Most of us consider tents to be a one of the better ways to grow your plants indoors on a small scale, even stealth. Of course this is true, they do make for a great small gardening solution. But you must also think about the benefits they can present for a large or even commercial grow. They are also easy to tear down and move to different locations.
Also once you have figured out a good set-up that works for you and produces quality yields. You can simply move or even recreate it in different areas. They can also provide for a testing grounds. Separating a small batch grow to test new grow methods or products.
Grow tents are a fairly new system. Before them indoor cultivators would have to construct permanent, unmovable grow rooms. Of course this was a huge disadvantage. Constructing a grow room is expensive and would require the use of lumber, chains and other hardware. Installing the material for the grow room may even include drilling holes and damaging floors.
Constructing a grow room from scratch still does appeal to a small crowd of enthusiast. But a commercial or high quantity grower will benefit from creating a large growing tent.
The first commercially available hydroponic grow tent was produced by a company in Germany. It quickly caught on and gained popularity amongst European cultivators. Not long after that we here in the U.S started to take notice. American base companies as well as their European counterparts made big steps towards the evolution of this new technology.
Never waste your money on a cheap grow tent, they are just not worth it. You may be able to save a few hundred dollars or so by picking up a cheaper alternative. Or by buying a less expensive tent that’s not made suited for your intended plants. Remember, this structure will need to hold the weight of the lights and possibly other equipment like a carbon filter, dehumidifier and fans.
A strong and sturdy frame is the backbone to for the tent.You need a 100% metal frame that interlocks at the joints. The connectors should also be made out of a metal. Plastic connector, although they may seem strong enough will wear down and age quickly.
Here are features you should expect:
You must have the foresight to predict the size and density of your crop. A lot of first time indoor growers don't take that into consideration. Your plants will grow and hopefully large and full. They will need room to expand and stretch out. Some manufacturers have tents that can adjust in height, raising as your plants grow.
Although there is no real standard for sizing. Manufacturers seem to be sticking to a few certain dimensions. You will come across some variants, but not usually. Adjustable sizes are also available, or some adjustments in size can be made.These prices do not include equipment, this is just the tent itself.
Usually, unless your purchase a special grow tent package, the tent will not come with all the equipment needed to start growing. Here is a small checklist you can use to compare. A lot of “closet” cultivators will have additional items for their garden. This should be considered a minimum.
When considering your lighting, I would really suggest LED grow lights. LED’s do cost more initially but they are way more efficient, cost less to maintain and require less parts. Aside from that they are self regulated by a computerized control board. A pH meter and the fertilizer are not usually packaged with a hydroponic kit. A note on fertilizer, they are not all created equal. So take some time and do the research.
After you have researched a few tents and decided on the best one for your needs, its time to start setting up your grow room. We are going to have to set aside a bit of time towards planning first. Although you can get by just putting everything together, once the plants grow larger and start to flower, making adjustments won't be easy. Planning your set-up
The most important step and your first step should be planning. You should already had a room or space in mind before purchasing your tent. Lets examine what you need to take into consideration.
Easy access to water and drainage. If you are able to run a hose into the assigned area, even better. But you should at least be able to carry a few buckets into the room. With hydroponics the majority of the water will be needed at first. After your hydroponic system is up and running you may need to add more water time to time. A complete flush out may also be necessary at some point.
Electric outlets and for larger grows a dedicated circuit would be best. Grow lights , especially HID’s will require a lot of juice. LED Lights will draw a little less but its best to be prepared for higher energy consumption. Besides the lights, you will need to power other equipment, the fans, exhaust blowers, hydroponic pumps, etc. If you are handy, adding a dedicated circuit to your electrical fuse box shouldn't be to difficult. But if you're not comfortable with electrical work hire a professional. As an added precaution, you can even install a single switch fuse box in your grow room. This will make it a lot safer and they don’t usually cost to much extra.
Depending on where you live, ventilation is very important. If you are is the countryside any window will work. In suburban and urban area be sure to plan your route of ventilation. Cannabis will require the proper amount of fresh air ventilation to grow. Also a budding, plant will become very pungent. You may not be bothered by the scent, but your neighbour might.
So, pointing your exhaust towards an adjacent home may not be the best idea. In the same respect, your intake vent should not be pulling air from the mechanic shop. Clean oxygen rich air works the great, if you can get it.
Air circulation is self contained in your tent. The amount of fans you will need to set up depends on the cultivation tent size. A light breeze will simulate a natural outdoor setting and encourage stronger, thicker stems.It is important to stimulate your plants stems. Not only will thicker stems produce healthier buds, but they will be strong enough to support the weight. It may also promote a longer budding cycle, in-turn more yields.
Now that you have a draft planned out, out at least a good visual out what you will be doing, its time to build it. If you decided to go with the grow tent kit, setting it up should take to long. The tent itself may only take a few minutes, if its the first time, it can take up to an hour the most. Rarely will it take more than 30-45 minutes.
Start with an adequate work space, clear enough room to build your tent as well as move around the outside. Don't store the lighting, fans, pumps, etc to closely. If you damage your lighting or break a bulb, it may set you back and delay your project.
Tent Your tent may be a PVC frame with PVC connectors that get pushed into each other. A metal frame is a better option for larger tents, but it all depends on your situation. You may be hanging the lighting on the frame, make sure it's sturdy and strong enough to support it.
A specialized cover is used over the frame. The canvas will have a highly reflective material on the inside, the outside material should be thick enough that no light can seep out. Cheaper material will be easy to identify, its usually thinner, light shines through and the inside reflective coating wrinkles. The cheaper stuff may also melt or even start a fire. So go with a quality tent!
Note on Wiring Now that you have your grow tent standing, the easy part. Take a few minutes here to run your electrical setup. Run the surge protectors into place, remember to fix them at least one foot off the ground. Ideally, you would like to have all electrical components, this includes wiring and equipment, 6 inches to one foot of the ground inside the tent. Its rare but possible to have a leak or spill.
Ventilation Its time to get started setting up a grow tent ventilation. A good ventilation kit should come with everything you need. If your intake vent is less than a couple of feet, you can get away with only using an extractor vent fan. If its over 5 feet long, you may need an intake fan for proper air flow.
Air scrubber ( carbon filter ) The grow tent carbon filter setup is usually simple. If instructions are not available there should be detailed information on the net. The carbon filter works by neutralizing the odor travelling through the exhaust vent. A carbon filter may be needed depending on where you live. Dumping waste air straight out may upset your neighbour or attract unwanted attention.
Take a Step Back Its important every now and then to take a set back and look over what you have set up so far. Envision the complete set-up and compare it to what you have. Don't jumble things together. Venting should be suspended and out of the way. As so should be the wiring. There shouldn't be any thing laying across the ground and you should be able to move freely inside the tent at this point.
Hydroponics and grow lights First suspend your lighting centred to the growing area. Use a chain that can easily be adjusted. If you're working on a larger area and will be using more than one light, keep in mind that you will be adjusting the height as your cannabis thrives. So small walk ways will be needed to access the lighting. Once again, using zip ties, run wiring along the frame and to the surge protector. The light wiring should be near invisible.
Set your planting area directly under the lights. Wires on the floor at this point may be unavoidable. That's OK, you may want to duct tape them down or just be aware of the placement.
Oscillating Fans A 10x10 grow tent will be fine with 2 fans on opposing corners. You can have 4, one on each corner at a low setting. They should be at about shoulder height. Any lower or higher would require adjusting later on. Shoulder height of just below works out the best.
CO2 For Grow Room
This is optional, but what a huge difference it can make. High times did a study showing a 40% increase in yields!! My buds have never been as dense as they have once I included a CO2 system. Even for small area cultivation, it can make a huge difference and you don't have to go for any expensive equipment.
If you are unfamiliar with carbon enrichment don't let that list scare you off. Also I would only really ever consider 3 of them, Dry ices, Co2 tanks and Fermentation.
Dry ice in grow room for Co2 enrichment Great way to provide Co2 for small areas. It can also help you regulate heat in smaller spaces that use HID / HPS lighting. A medium size chunk of dry ice is set in the corner of the room. As it melts Co2 is released. A 1 lb chunk is recommended for a room of 8x8 or less. It should last up to 20hrs, that should be plenty to keep flourishing plants happy. You will need to replace it once a day.
Co2 tank system This is probably the most widely used method for home and commercial grow rooms. They cost a little more but are a lot easier to run. Once you set up a compressed Co2 tank enrichment system you don't really have to do much else with it. The usual equipment needed is as follows:
Fermentation CO2 Enrichment Method : DIY CO2
My favorite, easy to set up and cheap CO2 enrichment for small to medium grow rooms. When sugar ferments its converted into alcohol and CO2. The best part of this setup is most of what you need can be found in a supermarket or laying around your home.
They can get more complicated but the most basic system works great and this is all you need. One 5 gallon bucket setup can provide CO2 in your grow tent for over a month.
Tips and thing you should know