How Much Space Do You Have?
The average amount of indoor space that each plant requires is 5 feet in height, and 1 to 2 square feet in width. More width is better, to give room for branching, but the interweaving of neighbouring plants allows for a canopy effect, using as much light as possible. Just know that anything under the canopy will need to be clipped, as it will waste energy that can be used to grow the parts getting enough light (more on that later).
Let’s use four as an example, because it is the legal number of plants you can grow in Canada and Oregon, and in Colorado can grow six, but can only flower three at a time. So, four is the maximum in a single growing space.
Some people choose to convert a closet into usable growing space, but the access is limited by the size and type of the door. Also, it is very difficult to ensure that no light gets into a closet during the “night” cycle.
The better option, in this case, is a grow tent.
You may be thinking the windbreaker material dome in which you would sleep outside.
Grow tents are quite different. They are like a standalone closet, rectangular, with zippered or Velcro doors and air-tight and light-tight ports for all of your wires, hoses and ventilation tubes. They are almost always lined on the inside with Mylar, a very efficient reflective material that will help to ensure that the plants get as much light as possible.
Shown here is an aeroponic system in a grow tent. Aeroponics is recommended for expert growers only and will be covered in a later tutorial.
Grow tents can also be acquired quite cheaply, like the tent we chose in What You Need to Grow Marijuana.
The tent we chose is easy to set up, has all the portholes you need, and it is large enough for all the equipment and the space you will need for four plants.
For help setting up your grow tent, see 24″ x 48″ Grow Tent Setup – Step-by-Step Instructions With Pictures.
The Layout (for Soil)
As you can see, this tent would give you the minimum required space (1 square foot by 5 feet), with extra space between for equipment access, branching, and clipping. You do not want to go much larger, because the smaller space, the more efficiently the light is delivered to the plants, and not absorbed by your equipment and converted to heat (like black paint in the sun).
If you are using soil, the buckets should be situated like the above diagram. If you are growing hydroponically, place your baskets or nets in the center of each quadrant above, to allow for growth. You can slightly offset them to give room front-to-back, but doing so will make the light that each plant gets uneven.
This has an added benefit with our recommended LED grow light. The highest PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) will be in the very center, meaning the majority of branching will be between the plants, ensuring a thick, dense canopy growth.
For a list of the equipment that you will need, see What You Need to Grow Marijuana
We won’t go too far into details when it comes to setting up your equipment, as most companies include detailed instructions with their products. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask down in the comments.
As you add pieces of equipment to your tent, try to keep it as organized as possible by:
- running wires up and down one corner with white zip ties or twist ties and feeding them out the highest possible wire porthole
- keeping air tubes as high as possible, preferably above the water line if using hydroponic systems
- keeping water tubes as low as possible, to prevent damage to other equipment if a leak occurs
The reason you want white zip ties is that any other colour will absorb tiny amounts of the light you are producing. It may not seem like much, but it can add up.
You want everything to be as reflective as possible, and white reflects virtually all colours of light. Try to cover as many coloured components as possible, like wrapping or covering black equipment pieces in aluminum foil. DO NOT cover any ventilation holes, and only loosely cover any electrical components that produce heat.
Another useful purpose for aluminum foil (after your plants are transplanted) is to keep your substrate from getting too much light. Just like in a fish tank, water, nutrients and light can easily mean algae, which will use up some nutrients you bought for your plants. So, loosely set a layer of aluminum foil (do not wrap the buckets or pots, you want them to breathe) over the substrate (soil, rock wool, clay pebbles) and around the stems of the plants.
At this point, you should have your:
- tent set up
- ventilation system installed (pulling air out a higher hole, to pull carbon dioxide up as much as possible, and to not push the heat down onto your plants and equipment)
- pots or buckets (and possibly reservoir) in place (empty so far)
- a light (or two) installed and centred, ready to plug into the timer
- circulation fans clipped to opposite corners, one high, one low, aiming along the side of the tent, not at the plants
- wires routed outside the tent, ready to plug into the surge bar
It’s time to move on to Lesson 3 – Starting Your Seeds
If you are starting with clones, and do not wish to learn about how seeds are started, skip ahead to Lesson 4 – Soil Growing