage pans…pvc pipe,glue,a raised platform…lights, timer, and hangers…soil Sulphur and CO2 …fans and a dehumidifier….water, soil and nutrients…a barrel….healthy clones or plants from seed grown to a healthy 2 ft tall….lots of love and patience.
To begin you will need to carefully combine the first and last ingredients, fill your space with love let time sift by with patience. Next use the paint and tape to seal and smooth the surface of your grow room then use foam and tarp to insulate your space and block out all light. If you have the option to choose the color of your space…choose white. Then install a raised platform to allow drainage and workability of your plants, place drip trays and plant pots on your platform spaced equally apart in line with where your lights will hang. Use PVC piping and glue to route your drainage away from the pot and into a catch container or a drain out of the room. You will then use the light hangers to hang your lights over the pots. Next, fill the pots with soil and transplant your specimens to their grow pots. Blend nutrients with water in the barrel and add to plants then cycle the lights to be on 12 hours and off 12 hours with the timer. While the lights are off burn soil sulphur in the room, before the lights come on add a dehumidifier and a CO2 tank with the regulator set to keep CO2 ppm at 1350. Place one or many fans in your room depending on the size of your room. Repeat the watering process and increase the amounts of love time and patience in your space for the next 8-10 weeks.
Of course, there is a little more detail to the task but the basics are the same. Let’s break those basics down into our 12 step system that will work to convert any space into a usable grow room. Let’s build a bed for your buds!
12 Steps to Cannabis Grow Room Construction
- SEAL YOUR ROOM—Empty your room/space and patch or repair any damage (plaster holes on interior walls, fix leaky ceilings, use weatherstrip to seal drafty windows and tarp over windows to seal out light). Use mold killing paint like Kilz on the walls floor and ceiling. Make the room as smooth and white as possible. If you have to route power and water into your room do it at this time then seal the holes made where the cords/pipes enter the room with foam sealer like Great Stuff. Your room is now white with power and water. Windows and doors are covered to block out light when the lights are off.
- INSULATE YOUR ROOM—Foam panels are inexpensive and can serve many purposes in a grow room. We use one-inch panels when we want to cover a wall and we use two or three-inch panels to make a wall. Hanging tarp from rafters in a garage or out building then screwing the tarp to Styrofoam panels will make a very quick, cheap yet effective wall. Whether your room is a closet or a warehouse your plants, lights and watering methods are all going to make that room sweat, the foam panels are the cheapest solution we have found and ironically it is the most effective and versatile as well. Even if you are using an interior room in a residential or commercial building you will still need to separate your nutrient room, nursery etc…and foam panels work great for temporary false walls and much more. We don’t let plant pots touch dirt or concrete floors so foam panels will work here too. Even the pot platform can be built from cut and stacked foam panels. For our project, we covered the semi-trailer interior with Kilz mold killing/preventing white paint. We framed our walls with 2x4s and used the foam panels to complete the walls separating our two grow rooms, the nutrient room and nursery. Any wood, screws or hardware used in fastening the foam or routing power should be painted white at this time.
- PLATFORMS…GIVING THE GIRLS A STAGE —Not only do we not want our ladies sitting in the dirt or on concrete elevating them a bit off the floor serves many purposes. Drainage is much easier with the plants elevated 3-5 inches. Elevated plants are completely in your environment while plants sitting on the floor will find a different temperature in the dirt or concrete. A platform can be achieved by stacking cut foam panels and shipping pallets make great plant platforms. For our project, we will have 5 plants under a 12-foot canopy. We wanted a 30-inch wide platform so we cut a sheet of plywood into three 30 pieces. We spliced some 2x4s together to make two 12 foot supports spaced two feet apart with cross members every few feet. We fastened the plywood pieces to the top then painted the entire platform white and placed it in the semi.
- DRAINAGE SYSTEMS —Even a 1-gallon pot has a drip tray underneath it and we recommend much larger pots. Two plants in 20-gallon pots will produce higher quality and higher yield than 6 plants in 5-gallon pots. If using a soil based or soil-less medium to grow in we feel a 15-gallon pot is minimum… 25-gallon pots are recommended. This means a lot of water runoff when you water. Only about 4-8 gallons of drainage and spillage will accumulate every few days, but it’s got to go somewhere. We recommend using hot water drain pans which come with a drain hole and a PVC pipe to attach to. A couple bucks of the same size pipe, some t-joints, an end plug and flex hose configured to flow the water from your pots to a catch basin or drain is all you need to meet the drainage needs of your room. For our project we used 5 water heater drain trays, we attached 1 & 1/2 PVC t-joints to the pans and connected them with PVC pipe and routed the overflow out a hole in the front of the semi-trailer.
- LIGHTS…THE SOURCE OF GROWTH —There are many brands and types of grow lights. In fact, there are so many it can be a bit overwhelming. But here’s a couple basics that will help you when purchasing one of, if not the most important piece of your grow room. Marijuana plants have two phases…the vegetative phase…and the flower phase. When light is kept on marijuana plants 24 hours a day they will not “flower” or produce buds. They will remain in this “veg” state for as long as you want. The plants think it is pre-summer solstice with long days of growth as long as you keep the lights on. When the lights are timed to turn on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours the plants think summer solstice has passed and will focus every bit of their energy on “flowering” or bud production. Some lights are intended to only “veg” plants…this includes most LED lights and all T-5 lights. Plan on spending over two thousand dollars on a LED light worthy of flowering plants. LED lights are very efficient but the flowering light spectrum needed is only achieved by the “high end” or top shelf LED lights….no pun intended. Keep in mind you will need T-5s or LED if you intend on keeping a nursery. Even aquarium fluorescents and grow lux lights can be used to “veg” plants in a nursery. For the bud room double ended hps (highpressure sodium) lights are the most popular. They are an updated version of time-honored, old-school hps lights which have been around forever. The double ended lights have a wider spectrum and need a little more height off the plants. Old-school hps and even magnesium halide lights are effective but they are pretty hard on the electric bill. Switching a grow room from 9 old school hps lights to 6 Gavita Pro double ended hps lights cut the electric bill from 650/month to 400/month and increased yield at the same time. Lights need to be 18” to 3’ above your plants so make sure you have the height. Time spent researching your lighting will have a better return than researching soils or even strains. For our project, we are using 3 Gavita Pro 1000w digital smart lights. They know if the current is 110 or 220 and adjust themselves. We are also using a Gavita Master Controller which allows us a high temp shut down in case cooling fails, allows us to sunrise/sunset the lights and replaces the need for a timer. It also comes with two temperature sensors on two long cords and is capable of controlling two rooms. Every grow store or e-store that has lights is also going to have adjustable light hangers…get these for each light, they are a must as your lights must go up and down with your crops. Whether you live in a weed legal or illegal state we recommend using an electrician to wire the receptacles for your lights. This is not something you should D.I.Y. unless you are knowledgeable about electrical wiring.
- CO2…CARBON DIOXIDE — This colorless odorless gas is essential to life on earth and also essential to premium cannabis bud growth and development. Plants flourish in environments with CO2 ppm levels of 1500. We keep our rooms at 1350ppm. CO2 tanks, regulators, and gauges are quite expensive but worth it if you have a large room. For smaller scale room letting large chunks of dry ice dissolve (thaw) in the room while the lights are off serves the same purpose as a tank and will raise the CO2 levels in your room.
- FANS AND DEHUMIDIFIERS —The air in your room cannot do two things. It cannot sit still and it cannot get over 50% humidity. If we have rooms with over 5 plants in it we use an Ideal brand commercial dehumidifier, it costs $1000. Don’t skimp on dehumidifiers, you’ll be chasing powder mold, mildew and bugs. The air in your room should not only remain under 50% humidity but the temperature should also remain under 80 degrees Fahrenheit with lights on and above 50 degrees when lights are off. Keep the air cooled, dried and moving. If fans are needed to import, exhaust or exchange air with another room then light blocking fans must be used. Regular fans can be used in the grow room. For our project, we have one light blocking intake fan and two light blocking exhaust fans. Inside the room, we used two pedestal fans … One oscillating on the plants and the other blowing the heated air from the lights toward the exhaust fan.
- LIGHT DEPRIVATION…TOTAL DARKNESS —This step is easy, go into your room with the lights off and see where light is bleeding in. Wherever light is coming from…stop it. Your plants need to be in total darkness when the lights are off and they are sleeping. Take a caulking gun, tape, weather-stripping or whatever ya’ need into your room and turn the lights off then seal the area it’s coming in.
- SULPHUR BURNING AND DEBUGGING —At this point, all but your plants and their food are in the room. This is a good time to debug and sulphur burn the room. Soil sulphur pellets can be purchased at any grow store and a sulphur vaporizer can also be acquired at a grow store. They are easy to operate and you should burn sulphur in your room for 4-10 hours. There is a cheaper alternative by forgoing the sulphur burner and buying an essential oil burner and some votive candles. Place the sulphur pellets in the oil tray and put the votive candle where a tea light candle would normally go in the oil burner. The larger candle will burn the sulphur tablets more efficiently for pennies on the dollar.
- WATERING…MIXING BARREL AND DELIVERY —For each plant, you need a 10-gallon mixing container, if you have four or five plants use a 55-gallon drum. 30-gallon drums can be used for 3 plants and under. It is good to place water movers such as aquarium agitators or small pond pumps in the nutrient barrel and leave it on all the time, this will keep the nutrients stirred. A second pond pump with a hose long enough to reach each plant makes a nice tool for manual delivery of water. A pond pump attached to a timer feeding a hose webbed across the top of the plant pots and under the foliage with holes punched in specific places over each pot on each side of the plant serves as a great automatic system. Each plant will consume about 10 gallons per week… our 55-gallon drum in the semi empties every 6 days. Hand watering is also acceptable and sometimes thought to be better for the plants.
- NUTRIENT ROOM…YOUR KITCHEN FOR THE CANNABIS —The nutrient room should be close to if not attached to your grow room. Do not keep your nutrients (or anything for that matter) in the bud room. A small space must be set aside to keep your water barrel, store your nutrients and mix meals for your ladies. For our project we built a small (7’x8’) room between the two grow rooms in the semi. In it, we have a barrel for each room and all our nutrients on a shelf. Most of our tools, tape, and soil is kept in there as well. We have also added an Uninterrupted Power Supply (ups) to this grow as the power goes out from time to time on this part of the coast so we want to be prepared, it is housed in the nutrient room as well. You want nothing but plants in your bud rooms and nurseries so your nutrient room kind of becomes the “junk drawer” of any grow site…..no worries, just add a shelf or two.
- THAT EXTRA PLANT…THERE’S ALWAYS MORE —Whether it be “budding out an old momma” or maybe “trying out a new strain” every grower seems to throw one more plant in once in awhile then try to convince others that there is a good reason for it….there isn’t. Especially if the plant is in a smaller pot or disadvantaged any way from the other plants. Putting a small, weak, old or even that new strain a buddy gave you weakens your grow and risks your other plants yield and health. Doing this is the equivalent of raising a team of champion Siberian Husky sled dogs but then letting a lazy old lap dog or puppy eat their food. However many plants you are planning for, plan for one more. Even I am guilty of this so even though a recreational grow is allowed 4 plants I have made room for 5….just in case we want to “bud out a momma” or “try out a new strain”.
So now your room is ready, you have prepared a safe, healthy environment for your ladies to flourish in. It’s time to figure out what to feed them and the next piece in this series will discuss just that….then it will be time to bring your ladies home and make some marijuana.
Welcome To The Green Rush!