by Sirius Fourside
If you’ve ever gone to a forum for advice on growing cannabis, you’ll know that there is no shortage of opinions on what you can do to become a better grower.
Learning new tips and training techniques give you an edge in growing and help you increase your yields. However, there is one thing that I consider to be the most important part of advancing your growing knowledge…
NOT GETTING CAUGHT!
No matter how good you are at growing cannabis, if you get caught and end up in jail, you’ll be in a place where your skills are useless and wasted. Even if growing cannabis is legal where you live, there are still thieves and nosy neighbors you don’t want learning about your garden.
But fret not! We’ve compiled this easy-to-read list of tips to help keep you out of the sight and minds of people who could ruin your life just for growing a plant.
Remember, the only thing better than increasing the potency and yields of your harvest is making sure you get to keep said harvest!
Let’s get into some tips for Stealth Growing – keeping your grow “under the radar” of other people.
First, the mantra: “No smell, no sell, no tell”
There are a lot of ways to keep you and your grow safe, but this is the heart of it all.
- No smell – No one should be able to smell your grow or smell cannabis on you. This makes you an easy target for police and marijuana haters!
- No sell – Statistically, people who are growing cannabis strictly for personal use deal with far less legal trouble than people who sell their cannabis. This even applies in places like Colorado where it’s legal within the state!
- No tell – Having fewer people know about your grow reduces the chances of you getting busted by law enforcement or burglarized by thieves. I know it’s hard not to show off your awesome growing skills, but this one secret that needs to stay a secret! In fact, telling someone about your grow is the easiest way to get yourself in trouble one way or another.
Growing Indoors vs. Outdoors
There are benefits to both of these growing methods, but when it comes purely to stealth, indoor growing is the way to go. Indoors, you can completely control smell and sound, plus your plants are out of view. Outdoor growing has one potentially major problem that indoor growers are pretty much safe against…people wandering by! This is especially problematic when the plants are being grown on your property. Many outdoor growers have been busted by nosy neighbors, city/utility workers, or just bad weather(floods have revealed hidden outdoor grows, for example). If you can grow indoors, you’ll make yourself that much harder to find!
It’s more stealthy to grow indoors – no one can stumble upon your plants!
In the vegetative stage, though some plants have a cannabis smell from the beginning, most cannabis tends to make a clean, fresh smell akin to the gardening section in a home improvement store. But once flowering kicks in, the smell can range from tame to “WHAT IS THAT SMELL?!”
Luckily, this can be easily corrected with several products like carbon filters for in the grow room, or odor neutralizers for living spaces. Some growers use diffusers or candles to help cover up smells on an emergency basis. Additionally, you can try growing cannabis strains that are known for having a more neutral smell (like the ones listed below). The goal is to make sure that the smell stays within your grow space, and doesn’t find its way into your living areas!
Important Note: Odor neutralizers with perfumes should not share the same air as your plants, meaning they shouldn’t be placed in your tent with your cannabis or the perfume smell might get onto your buds. Check out this PSA for more info: https://www.growweedeasy.com/ona-gel-cannabis
Auto-flowering strains – what is that?
- Auto Duck is an example of an auto-flowering strain that is great for stealth growing due to its smell (or lack thereof)
Low odor strains definitely aren’t fool-proof, but they can help make things easier! These are just a few examples of strains that are known to have a relatively low or neutral smell, but there are many others. Learn more about researching strains.
When buying any kind of electrical device, look up reviews on the product to make sure it runs quietly. A low-quality exhaust fan or air pump will cause people to be suspicious since they make lots of noise and typically run all day and night.
Exhaust fans and air pumps of especially low quality can raise even more suspicion by vibrating. This can make your grow noticeable through multiple walls!
Tips for quiet operation
- Use stealthy devices known to be quiet – it often helps to get quality equipment
- Don’t get a fan that’s way too powerful for your space, as bigger fans are noisier
- Install your exhaust fan inside your tent instead of outside, and try to hang it as opposed to letting it sit on something. Hanging your fan from the inside of my tent (which you can easily do with rope ratchets, large zip ties or even bungee cord) will reduce the amount of fan noise greatly.
- Keep the path for ducting as straight and short as possible. Extra bends and length will increase noise because of the air moving through the ducting, as well as because it makes your fan work harder.
- Use insulated ducting to help keep sounds inside
- Make sure your cool air intake hole is big enough. Your intake hole(s) where you get air should be near the bottom of the grow space and in total about 4x as big as the exhaust hole. If the fan is having trouble getting enough air it will run louder (and it’s hard on the fan)
- Use something that reduces sound around the outside of the fan, like egg crate material or foam. If there is foam between the fan and the place where it’s mounted it will help reduce vibration. Some people will also use an insulated box around the exhaust fan.
- Be aware of where the noise is going. Keep fans away from shared walls, the entrance of the room, near windows where sound projects, etc
To the outside world, it should appear as if you’re doing everything as normal. As paranoid as it sounds, you should assume that anyone who sees you doing growing related activity will know what it is and report you.
- Move any growing equipment at night so you’re less likely to be seen. It’s also a really good idea to cover any growing equipment you’re transporting, for example in black trash bags. This way, no one can see exactly what it is you’re moving!
- Be careful about what you throw in your trash. On the rare occasion that I do throw cannabis trash (like stems) in a trash can, I usually cover it in food trash or kitty litter so no one will want to go through it. Also, throwing away your cannabis-related trash on the day trash is picked up means there is minimal time for a snooping person to find your secret garbage.
- Make sure nothing stands out. Pick a couple days to walk around your house at a few different times of the day to see if anything stands out as suspicious. Example of something suspicious: Super bright yellow light (HPS) coming from a window at 11:00pm. Learn how to make a stealthy exhaust system.
- Be a good neighbor! A lot of people think of cannabis growers as criminals. When you continue to act like the intelligent, well-mannered, amicable person you are, your neighbors naturally become less suspicious!
- Don’t look like a stereotypical stoner! There’s nothing wrong with wearing Rastafarian colors or pro-cannabis clothing, and it’s your right to dress and act as you wish. Just remember that police, nosy neighbors, and marijuana haters are more likely to ‘judge a book by its cover’ and harass a person based on their clothing…regardless of how unfair that is.
A Google search for “house fire marijuana” will yield stories for events in at least 7 cities (in the first 2 pages alone) where people have accidentally burned down their cannabis, their home, and everything they own in electrical fires. Most electrical safety mishaps can be prevented with a few healthy habits:
- Only purchase quality equipment. Quality parts mean fewer failures, which means fewer fires started. Fire is bad!
- Keep water and other liquids below waist level and electrical equipment above waist level. Even if this isn’t always possible, it will help to accomplish the real goal: keeping water and electrical devices separated.
- Clean up all spilled water. Having a few towels or a roll of paper towels handy makes this a breeze.
- Get a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)! These are made to interrupt power when they sense a problem with the flow of electricity. These devices can also save you from being electrocuted, so they’re definitely worth the investment.
- Don’t overload your circuits. If you live in an older house, you probably don’t want two 1000w HPS lights and high powered exhaust fans running from one room unless you know how much your circuits can take. Sticking only to what you actually need will help you in this department. For example: for indoor growing that’s strictly for personal use, a single 600w HPS can keep most people in constant over-abundance all year, every year.
- More Electrical Safety Tips (including how to figure out how much electricity your circuits can handle)
Technology and the way we communicate changes so rapidly these days, that many of us aren’t aware that we now do things that give away a lot of information about what we do. You don’t need to be a computer wizard, but these terms will definitely help you maintain your privacy in the digital age:
- Proxy: Many websites track your computer information and where you are. Proxies trick those websites into thinking you’re in a different place. Here’s a free site to try: http://www.vpnbook.com/webproxy
- Anonymous Search: I love Google and use it often, however, they do track information about searches. Google is still safe to use for normal use, but for things pertaining to cannabis, try a search engine that doesn’t track information, like https://duckduckgo.com/.
- Exif data: Exif data is a little chunk of information that comes attached to pretty much any picture you take nowadays. This can be dangerous if the picture is taken on a device with GPS (such as a smart phone), because the data will also include the location where the picture was taken! Follow this link for text instructions on how to remove this data from your photos.
Know the Law
In the U.S., many states have their own laws on how marijuana is treated. Some states will send marijuana users to jail for years, some will give them counseling, others will just give a fine, and some do nothing at all.
However, it’s important to remember that marijuana is still illegal according to U.S. federal law, as well as the law of most countries. In fact, cannabis is still classified as ‘Schedule 1’ with the US federal government; Schedule 1 is the highest (worst) classification a drug can have, and cannabis shares the classification with hard drugs like Methamphetamine and Heroin. Although this classification is obviously motivated by reasons other than public safety, it’s important to remember that you can still be prosecuted and jailed just the same.
It’s imperative that every grower spend at least a little time making sure they know the laws that apply to them to help minimize the risk of being prosecuted. Here are some resources to get you started:
- U.S. residents, see NORML’s page on marijuana laws state-by-state: http://norml.org/laws
- Outside of the U.S., get the basics at Wikipedia’s page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis
This is a lot of information, and it still only barely scratches the surface of what it takes to grow stealthily. Over time there will be more pitfalls to watch out for, but growing your own cannabis has actually gotten easier and safer over time.
If you have quick, easily digestible tips to share, feel free to contact us!
What tools do you need for Stealth Growing?
- Silent Air Pump (for hydro)
- Low-noise Water Transfer Pump (for changing your reservoir when growing with Hydro/Bubbleponics/DWC)
- Incredibly Quiet Exhaust Fan (though expensive and HUGE)
- Pretty Quiet Exhaust Fan (a good mix of quiet vs price/size)
- Duct Silencer (these can help muffle noise by about 50%, but it won’t make it silent, it you can put one before and after the fan that works the best, though you can use just one on the exit side for pretty good results)
- Carbon Filter (learn more about how to use carbon filters correctly)
- Odor Neutralizers like ONA, diffusers or candle candles, and diffusers (for use in living areas, not the grow room)
- Read the full tutorial on how to control smells
- DuckDuckGo.com – A free search engine that doesn’t track you or what you search for
- Tor Browser – Browse anonymously!
FOR SERIOUS GROWERS ONLY
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