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As cannabis legalization continues to spread across the United States and other areas of the world, home growing is more widespread than ever before. Many states and Canadian provinces have laws in place that allow limited home growing for personal use.
This is a very liberating turn of events for cannabis enthusiasts. While many people will still choose to purchase their marijuana from dispensaries or adult-use stores, other people will opt to grow their own so they have an abundant supply of the exact strain(s) of flower they want. Some people will also want to breed and create their own crosses. This is a similar situation to home brewers who choose to brew their own beer at home and hone their skills at producing something special instead of buying beer and ale at a liquor store.
All home growers should invest in good cannabis genetics so they are able to grow potent, high-quality strains. Clones and seeds cost a good deal of money these days, so doing homework about the best strain choices is highly recommended. After all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
Genetics aside, there are some mandatory items that home growers should have in place or at their disposal while their crop is growing. The equipment used for home growing usually varies from what’s used for commercial grows because of the obvious scale differences of the two operations. Commercial grows have entire teams caring for them, with automatic watering systems and high-tech gadgetry that simply isn’t mandatory for a small home garden. This is not to say that a home grow can’t match the quality of a commercial grow—it most definitely can.
In fact, since home growers only have to monitor a small number of plants, minor adjustments in crop maintenance can occur at the slightest hint that a small problem may be occurring. Large commercial grows can have pervasive problems with certain pests and diseases that are much easier to prevent in home grows if proper protocol and practices are in place. Home growers should never have to use pesticides—natural or otherwise—because pests should never get a foothold in a small, closely monitored home garden.
To keep a small home grow free of pests and diseases, refrain from bringing plants from other locations into the growing area once it’s in full swing. If you use clones for your grow, acquire them from a reliable source. Carefully peruse each clone to ensure it doesn’t have a spider mites or other nasty creepy crawlies that will adversely impact your grow. Acquire your soil (which is the most common way to grow indoors) from a clean nursery or grow center, and thoroughly wash pots between grows. There is no reason why a grow room free from problems when the grow begins shouldn’t remain so through harvest.
Let’s examine some essential gear that every home grower should seriously consider owning—and using if necessary. While some of these items may not be critical to the ultimate success of a grow depending on its location, environmental factors, and the budget of the grower, each is worthy of consideration and has its place in a modern home grow room. Some of this equipment is essential in any grow room, and it would behoove any indoor grower to at least consider using each of them.
Quite a few pre-fab grow tents on the market suit the needs of some growers who have limited space. These self-contained tents can work well for a limited number of plants. The equipment listed in this article isn’t intended for grow tents, but rather for small rooms or closets converted for use as a grow space.
Obviously, grow lights are among the most mandatory equipment for any grow room. Without proper full-spectrum lighting in a closed grow-room environment, plants will fail to grow normally and thrive.
The most important thing to evaluate in the grow room is the square footage of space the plants will occupy, how many plants will go into the room, and how many watts will be necessary to fully illuminate the room.
A variety of lights will work quite well in home grow rooms. Any of a wide variety of 250-, 400-, or 600-watt lights will suffice in most cases, either singly or in combined with additional lights. The most common and effective light source to use for cannabis is high-pressure sodium (HOS) and light-emitting diode (LED) lights, but metal halide lights also work quite well, although their widespread use for cannabis is not what it once was. LED lights typically cost more than high-pressure sodium, but use less electricity and are more energy efficient. Grow lights come with a variety of hood shapes and styles. Depending on their design, hoods will concentrate light or disperse it over a wide area. Depending on the size and dimensions of the grow room, there will be a light and hood that works perfectly. For a small grow room, covering the walls with mylar will benefit the plants because the reflective surface will make the lights’ rays more concentrated within the room.
Never trust your memory to manually flip your lights on and off. Cannabis plants require exact light cycles during their vegetative and flowering phases of growth. The artificial photoperiods should be exact, so manually turning lights on and off is not precise enough. Once the lights are off, there should be no light leaking into the room. If this occurs, take immediate measures to prevent it. Because cannabis grow lights are high-watt devices, make sure your power cords and timers are appropriate for industrial, high-performance equipment. Avoid dangerous electrical issues by heeding this warning.
Thermometer, pH, and Humidity Meters
A well-equipped grow room will have a thermometer to track the ambient room temperature. If the room is prone to cold temperatures, using a heater with a thermostat will keep temperatures warm enough for the plants to thrive, which is typically in the 60- to 80-degree Fahrenheit range. Since most home grows use city water, monitoring your household water pH levels is important. A high percentage of city water has pH levels that are off a bit from the ideal range for cannabis, and they also have additives like fluoride and chlorine that do nothing to benefit the plants. For more suitable water with proper pH, use a pH meter, and purchase a pH booster or reducer to adjust levels that are outside of recommended range.
The ideal water pH for cannabis grown in soil is 6.0-6.8. For purer, cleaner water, a household water filter will keep tap water fresh and clean of unnecessary compounds and impurities. Monitor humidity with a reliable humidity meter, and make sure the room is within an acceptable range throughout the various phases of growth. Humidity levels of 65-70 percent is best for seedlings,45-70 percent for plants in vegetative mode, 40-50 percent in flower mode, and 30-40 percent preharvest. Failing to do so will allow molds and fungus to flourish. With proper humidity, air flow, and air circulation, you will be able to avoid all-too-common conditions like white powdery mildew and mold from adversely impacting your grow.
Fans and Vents
Air circulation is imperative in the grow room, to disperse air evenly throughout the room and strengthen the plants from the constant breeze a good fan or two will provide. The fan(s) should be set at a mild level, just enough to cause light leaf movement as the air travels across the plant surface. Unless the room is quite large, a good oscillating fan with adjustable height should be all that’s needed for an average-sized grow room. The air should circulate near the upper buds and leaves of the plants so that it helps dry any excessive moisture that should occur won’t get a foothold. Remove any large shade leaves that are resting on other leaves or flowers. Excessive moisture and ambient humidity can have dire consequences for a cannabis grow room.
Pots, Soil, and Additives
All pots are not created equally, so shop for pots of the appropriate size for your plants at maturity, and be certain that they allow for enough root development. What grows below the soil surface is just as important as what grows above, when it comes to plant health. A cannabis plant’s root system is how it absorbs nutrients and water, so 3- to 5-gallon pots should provide enough room for plants that will grow between 3 and 5 feet on average. If the pots are too small, you risk the possibility of the plants becoming root bound and unable to function at full capacity. Smart pots and air pots work very well for cannabis and also make overwatering nearly impossible. Other pots, constructed with a wide range of materials, can also work very well if there is adequate room for drainage. Use pot saucers or trays to avoid excessive spillage, which can lead to overly humid rooms, not to mentioned damaged floors.
When it comes to soils and soil additives to nourish the plants, choose organic products over anything with synthetic fertilizers. Organic growing will produce flowers that are just as large (perhaps even larger) with superior flavor. There are a wide variety of bagged soils and bottled additives on the market that work very well for cannabis. In fact, some companies now cater exclusively to the cannabis market, which does not necessarily mean they are superior—and many of them can be quite expensive.
Measured Watering Containers
Since most home grows will not have elaborate timed watering systems, a sturdy half-gallon- or 1-gallon-sized watering vessel will serve you well when watering. A pitcher or container of this size will allow you to add the precise ratio of nutrient that you need (many of them are mixed in varying amounts with a gallon of water). Making sure you don’t overdose your plants on nutrients will ensure you don’t experience nitrogen burn from too much fertilizer, as well as not enough. More fertilizer is not better and can detrimental effects, so heed this advice.
With careful execution of your home grow, there’s no reason why you can’t be enjoying top-shelf cannabis in a few months’ time. Growing your own product at home will ensure you grow organic strains of your choosing at a tiny fraction of the price of store-bought flower. Once you’ve harvested one successful grow, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.