Ms Stinky has shamed me.
Back when she first hung the “complete noobs guide to growing”, we talked about doing a “ noob's guide to grow-room set-up”. I never got around to it- then I saw her “ garden type examples thread”, and it guilted me into getting my ass in gear.
So here we have ( at ) it- the “ Komplete Noob's guide to setting up your first growroom.”
I'm gonna start with some meta stuff- questions to ask yourself before you even start. After that, ( I think) I'll try to cover reflective materials, ventilation setup/ odor control, hanging and alignment of lights, and whatever else comes up as we go. We'll see.
Let's start with the ultimate meta-question-
What is your goal for this project?
(I'm specifically not going to talk about grows of over 1200 watts in a single space- I think that's a reasonable cut-off between personal use and small-commercial gardens. Most folks who are burning more than two 600's in flower are producing enough over headstash to be .be producing a small income stream, and the crazed Maoist in me wants to let them figure it out for themselves. For folks who are leaning that way- be advised that ventilation, in particular, does not always scale up linearly.)
Are you hoping to grow to cover your own smoking? How much do you smoke a month? (Keep in mind that you are automatically supplying everybody else in your household that smokes.) How much does your household smoke in a month?
If it's just you and maybe a spouse/partner, and you only smoke a few times a week, you could get away with a 250w hps, in a 2x2 or 2x3 foot space. I know that people work in smaller spaces, but it's never struck me as a good place to start- and most of the folks I've known who were under CFLs wished that they had the HPS 250. T-5 florescents are another good choice- esp. if there are ventilation issues.
Daily smoker? Husband/wife/roommate of a daily smoker? You'll want at least a 400w HPS for flower, and a 600 if you share a lot.
Multi-Smokestack household? A 600HPS will probabley keep up, but three Marley-types will want to go to 1 k. If you see yourself scaling up to small commercial, go for the 600- they scale up nicer, IMHO.
How serious do you think you're going to get? Are you the kind of person who gets caught up in hobbies, or do you pick things up and put them down as the mood strikes? If you are- move up one light size. (ie, from 250 to 400, or from 1K to two 600's). Have a look at Rock.Steady's guide to see what I mean. ()
What's your budget? ( Throughout this I'm going to point toward what I feel is best practical practise, though I'll try to sketch out both minimal and best possible as I go along. I'm sure a LOT of folks are going to disagree with me about best practical approach- feel free to comment. Do me a favor, though- quote the part that you're disagreeing with, so we don't have to be scrolling up and down as much in the inevitable pie-fights.)
Anyway, if you're thinking about setting up, you should have a space in mind. Picking a space is a very important decision- I'd plan it out through harvest and drying before I so much as cracked a seed.
Really, the ideal space for a personal grow is a 4x4 to6x8 basement closet with a solid, lockable door and a window, with an exterior wall that's far away from any trafficked areas. Life, unfortuneatly, is rarely ideal. There are quite a few factors that make for a good growing space- so as you think about a spot, I'm going to ask you to answer a few questions, we'll assign scores to different answers, and try to come up with a formula for choosing a “room” to grow in.
The best way that I can think of to do this is a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the low or minimal end, and 5 being the best you can think of. We'll end up assigning each question a multiplier value so that we can rate the relative importance of each factor. In example, the conveniance of not having to carry water too far is important, but NOWHERE NEAR as important as discretion/security. I'd much rather carry water than handcuffs. I'm also going to define some of the questions as we go.
A.) Is the space the right size?( 1-5)
I'd say the minimum size for a 250 is 2x2, for a 400 3x4, for a 600 4x4, and for a K 5x5.
I'd also say that the maximums are 3x3, 4x5, 6x6, and 8x8 repectively. 4-6X8 is a nice configuration for two 600's. (I'm sure that we'll get a bunch of opinions about this.) If it's too big, will you be able to cut it up?
B.) Will you be able to provide enough fresh air? (1-5)
How accessible is ventilation? Is there a window? Attic hatch? If you're thinking small box, will one side be against a wall, allowing you to cut ventilation holes?
C.) Is the space private? (1-5)
Is there any reason for anybody else to need to access the space with no or little notification? Do you rent? Do you have tenants? Are there circuit breakers or plumbing shutoffs in the space? Water heaters? Does the space have a “wet wall”?
D.) Is the space discreet? (1-5)
Is it close to your front door? Have windows facing the street? Would the mailman/ oil delivery guy/ pizza guy ever notice anything?
E.) Is there adequate power? (1-5)
Will you be able to run your choice of lamp, plus another 50% to cover fans, pumps,etc?
You can't run more than a K safely on a 15 amp circuit- Well, yeah, two 600's, but you won't have room for as much as a clock-radio by the time you're done.
F.)How far do you have to carry water?
( in-room water would be a 5, up two flights of stairs a 1)
G.) Is the space stable in terms of temperature? (1-5)
Are you going to bake in the summer, or freeze in the winter? Attic temps bounce around a lot, from way-too-hot to freakin freezing, depending on insulation. Basements tend to run nice and cool year-round. Living spaces are usually in the 65-75 range, and are OK- but I don't run central air, so my second floor bedrooms would probabley be too hot in the summer. Yours might or might not.
H.) Is the space available? (1-5)
Are you thinking about taking over the space where your wife keeps her knitting? Her ski's? Her chainsaw? Is this where your roommate keeps his comic book collection? Action figures? ( Growing in a group house is an exercise in politics that would make Kissinger sweat)
Now let's talk multipliers...
I'm going to assign some “ importance” multipliers, and I'll try to explain my reasoning. Feel free to offer your opinions/solutions- but again, please quote the passage that your critiquing, so my scrolling finger doesn't cramp.
A) appropriate size- On a 1-10 scale of importance, I'd say this is a 7- not critical, but important. It's important that you can make it size well- a 4x4 area of an 8x10 bedroom will work great for a 400, if you can partition it off so that you're not wasting light.
So a perfect size (5)would get you 35 points (5x7)
B.) ventilation- I'm going to say another 7. You can get around vent issues by upsizing fans, building lung rooms, etc- but thinking thru your ventilation is key! Great access would give you a 5, so you'd get 35 points ( 5x7).
C.) privacy- big ol' 10. (Do I have to explain why?)
D.)discretion- not as important as privacy- you can hide things in plain sight. Still, if I have a vent sticking thru the wall, I don't want it to be right by the front door. Let's call it an 8.
E.) Adequate power- HID lights suck a good bit of juice, and overloaded wiring can cause fires- which will get you clipped at best, or kill someone at worst. However, inadequate wiring isn't that bad to remedy. Try to avoid extension cords, and if you have to use them- buy, brand new, the heaviest extension you can find, in the correct length for your application. Extensions are expensive, but much less so then lawyers. ( No cords on the floor!). As this is fairly manageable, I'm going to give it a 5.
F.) Distance to water- is really a conveniance thing. Lugging H20's a drag, but not a deal- breaker. Call it a 3.
G.) Temp Stability- can make or break a grow. Again, it can be managed, but can be a real PITA- and even worse to try to retrofit a running room. Let's call it a 6.
H.) Availability- you really don't want to step on anybody's toes. No matter what, the grow will eventually cause friction with anybody else who lives in the space. On the other hand, if nobody's an asshole, you should be able to make it work- but if push comes to shove, you'll get shoved. Try not to push. Let's give it a 4.
Ok, so take your “score” for each question and multiply by the appropriate “ importance” factor to get the weighted value of your answer. Then sum up the weighted values to get your spaces grade as a potential grow space.
The perfect space would score a 250. The worst space on earth would score a 50.
I'd give a score of 210 to 250 an “A”
170 to 209 a “B”
130 to 169 a “C”.
I would'nt even think about working in a space that didn't score at least a “C”- that's just asking for trouble. Y'all can if ya want to, but don't say that nobody warned you...
Room Prep- First things first. Go in there and shut the door. Turn any lights off. Wait five minutes... Can you see anything? At all? Any light anywhere?
If you're going to line the room in Panda, it'll take care of a lot of light leaks. If you're using mylar or white paint, you're going to want to fix the light leaks before you paint/hang- mylar in particular will let a lot of light thru.
Mylar Pros highly reflective
easy to hang
does not wear well
Cons makes noise in fans
Panda Pros very reflective
durable and cheap
Cons may be hard to source
hard to hang alone
White Paint Pro cheap
easy to apply
easy to repaint
Con messy to apply
must dry before plants go in
An easy way to light proof a door is to hang a length of panda over the door opening, with a self-adhesive zipper to close it up. Windows can be covered w/ panda or luan- I usually hang a mini-blind between the glass and the covering as camoflage. If you're going to vent thru this window, remember to leave it open a few inches before you cover it!
OT- this is all I'm good for tonight. I'm going to hang a couple of placeholder replies under this, so that I can edit in further narrative in a linear fashion.
I'd love to get people's feedback on this project.