PNW will guide you through the five steps for creating the ideal indoor environment for your Cannabis plants to thrive in.
1- Tent Setup and Environmental Controls
3- Growing Methods
4- Organic & Synthetic Nutrients
5- pH & TDS
STEP 1: Grow Tent Setup and Environmental Controls
The Grow Tent
Your Grow Tent is the first step to an indoor garden. It provides a sealed room specifically for your gardening needs. The 4×4 and the 5×5 are the most widely recommended for new hobbyist growers.
Once the Grow Tent is assembled, you’ll need to learn how to control the environment inside your tent:
Exhaust and Intake Fans
Exhaust fans help remove excess heat and humidity from the garden and intake fans help bring in outside air for better air and CO2 circulation. It is recommended that thermostats are used with exhaust fans to reduce the risk of exhausting more heat than necessary.
Exhaust and Intake Charcoal Filter
Exhaust fans should all have a charcoal filter attached to scrub the air of odours exiting the grow tent. If an intake fan is used it should have a HEPA filter attached to eliminate any unwanted pests and mold spores from entering the grow tent.
A portable heater is important in a grow tent to help reduce the risk of having a cold growing environment. Make sure the heater has a thermostat attached so that it does not overheat the room.
A small air conditioner is helpful when an exhaust fan is not enough. You may notice the need for an A/C during the summer months.
Humidifier & Dehumidifier
A humidifier and dehumidifier’s intended use is to control your garden’s humidity levels. Make sure you have a humidistat attached to both to create ideal humidity levels in the grow tent.
Thermostat & Humidistat
Thermostats and humidistats are very important in a grow tent. These devices are used to dial in the temperature and humidity in the garden. They do this by turning exhaust fans, heaters, humidifiers, dehumidifiers on and off based on a temperature or humidity setting.
When a thermostat is attached to an exhaust fan for cooling, it will only allow the fan to function when temperatures exceed a certain setting. It would do the opposite for a heater. A humidistat will work in the same way with either a humidifier or dehumidifier.
Carbon Dioxide is very important in a grow tent. CO2 can increase yields by up to 30%. Plants grown with elevated CO2 levels are also better at resisting insects and diseases.
Thermometer & Hygrometer
Thermometers and hygrometers are devices that indicate what the temperature and humidity are in the grow tent. A typical digital thermometer will also be capable of displaying humidity levels.
Having more than one of these devices in a grow tent will allow you to get more precise readings of the overall growing environment.
Ideal places in the grow room to have these devices are above the light, at the canopy of the plants and below the canopy.
Oscillating fans should be utilized in a grow tent to avoid stagnate air and help better circulate CO2 throughout the plants. It will also help the plants build stronger stalks and branches. This will allow a plant to support heavier fruits and flowers for increased yields.
STEP 2: Lighting
The two most popular lighting systems used in a grow tent are LEDs and Ceramic Metal Halides.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
LEDs are energy efficient, use fewer watts and produce minimal heat. LEDs come in a variety of wattages and light spectrums suitable for all stages of growth.
Ceramic Metal Halides (CMHs)
CMHs are a new lighting technology that utilizes UV to increase yields while consuming less power. CMHs come in two wattage capacities, 315 watts and 630 watt1.
STEP 3: Growing Methods
Growing methods include growing in soil with pots, using a hydroponic system or assembling an irrigation system to eliminate the need of watering by hand.
When beginning your first indoor garden, you want to keep things simple. Using pots is an ideal way to start. We suggest using fabric pots as these provide more oxygen to the root zone and help increase yields.
Once you have harvested your first crop you can decide to continue with the fabric pots or upgrade to a more automated system1that saves you time and money.
STEP 4: Organic and Synthetic Nutrients
When it comes to feeding plants in a grow tent, hobbyist growers will have to decide if they want to feed their plants organic food, synthetic food or a combination of both.
Organic nutrients are suited best for hobbyist growers because costs are lower. Providing organic elements will encourage the growth of microbes and beneficial fungi in the soil. Using a compost tea will also foster this growth.
Synthetic nutrients are made from either combining raw elemental salts or by processing nutrients in fertilizer and making them immediately available for plant uptake. Because they are immediately available, the risk1of over-fertilizing 1ncreases.
STEP 5: pH & TDS
When preparing your nutrients, two key components need to be considered; pH and TDS.
The pH Scale
The pH scale measures acids and bases on a scale of 1 – 14. 1 is the most acidic, 14 is the most alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral, which is the pH of pure water. The pH of the nutrient solution affects what nutrients are available for the plant to absorb. Many plants and strains prefer different pH levels.
Total Dissolved Solids
TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids. You will measure these in your solution or run-off to determine the PPM (parts per million) of your solution. The higher the PPM, the more nutrients–the lower, your plants may be not getting enough. Always follow a feed chart and make sure your PPM is at the recommended level to avoid nutrient deficiencies and toxicities in your plants.
TDS (Total Dissolved Salts) is used to measure the number of salts in the nutrient solution when using synthetic nutrients. TDS meters provide the grower with the ability to determine how much nutrients a plant should receive based on its current state of growth.