Building Your Grow
by Bubba Kush
Welcome back everybody and I hope you all had a kick ass 4/20 holiday weekend last month. This issue we are going to start building out your grow. Hopefully, you have done your due diligence and negotiated through all the necessary basics such as making sure your electrical is safe and you have sufficient air conditioning. You should have also figured out your water source and drain location. Now that your room is totally empty, the carpets are torn out and the windows are boarded and sealed for light leaks, we can finally start building the grow. We are going to build a one light system for ease and ability get your feet wet faster. Adding lights later after you know what you are doing will behoove you in the future, and keep your investment at a minimal until you know you love to grow. So lets get setting the grow up!
Ok…I warned you that this is not a linear process and we have to always think ahead. The foundation of any grow is keeping your genetics clean, healthy and unstressed. That means having happy and healthy moms. We need to designate a proper spot for your mothers and clones where they will be happy and healthy. A large closet properly ventilated usually has room for both. If no closet is available, you will have to allocate part of your room by adding a grow tent, this will help determine the placement of your flower table location. Clones are very temperature sensitive while growing roots, so you need to keep the mom and clone area at a consistent temperature. You will not need a 1000-watt bulb to keep your moms alive and healthy, a 400-watt to 600-watt will serve your mothers well and not produce as much heat. A metal halide (MH) bulb produces the best spectrum for plants in their vegetative state. It is also important to regulate the growth of your moms so they don’t get too big too fast.
You want to bring as few problems into your grow as possible and the best way to do this is to start your grow from seed, which is the easiest way to avoid inheriting anyone else’s problems. You can start with feminized seeds to mostly guarantee all females (to start with non-feminized seeds we would need a separate article dedicated to breeding, and that is not the intent of this series of articles). I do not suggest using outside-sourced clones beyond the first time you bring them in your home if you have to go that route. Make mothers of everything you want to grow and try not to let your moms die or get too old. It is always fun to experiment with new strains and I encourage it to a point of diminishing returns. Every strain has its own unique personality, taste, smell, effect, etc… On the other hand I don’t encourage creating a potential problem by regularly bringing in other people’s infestations and mildews. It is no fun getting rid of bugs or watching your plants get mauled or rotted on the stem.
When you get you first round of clones or if you plan on bringing in new genetics regularly I suggest having a quarantine tent in your garage so you can bomb the hell out of the new plants with every pesticide known to mankind…that’s kosher of course. Slightly kidding but mostly serious…. you don’t want bugs or disease!!! A bug or powdery mildew infestation on their first crop will discourage any novice grower real fast and keep you from wanting to spend the time and effort to ever grow again. Ultimately, you want to find your couple or few flavor faves and perfect them. Try new flavors on the open market at reputable dispensaries with good genetics (and of course backed with a Bubba seal of approval…ha) and then try to find the genetics and start again.
I personally suggest — and every other experienced grower will agree — that being 100 percent in control from clone to harvest is the way to be. Inhereting other peoples problems is commonplace in this industry.
There is very little equipment needed for the moms and clones. Old fluorescents have been faded out and have been replaced with T-8 fixtures. They produce mucho more heat and, typically, I would only get a four-bulb fixture and only light two bulbs over your clone domes. It would behoove you to run a test to set the height of the light fixture above the dome. I set my T-8s at least six inches from the top of the dome but in a home grow you will have less control of the heat. Therefore, do a test run with the grow cubes in the domes without clones planted and continuously check the temperature while misting the lids of the domes. I have the best results when the inside dome temperature is 78-79 degrees Fahrenheit. This information will allow you to fix the light fixture at the right height and not have to mess with it again. It’s a pain in the ass adjusting those fixtures unless you have a large space.
Set up a simple flood table for your moms and put a small reservoir under the table beneath the drain hole. This will be a simple recirculating system with the nutrient in the reservoir underneath the flood table. Always keep in mind that this reservoir will need to be cleaned and sterilized every time you make new nutrients. Old nutrient should be dumped every three days and the reservoir needs to be scrubbed each time. A simple 1/4hp sump pump will suffice for both watering your moms and draining the reservoir. Otherwise, use a deck hose that is certified safe for drinking water and a watering wand to hand water your moms.
If you don’t have a nice closet, you will have to set up tents. They are mostly turn key, light proof and equipped with ventilation capabilities. They make great rooms within rooms. This leads into where we hang the big boy light that will produce the lovely flowers.
Let’s figure out where to hang that 1000-watt light. You will get decent results using a 600-watt but only if you have major heat restrictions. A 1000-watt high-pressure sodium (HPS) is your standard flower bulb. A standard 1000-watt light will put out a footprint of 16 sqft, or more simply stated, a four by four foot area. The new double-ended bulbs put out by companies like Gavita have a slightly larger footprint. I space my Gavitas at a five by five foot footprint. The choice of which lights to use depends on a few factors. Gavita hoods cannot be vented as their hoods are open and have no lenses. I personally hate lenses on my hoods and prefer not to vent the lights, which can be quite costly and sometimes tricky. Lenses get dirty almost immediately after you clean them and block more light and spectrum than sales people will tell you. There is a lot more maintenance involved in venting your lights. During cooler months, you will get condensation build up on the lenses of your hoods caused the mixing of the cool and warm air that is no bueno and a pain in the ass. The duct lines will also develop water buildup in and outside of the duct that will drip on your plants and floor…also no bueno. Venting your lights should be done as an absolute last resort to keep your room cooler. If you don’t plan on venting, pick a light, like Gavita, that is built specifically for operating without a lens for new electrical regulations. Just had to throw that in to be respectful of the Fire Department.
You want to hang the light in a location in the room that will allow you to have ample space to walk around the whole perimeter of the grow area. It is important to be able to look in at every nook in your grow area to spot problems such as infestations, mildews, molds etc. Always have the idea of cleaning your system as a constant thought in the back of your head. Design your room so it is as easy to clean as possible. Hang the light with the proper anchors and use a metal cable or chain if you plan on using a 600-watt bulb and will need to raise and lower the lights. I suggest when hanging a 1000-watt HPS that you fix it at ceiling height. Too much light can shock plants, which can stunt their growth, and I find that plants grow into the light as they can handle more intensity. A common problem I see in many grows is they put the lights down too close the canopy before they are mature enough to handle the intensity and they get stunted.
I have not seen 5×5 grow tables on the market yet so you will want to buy a 4×4 flood tray. White flood trays are the best as they reflect all wavelengths of light, unlike black trays, which absorb all wavelengths of the spectrum. A brief science lesson for those that don’t know how light works: the reason something is a certain color is due to the wavelengths of light reflected and absorbed by the object. For example, a plant is green because it absorbs all wavelengths of the spectrum and reflects green. That is why we see the plant as green and why we use green lights to look at the plants in nighttime mode. Green light is not absorbed by the plant and therefore the plant will stay asleep. You want as much of the light spectrum reflected on your plants as possible with the most complete spectrum your bulb can put out. Bulbs are specifically designed with customized spectrums to optimize plant growth in different phases of its lifecycle. I should have told you to paint your room white in the beginning…sorry guys! On the other hand, you want your nutrient reservoirs to be black, as a white reservoir will promote more algal growth that can be a bitch to keep clean. In a future column I will teach you a magic secret sauce that will clean all your trays and reservoirs like new when the time comes, and I have it packaged. Ha. For the time being, Hydrogen Peroxide will be your friend and enemy. It is very expensive and a tiny little drop will eat your skin in seconds…no bueno. Be really careful with the concentrated hydrogen peroxide that is sold at the grow stores.
The table that holds the flood tray should be metal, since wood is bad to have in a room. Wood holds moisture and provides havens for bugs to roam and hide. They make complete tray and table sets but remember to keep your reservoir black. We are going to hand feed for your first crop. Automating your system should be done after you have a couple crops under your belt and you have flooded your room a couple times.
We will set up the whole system in the next issue but I wanted to leave you with a little story about automating your plants with a drip system: Ok…so my dumbass was growing on the second floor of an apartment building in Topanga in Studio City, CA. I was a little wild back then, and that day I was literally dead to the world at around ten in the morning after partying all night with hopeful Hollywood rockstars. Suddenly, I was awoken in panic mode by my landlord and my neighbors below me. They were standing over me — mostly naked and smelling like a bar — looking at me and looking across the hallway to the other bedroom with the door open and 6000 watts of light blaring out. I pulled whatever I could muster up and looked at them, then looked at the room filled with four-foot slightly overgrown plants two weeks from harvest (stinking like Kush heaven) and the first thing I remember saying was “Am I going to jail?” So what happened was one of my drip lines had come loose from the dripper stake and was shooting water at the wall, which was draining into my downstairs neighbor’s apartment. Thank my lucky stars my landlord gave me two choices: chop it down and move or chop it down and stay. She was cool, and my neighbors were a gay couple who were pro marijuana. Shout out to all my gay bredren, love you guys and all the support. So lesson: don’t be a schmuck, love thy neighbor, and you are not a grower if you haven’t flooded a place. Listen to your Bubba.
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