Growing Tips From the 101
Part II – Selecting your grow site…12 steps to picking a prime location.
- Plant Count
- Outdoor Sites
For the purposes of this video series, we had a couple candidates for grow rooms. We ended up selecting a parked semi-trailer located on the southern Oregon Coast. The old rig needed a lot of work but it met all of our requirements and the owner is one of our favorite clients. The site also offers a couple different outdoor locations to choose from. So for us, it was a no-brainer…a workable site and people we love to work with…..check out the video below.
This how-to series will show this grow room from primer on the walls to harvest…every step of the way. It will give the viewer an idea of how quickly the plants change and how to maximize your harvest of THC. Now let’s get started on your room.
- Security — When we talk about security we are not just talking about bad guys coming to steal your weed. Your plants must also be secure from nosey neighbors that can see them,
children that can’t be near them, animals that might trample or pee on them, haters that might report them and friends/relatives that just don’t need to see them. If the grow is in your house maybe lock the room they are in but think discreet and private as possible when picking your space. We chose the semi because there are many homes on the property so someone is always there and once locked semi-trailers are relatively difficult to get into.
- Power access — Grow lights use more power than normal lights and your room will also contain pumps, fans, dehumidifiers and in some climates even air conditioning. Our host plans to use and even expand this grow room so a proper power supply was wired professionally into the room. If electricity is not your forte’ an electrician needs to be called. In weed-legal states, any electrician in the directory will work and most every garden supply store has a list of canna-electricians. In weed illegal states a CL ad or social media post in the right group will yield a willing electrician. You can also compare power usage of your lights to power usage of heavy equipment and have your room wired in advance. We once turned a decommissioned forest preserve into a grow room and the main building had 3 400amp power boxes outside…enough to run 50 double ended hps lights which is a huge room. The owner and his partner told the power company we were commercial artists and needed the power for a glass blowing furnace, ceramic kiln and metal fabrication machines. The power company had no clue because we knew our power usage and compared. Be creative, this will be a surprisingly easy task. If a space is ideal but has no power you can get power to it relatively easy and affordable.
- Water — Access to water can make some spaces more appealing, especially with outdoor grows. One of the best cannabis jobs I ever got came down to me and one other guy. I was chosen over him because I could drive and operate a commercial water truck. Because I could haul water they could use a grow site that before would have been too costly. The other candidate was a far more experienced grower than me and far more knowledgeable….but I came with more water so for them it was a no brainer and they hired me. Water is that important. Each plant will require water at least bi-daily if you are growing more than 4 plants I recommend an automatic watering system. A hose outside the window is nice but you will still need space for a container to Ph balance your water and mix in nutrients. In our room build for this series we are walling off our two rooms with a nutrient room between them. We have a hose right outside providing well water and room for a nutrient barrel feeding each room.
- Width/Girth — Our semi-trailer is 8 feet wide and we will place the plants down the center allowing room to walk on each side of the plant. Be sure to leave space between plants when measuring or stepping off a room. Plants cannot be against the wall or too close to each other.
- Height — I used double ended hps for the first time growing in a semi-trailer and I loved them. Before that, I used Bell wide hoods with 1000w hps lights and ballasts. The old school lights could get pretty close to the plants but the newer more efficient lights would fry the plants at that height. Old school equipment needs to hover about 14-18 inches off the plants in the especially early on in the flower cycle while more efficient double ended hps lights need more height, they should hover 3-4 feet above the plants. Make sure your room can handle not only the height of your plants but also the growth of your plants. If you are using pots large enough to support root growth your plants will grow 3-5 feet from veg to flower so make sure you can raise your lights with them.
- Air Intake — Outdoor air remains between 350-400 ppm CO2 but a plant can use much higher levels. Completely sealing your room and adding a CO2 tank (we will discuss this more in part 3) is an option but not a necessity. Your plants will breathe ambient air just fine. If you are in a very warm climate like Arizona sealing (and possibly insulating) your room will be a must. In warm climates, you will battle heat in your room just as in cold climates you will battle cold in the winter. This hot summertime air and cold winter air can be your enemy so be sure you are able to keep it out of your room. For our room in this series, we are putting 1” Styrofoam board on the walls and ceiling of the semi to insulate our girls from the Pacific NW winter outside. We will place an intake fan somewhere in the rig so we can cool the room with outside air if needed.
- Ventilation — No matter what kind of lights you buy they are going to generate heat. The newer and more advanced in technology your lights are the less heat they will generate….old school lights put off a lot of heat. Either way pumping that heat out is the best option for cooling a room. Not only do you want to consider if you can pump air out to cool but you should also consider if you can seal the space to keep air in if smell containment is a priority. With our semi we are using an exhaust in line with lights and hung high to release our hot air, odor is not an issue for us. Obviously, you would not take this approach in a weed illegal state because the exhaust odor would get you busted. Many growers use guest rooms in their home exhaust into the attic, before doing this investigate your attic and the air flow of your home. I have seen this approach work and I have seen it disperse the weed odor throughout the home. Sealing a room and air conditioning it is the best option for odor, air quality, and temperature but it is costly so be sure to balance your options with your budget.
- Humidity — Mold and moisture are your enemies in an indoor grow room. Humidity percent should stay under 50% in an indoor grow, it must stay under 60% or you battle mold….and you will lose. Plants and lights will raise the humidity, especially with outside air being let in. Although mold is a tough battle, fighting and managing humidity is easy and affordable. A dehumidifier is a must, even large rooms can be managed with department store unit for 100-150 bucks…..do not skip this step and make sure you have room for the unit you purchase. We have an old unit we lend to our clients to get them started, we bought it for 6o dollars at a thrift store 4 years ago so look around on CL and local shoppers/yard sales if you’re on a tight budget.
- Drainage/Mess — Whichever method of growing you choose there is going to be some mess and quite a bit of water drainage. Even the dehumidifier mentioned in the above step is going to be constantly draining water (or you’ll be emptying the catch bucket every 8 hours), your pots will drain and watering plants and mixing nutrients all gets messy sometimes. Wood, tile and vinyl floors all work well. If you are using a carpeted room or closet you might want to put a rubber mat under your plants and high traffic areas. Our semi-trailer for this project is ideal in this capacity, I’ve said for years that storage containers, cargo trailers and old RVs make the best grow rooms. One of their best assets is plumbing and drainage. When we place and level these rigs we tip the front left corner down just a bit, then we route all our pot drains to a hole in the front. We place dehumidifiers wherever we want and drill a hole to route their drain hose right through the floor…easy peasy. When you are selecting your space give consideration to where all the drain water is going to go and if you have to haul it out once and a while make sure you have room to do so.
- Lighting — We will go into what kinds of lights there are, what you should consider and how to set your lights later in the series when we are building the room. For now when we talk about lighting we are talking about light getting into your grow space. How many doors are there? Are there windows in your grow room or vents that allow light through? If it’s an out building, shed or shop does light bleed through the wood cracks or door seems? Whatever space you choose you need to get in that space and turn the lights off with the door closed. Wherever you see light seeping in you need to seal it up…total darkness is that important when lights are off and plants are sleeping. All the tarps and half-assed dry walling you see in grow room pictures are not sloppiness….it’s just growers patching out the light that is trying to get in, often those tarps you see hanging are blocking a window or opening that’s allowing light in.
- Plant count — The number of plants you want to grow will dictate the size of space you’re looking for and the space you finally decide on will dictate how many plants you can have. Step off or measure 4’x4’ for each plant you want to make sure your space will accommodate your plant count. Also, consider that if you want to grow a crop more than twice a year or if you want to keep strains for yourself you will need another space or room. For our project, the semi-trailer came with a twin sister sitting right next to it. The owner of this operation will eventually turn the second semi into the nursery for clone management and strain storage. We call our clone room “the preschool” and growers will often refer to the plant stages as preschool, junior high, high school, and college. We harvest once the plants have “earned their degree.” If your space will only allow flowering plants you can arrange for clones from a dispensary or medical grower. If you are growing for yourself or even a couple of patients 1 or 2 good harvests a year will be more than enough buds and medicine. However, we asked you early in this series if you are growing for profit if you answered yes to that question a “preschool” or clone room is an absolute must. You may only have 4 plants flowering but then you should have 4 plants vegging for your next run or cycle and you should have 4 clones on deck for the cycle after that.
- Outdoor Sites — It’s a cold winter here on the coast so for the most part, this series will focus on indoor growing techniques. In the spring we will follow this series with an outdoor grow tutorial and you can follow our steps through an entire outdoor growing season. Even though it’s cold we are still preparing for our outdoor grow season and you should too. If you are growing from seeds you need to germinate and get them to size (2-3 ft) by the end of March. So even if you are growing strictly outdoors you will still need a clone room or preschool to get your plants ready…much like a gardener of tomatoes or nightshades will start their plants early in a greenhouse and use the winter to make them strong before taking their place in lush outdoor gardens. This same principal is a necessity with outdoor marijuana growing. In selecting your outdoor space electrical power is not a factor but all the aspects of indoor space consideration apply. Security becomes paramount with an outdoor grow site, often growers are torn with outdoor sites between great light with weak security and solid security with shitty light. And believe it or not, it is always a tough decision.
Hopefully, you had a pretty good idea of where you wanted to grow before you set out to learn the craft or found this tutorial series. With any luck these principals to follow confirmed that your space will work. And if we eliminated an area you were planning to use we hope an even bigger and better one was discovered. Now that we have a spot picked out let’s star-making warm, white and wonderful for your plants….Welcome to the Green Rush!