by Sammy Spade (with contributions by Nebula Haze)
A lot of new growers rush into setting up their indoor garden without a proper plan. And dare I blame you? As an exciting new chapter in your life with great rewards, you're anxious to get started… but it's also an endeavor rife with challenges. Challenges you need to take very seriously.
Deciding which room of your house to use for producing home-grown weed presents a complex problem, and reserving some meaningful consideration goes a long way towards making your job easier and your grow a more successful endeavor.
Would you launch a business without a plan? Probably not. Or perhaps your answer is yes. Perhaps you would start a business by just moving forward and winging it as you went along.
Fair enough, so would I, to be completely honest with you. But even so, I strongly encourage a methodical process for setting up your grow. Although it's possible to wing it with growing cannabis, there is so much at stake and so much room for failure that the importance of a plan is crucial to saving you a lot of time and more importantly money!
Let's look at some of the different aspects you want to take into account before choosing a room to try out your green thumb.
7 Guiding Principles To Creating the Perfect Grow Room
A smart grower puts a lot of effort into concealing their grow from the public. Even if you are growing medical marijuana and have gone through all the motions demanded of a legal pot farmer (and I still highly encourage you to do so), you don't want the whole world knowing what you are up to.
Even though you can run a legitimate operation these days, headaches are no less real if the authorities decide to give you a little trouble, even if just to make you uncomfortable. On top of that, you face a real danger from burglars, many of who are armed and dangerous.
So, secrecy is paramount.
Look at the different rooms in your house and consider how easy their location will make it to hide your grow once it's set up. If growing inside, will guests notice something fishy going on, or can you just keep them away from the door to the room and call it good?
A stand-alone room separated from the main house is a stealthy location for minimizing damages and keeping it away from guests (dogs loose in the yard serve as a fantastic burglar deterrent), but how will you keep light from spilling out the door every time you enter the room during the "day cycle?"
Your exhaust system creates another challenge. With any powerful grow light (even LEDs start getting hot once you get to the larger models that pull more than 250W of power out the wall), your room will surely need a nice system that pulls out hot, stale air and replenishes the garden with cool, fresh air.
A common option (this is what I do and probably what most hobbyist growers do) is to vent heat out a window using a fan plus ducting to suck air out of your grow space. The main challenge with this is making sure that your window still looks normal from the outside so no one can tell you're using it as a vent. There are several ideas on how to do this!
If you can't vent out a window for whatever reason, there are possible solutions for building your exhaust system directly in your house if that option is open to you, but safety is a huge concern when covering new territory. One idea to vent your hot air is to cut a hole in the ceiling and run insulated ducting through the ceiling. The ducting should run all the way to an outside vent to prevent heat and moisture buildup in your attic, which can ruin the structure up there, so make sure the crawlspace is big enough for you to get up in the attic and work.
If you're doing this, make sure to check out the gaps between your ceiling beams ahead of time to make sure you can run the ducting through without cutting through any important framework. Running ducting into the floor and under the house offers another option (if you don't mind a little tangling with cobwebs). If you happen to have a convenient chimney near your grow spot, that can also be a lucky option. Always get a second opinion regarding safety if you're making any structural changes to your home.
No matter what, figure out your exhaust system ahead of time when first choosing your room!
How much home-grown weed do you want to produce? How many patients are you serving?
- Stealth Boxes, Small Tents, and Cabinets (up to 2'x4' or 3'x3') – yields up to several ounces
- Hobbyist Size Tent – (larger than 3’x3’, but no larger than a 5’x5’) – yields from several ounces up to about a max of 2 lbs
- Large Rooms/Tents – (larger than 5' x 5') – yields 1-2 lb and greater
- A Few Example Setups
Remember that you need enough height to support both your lights and plants, so a 3' tall cupboard isn't going to cut it if you're using LED grow lights! If you're using CFLs or fluorescent lighting you can get by with a short space, but with LEDs or HPS you need to give yourself at least a foot (and usually more) between the light and the top of your plants, so don't forget to consider that! The more you want to yield, the more height you need (up to a point of course) because bigger plants tend to yield more bud than small ones.
In addition to the space needed by your plants, you also need room to get in and around your plants so you can tend to them. Resist the urge to fill every space in the room because if working on your plants becomes a hassle, you may not do it at all, a negligence that will surely lead to problems with mold or bugs in the future.
What about the other appliances needed for growing premium homegrown weed? Where will you hang your fan and carbon filter? Will you mount your oscillating fans on the walls, or will they just stand in the aisles? Do you have room for a dehumidifier or even a heater should the need for either arises?
When your grow space is completely filled with cannabis plants, it becomes almost impossible to tend the plants near the back and sides
Break out a paper and pen and draw a to-scale diagram of your room, deciding where each item will go beforehand. You will likely need to redraw the diagram over and over before coming up with the perfect layout for your room.
If I have one piece of advice, always give yourself a little more space than you think you need! It's better to have too much than not enough!
4. Noise and Smell
Perhaps your neighbors cannot see your room, but will they hear it through the walls–the rattle of oscillating fans, your exhaust, and the hum of the ballasts? Perhaps your guests will never pass by the door to your grow, or perhaps the door will be cleverly concealed to the point of invisibility. But will the location adjacent to the living room make it impossible to mask the smell?
Will the grow affect your social life, or can you find a location in your home more fitting?
Of course, there are ways to deal with smells and noises, like carbon filters, hanging equipment from inside the tent, sound boards as well as other techniques, but plan ahead so you know which measures you need to take if any.
5. Moving Supplies In and Out
No matter how well-concealed your room, you will need to move supplies as well as finished medical marijuana in and out each time you harvest. If living in a residential area, you can find a house with an attached garage so you can easily pull your vehicle in to unload. However, many growers with garages find it the optimal place for farming home grown weed (lots of space, minimal damages, and easy to hide from nosy guests).
If you're growing in a room in your backyard, as discussed before, how will you get stuff in and out in front of the eyes of suspicious neighbors? How will you move harvested plants out? Smuggling stuff in boxes, contractor bags, and plastic totes at night could help provide the answer… Plan, plan, and plan some more!
How will you discreetly move stuff (including plants and supplies) in and out of the grow space?
6. Running Electricity
Running electricity provides yet another challenge. The wiring in a spare bedroom may prove inadequate for running a set of 1000 watt lights as well as the other high-voltage electrical appliances like ACs. If you're going for a big grow, chances are you'll need to run a whole new source of power from the fuse box. And the farther you run that power, the more inefficient it becomes. Where will you run the power cables to keep them from being seen? Through the attic? Under the house? Always consult with an electrician before attempting to make any changes to the electrical system in your house!
However, for a smaller hobbyist size grow your house will likely be able to handle the electricity! At that point, it's more a matter of figuring out how much electricity is going to cost!
Finally, damages to your home present another major concern for the indoor medical marijuana grower. Measures for minimizing the effect of humidity and heat go a long way, but given time, these elements take a toll nonetheless.
Can you afford to sacrifice a little wear and tear on that extra bedroom? Using a room meant for utility purposes, like a shop or garage, could spare the home interior, or should you just take all the necessary precautions and set an additional fund aside for repairs later?
But aside from a grow tent or building a room specifically for growing home grown weed, you will surely find that every room has its advantages and disadvantages. You cannot change that. But you can plan well in advance, and by foreseeing future challenges, you can come up with a plan that minimizes or dissolves all of them from the get-go!
To find out more about planning out your indoor grow room, you might want to check out the complete marijuana guide I recommend and e-Book, Growing Elite Marijuana. Learning how to grow weed indoors takes time and energy – rely on those who have gone before you and reap the rewards!
About Sammy Spade
Sammy Spade is a Humboldt County native and writes articles about growing premium pot to help new growers succeed on every single grow.