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Set up the grow room before bringing in any plants. Construction requires space and planning. Once the grow room is set up and totally operational, the room will be ready for plants.

 

Step One: Choose an out-of-the-way space with little or no traffic. A corner in the basement or a spare bedroom is perfect. A 1,000-watt HID, properly set up, will efficiently illuminate up to a 6 x 6-foot room. The ceiling should be at least 5 feet high. Keep in mind that plants are set up about one foot off the ground in containers and the lamp needs about a foot of space to hang from the ceiling. This leaves only three feet of space for plants to grow. If forced to grow in an attic or basement with a low 4-foot ceiling, much can be done to compensate for the loss of height, including cloning, bending, pruning and using 400-watt lamps.

 

Step Two: Enclose the room, if not already enclosed. Remove everything that does not pertain to the garden. Furniture and especially drapes and curtains may harbor fungi. An enclosed room allows easy, precise control of everything and everyone that enters, exits and who and what goes on inside. For most growers, enclosing the grow room is simply a matter of tacking up some sheet rock in the basement or attic and painting it flat white. Make sure no light is visible from outside. If covering a window, do so discretely so that it is not boarded up. Insulate windows and walls so a tale-tell heat signature does not escape. Often basement windows are painted to look like the foundation. Place some stuff – books, personal effects, household goods, etc. – in front of the window and build a box around the things so that a natural scene is seen from the outside. At night, bright light leaking from a crack in an uncovered window is like a beacon to curious neighbors or bandits.

 

Step Three: Cover walls, ceiling, floor everything with a highly reflective, material like flat white paint or whitewash. The more reflection, the more light energy that is available to plants. Good reflective light will allow effective coverage of a HID lamp to increase from 10 to 20 percent, just by putting a few dollars worth of paint on the walls. Reflective white Visqueen® plastic is inexpensive and protects walls and floors.

 

A vent fan and an oscillating circulation fan are essential to keep a healthy environment.

 

Step Four: Constant air circulation and a supply of fresh air are essential and often inadequate. There should be at least one fresh air vent in a 10 x l0-foot room. Vents can be an open door, window or duct vented to the outside. An exhaust fan vented outdoors, pulling new fresh air through an open door usually creates an adequate flow of air. An oscillating fan works well for circulation. When installing such a fan, make sure it is not set in a fixed position and blows too hard on tender plants. It could cause windburn or in the case of young seedlings and clones, dry them out. If the room contains a heat vent, it may be opened to supply extra heat or air circulation.

 

Step Five: The larger your garden gets, the more water it will need. A 10 x10-foot garden could use more than 50 gallons a week. Carrying water is hard regular work. One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, 50 x 8 = 400 pounds of water a week! It is much easier to run in a hose with an on/off valve or install a hose bib in the room than to schlep water. A 3-foot watering wand attached to the hose on/off valve makes watering easier and saves branches from being broken when watering in dense foliage. Hook the hose up to a hot and cold water source so the temperature is easy to regulate.

 

Step Six: Ideally the floor should be concrete or a smooth surface that can be swept and washed down. A floor drain is very handy. In grow rooms with carpet or wood floors, a large, white, painter's dropcloth or thick white Visqueen® plastic, will protect floors from moisture. Trays placed beneath each container add protection and convenience.

 

Step Seven: Mount a hook strong enough to support 30 pounds for each lamp. Attach an adjustable chain or cord and pulley between the ceiling hook and the lamp fixture. The adjustable connection makes it easy to keep the lamp at the proper distance from plants and up out of the way during maintenance.

 

Step Eight: There are some tools an indoor gardener must have and a few extra tools that make indoor horticulture much more precise and cost effective. The extra tools help make the garden so efficient that they pay for themselves in a few weeks. Secure all the tools before bringing plants into the room. If the tools are there when needed, chances are they will be put to use. A good example is a hygrometer. If plants show signs of slow, sickly growth, due to high humidity, most growers will not notice the exact cause right away. They will wait and guess, wait and guess and maybe figure it out before a fungus attacks and the plant dies. When a hygrometer is installed before plants are in the grow room, the horticulturist will know from the start when the humidity is too high and causing sickly growth.

 

Step Nine: Set Up the HID Lamp.

 

Step Ten: Move seedlings and rooted clones into room. Huddle them closely together under the lamp. Make sure the HID is not so close to small plants that it burns their leaves. Move 400-watt lamps 18 inches above seedlings and clones. Place a 600-watt lamp 24 inches away and a 1000-watt lamp 30 inches away. Check the distance daily. Hang a precut string from the hood to measure distance.

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Disease and Pest Prevention/Control

 

Insects, mites and maggots slither into grow rooms, eating, reproducing and wasting weed. Outdoors, they live everywhere they can. Indoors, they live anywhere you let them. Fungi are present in the air at all times. They may be introduced by an infected plant or from air containing fungus spores. Fungi will settle down and grow if climatic conditions are right. Pests, fungi and diseases can be prevented, but if allowed to grow unchecked, extreme control measures are often necessary to eradicate them.

 

Prevention

 

Cleanliness is the key to insect and fungus prevention. The grow room should be totally enclosed, so the environment can be controlled easily. Keep the floor clean. Keep all debris off soil surface. Do not use mulch. Insects and fungi like nice hideaway homes found in dirty dank corners and under dead decaying leaves or rotting mulch. Growers and their tools often transport many microscopic pests, diseases and fungi that could ultimately destroy the garden. This does not mean growers and their tools have to be hospital clean every time they enter a grow room, even though that would be nice. It does mean normal and regular sanitary precautions must be taken. Growers that wear clean clothes and use clean tools reduce problems immensely. A separate set of indoor tools is easy to keep clean. Pests, diseases and fungi intrinsically ride from plant to plant on dirty tools. Disinfect tools by dipping in rubbing alcohol or washing with soap and hot water after using them on each diseased plant. Another quick way to sterilize pruners is with a hand-held torch. A quick heating with the torch will sterilize metal tools immediately.

 

Personal cleanliness is fundamental to prevent pests and diseases. Wash your hands before touching foliage and after handling diseased plants. Smart growers do not walk around the buggy outdoor garden, and visit the indoor garden; they do it vice versa. Think before entering the indoor garden and possibly contaminating it. Did you walk across a lawn covered with rust fungi or pet the dog that just came in from the garden outside? Did you just fondle your spider mite infested split leaf philodendron in the living room? Avoid such problems by washing your hands, and changing shirt, pants and shoes before entering an indoor garden.

 

Once a crop has been grown in a potting soil or soilless mix, throw it out. Some growers brag about using the same old potting soil over and over. Unknowingly this savings is repaid with a diminished harvest. Used soil may harbor harmful pests and diseases that have developed immunity to sprays. Starting a new crop in new potting soil will cost more up front, but will eliminate many potential problems. Used soil makes excellent outdoor garden soil.

 

Warning! Growers in Eugene, Oregon tossed their outdoor soil out in the back yard for many years. The soil was about 50 percent white perlite and had a distinctive color. This oversight eventually got the growers arrested.

 

Once potting soil is used, it loses much of the “fluff” in the texture. Compaction becomes a problem. Roots penetrate compacted soil slowly and there is little room for oxygen, which restricts nutrient uptake. Used potting soil is depleted of nutrients. A plant with a slow start is a perfect target for disease and worst of all, it will yield less!

 

Companion planting helps discourage insects outdoors. Indoors pests have nowhere to go and companion planting was not viable in the grow rooms that I have visited.

 

Super Size Secret: Always plant about 10 percent more plants than you plan to harvest. If one in 10 plants can become infected or sickly, remove them from the garden. Removing entire plants is the easiest way to isolate and control most pest and disease problems.

 

Plant insect and fungus resistant strains of marijuana. If buying seeds from one of the many seed companies, always check for disease resistance. In general cannabis indica is the most resistant to pests, and sativa’s more resistant to fungal attacks. When choosing mother plants, inspect them regularly for pest and disease resistance. I am always amazed when I see infested plants alongside healthy ones in the same garden.

 

Keep plants healthy and growing fast at all times. Disease attacks sickly plants first. Strong plants tend to grow faster than pests and diseases can spread.

 

Forced air circulation makes life miserable for pests and diseases. Pests hate wind. Holding on to plants is difficult and flight paths are haphazard. Fungal spores have little time to settle in a breeze and grow poorly on wind-dried soil, stems and leaves.

 

Super Size Secret: Preventing pests and diseases is much easier and more productive than eliminating an infestation.

 

Ventilation changes the humidity of a room quickly. In fact, a vent fan attached to a humidistat is often the most effective form of humidity control. Mold was a big problem in one of the grow rooms that I visited. The room did not have a vent fan. Upon entering the enclosed room, the moist humid air was overpowering. It was terrible! The environment was so humid that roots grew from plant stems. The grower installed a vent fan to suck out moist stale air. The humidity dropped from nearly 100 percent to around 50 percent. The mold problem disappeared and harvest volume increased.

 

Indoor horticulturists that practice all of the preventative measures have fewer problems with pests and diseases. It is much easier to prevent a disease from getting started than it is to wipe out an infestation. If pests and diseases are left unchecked, they could devastate the garden in a few short weeks

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