Building your own growing area
There are a lot of things you need to take into account when building your own growing area. If you do it well from the start, you will enjoy a lot of advantages . Then you will be able to get started with growing the plants without having to solve all sorts of problems that emerge. It takes some time and energy, but well begun is half done.
You can build a growing area at different places: in the attic, in a bedroom, in a closet, in a basement, in a barn, etc. Choose an area of at least one square meter and a minimum height of 1.80 meters.
Advantages and disadvantages of different locations
The biggest problems of attics is the temperature. During summer they tend to be tropically warm, while during winter they get ice cold. A pitched roof can also cause a problem. In some places the roof can be too low, which prevents you from hanging a lamp. A possible solution is to reverse the day/night rhythm. When it's light outside, it's dark inside and vice versa. The advantage is that temperature fluctuations are smoothed. The lamps heat the place during the colder night so that in summer the temperature stays limited during the day. In winter you will probably heat your house more, which will keep the temperature in your growing area on a reasonable level. One disadvantage of reversing the day/night rhythm is that you will have to work at night. The plants have to be left alone when it's dark. Another problem is that the plants may get too hot at night. This may negatively affect the bud formation. Also keep into account that the lamps and fans make quite some noise and that this might be an issue for you neighbours, especially at night.
In a bedroom too temperature can cause a problem. In summer, south facing bedrooms can be quite warm, especially if the lamps burn during the day. In winter, north facing bedrooms can cool down a lot overnight, especially if the lamps are off. These problems can also be solved by reversing the day/night rhythm. A huge advantage of bedrooms is that they have nice straight walls and ceilings, which makes it easier to set everything up. Windows might be a problem. These have to be air and light-tight. Only use a window for discharging air if there is no other option. Because of the wind you never know where the odours are going. You also risk air being blown inside by strong wind.
Cellar A dry, not too cold cellar is probably the most ideal growing place. However, it can be hard to supply and discharge air and also the discharge of water can be problematic. On the other hand, cellars hardly ever need to be made light-tight. It is also fairly easy to control the temperature because cellars are insulated thanks to their underground location.
Be sure the floor is insulated well (e.g. a thick Styrofoam board), because the cellar floor is too cold for the roots. This also makes the discharge of waste water a bit easier.
If you have chosen a growing place, you have to make sure it is 100% light-tight. For optimal growth the plant needs 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness and 12 hours of uninterrupted light. If this process is disturbed, this can affect the yield or even cause the whole crop to fail. The plants become stressed and confused. So double check whether there are no holes or cracks where light seeps through. If this is the case, seal them with sealing or non-transparent tape.
It is important to not only make your growing area light-tight, but also air-tight. For one thing, because of the odour. As soon as they are flowering and produce beautiful buds, the plants start emitting a specific and strong odour. You do not want this odour to spread outside the room. You might become used to the strong flavour of your plants, but your neighbours might not. Secondly, bugs can come inside through the tiniest of cracks and ruin the growth of the plants. Thirdly, it is important to have a well-insulated room so you can control the temperature conditions yourself. So make your growing place air-tight by sealing all cracks and crevices.
Once you have made your growing place air and light-tight, you have to think about the temperature of the room. If you create the ideal climate for the plants, they will grow well and produce a maximum yield. For optimal air circulation you need one (ore more) fan(s). By constantly circulating the air, the fan ensures an even distribution of temperature, humidity and C02 (carbon dioxide). With a dimmer you can set the speed of the van. If your budget allows for it, you might want to invest in a thermostat, a humidistat or a thermo-humidistat. You can use it to set the desired maximum temperature (around 28 °C).
With a humidistat or a thermo-humidistat, you can control the humidity level. If the room becomes too humid, the excess air is sucked away until the optimal humidity level is reached. All you have to do is to set the proper humidity level and the humidifier will keep the humidity of the room constant. A humidifier is especially useful during the growth period. A plant can grow twice as big if the humidity level is optimal.
You have to make sure that there are air vents at one side of the room and in the floor. This way, CO2-rich air can come in. At the other side of the room, you have to install and extraction system with a carbon filter. A carbon filter and an extraction system are essential for a good growing place.
You also need an extraction system with an activated carbon filter. Cannabis plants need carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow. They get this CO2 from the air. If you fail to provide the growing area with fresh air, the plants will use up all CO2 in the air. Growth will slow down and plants will become less healthy. An extraction system sucks the CO2-depleted air outside, which automatically brings CO2-rich air inside. The system also removes the typical odours that are released during the flowering phase. A carbon filter is a large tube filled with carbon. The carbon absorbs the chemicals responsible for the odours and neutralises them. Carbon filters do not last forever, so I replace mine every year.
A cannabis plant needs light to be able to grow. If you want to grow cannabis indoors, you will therefore have to purchase a lamp. The length of the night is very important for cannabis plants, so always use a timer switch to ensure a regular cycle. You can choose lamps of various wattages for growing cannabis. You can choose from 400 watt, 600 watt and 1000 watt. The more light, the better the yield will be. Ideal for indoor growing are high pressure sodium (vapour) lamps. I replace my lamps, just like my carbon filter, every year for an optimal light intensity. Suzy’s Tip: Start with the cheapest and simplest set up Air or water cooled variants can always be purchased later. First try if the basic equipment is sufficient.
A reflecting screen in your growing space makes sure that the plants can profit optimally from the light. Light = weight. The amount of light a plant gets will greatly determine the final yield. Mylar film is the best you can use to make a screen. It reflects about 99% of the light on your plants.
I put my plants in a container so I can easily clean up the place. I made it myself using wood and plastic. It's not that hard. I succeeded and I'm not really a handywoman. All waste, such as potting soil, dead leaves and waste water remains in this container. As soon as you have harvested, you can easily remove everything and clean the place, so it is ready for the next batch of plants. A container is also useful when you water your plants. By giving your plants lots of clean water, you remove the excess nutrients and fertilisers. When they are in a container, you can easily water the plants without making a mess. You can also fill the whole container with nutrients, so all plants can profit from them. They can decide how much water and how many nutrients they want to absorb.
When I leave for a weekend, I fill the container with water and the plants decide for themselves how much water they need.
Ready for use
Your growing space is now ready for use! You can read more about the next steps on our website.