Even though cannabis cultivation is becoming more widespread, most at-home cultivators continue to grow their plants in private.
Indeed, even states with lax recreational laws require residents to plant cannabis far from public view. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many at-home growers are still proudly “in the closet.”
Although soil remains the dominant growth medium in closet set-ups, that doesn’t mean home-growers can’t use hydroponics.
In fact, there are now dozens of closet-friendly hydroponics systems marketed at home-growers. Any at-home cultivators who want to try their hand at hydroponics could easily create a closet grow set-up.
OK, so now you’re probably wondering why you’d want to use hydroponics in your grow closet. Are these watery systems really worth the worry?
Well, proponents of hydroponics systems claim you can grow more buds in a fraction of the time it takes in soil.
Hydroponics growers also won’t have to worry about soil-related diseases or pests. Thirdly, since you’ll have to add all of your nutrients to the hydroponics unit, you’ll enjoy far greater control over your grow cycle.
However, there are a few trade-offs home-growers need to account for before ditching dirt.
Most significantly, hydroponics units are far less forgiving than soil. Growers who use hydroponics need to be super vigilant about pH and nutrients.
Also, since you have to add so many nutrients to hydroponic set-ups, they tend to be costlier than soil-based mediums.
Once you’ve decided you want to create a hydroponic grow closet, you first have to determine how you’re going to insulate your grow space. For maximum indoor yield, you need to concentrate the power of your grow light and maintain a consistent climate.
In most cases, home-growers rely on professional grow tents for all their insulation needs. Most of these grow tents have reflective Mylar coatings to help intensify your LED or HID lights.
These tents also have high-thread exteriors to prevent light spillage and create a warm interior. Plus, since grow tents are now available in various sizes, it’s easy to find models that fit in grow closets.
Although a professional tent will make your life easier, that doesn’t mean youneed them to set up a hydroponics grow closet.
Indeed, people who are into DIY projects might want to consider building a wooden grow box. There’s also a growing community of cannabis enthusiasts who use computer towers to create a cultivation space.
When setting up your grow closet, the two most important factors are that it works for your plants and that you’re comfortable operating it. As long as you’re supplying your plants with the water, nutrition, ventilation, and light they need, you should have a successful closet grow.
For those interested in learning more specifics on professional grow tents, we encourage you to read this previous post on insulation. You could also look through Everything But The Plant’s impressive assortment of grow tents on this website.
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to enclose your marijuana plants, you should turn your attention to the right hydroponics system for your space. Although there are many different styles of hydroponics units, they all make use of a reservoir, tubing, and pots for your plants.
In most active hydroponics units, the reservoir will have an air stone and a nutrient pump to supply plants with regular oxygen, water, and nutrients.
For your convenience, most of today’s hydroponics models have automated settings that “feed your weed” at regular intervals. Indeed, many of the hydroponics units on Everything But The Plant have beginner-friendly automation systems, so be sure to check them out on this link.
Although there are many fantastic pre-made hydroponics systems on the market, DIYers can look into at-home projects.
For instance, some home-growers cut holes on top of a plastic tote, fill the bin with water and nutrients, and place net pots over the water. Other growers use five-gallon buckets and net pots to create a DIY DWC set-up.
Lastly, even though hydroponics units don’t require soil, you may need to buy some form of inert matter to put inside your pots.
The main reason for using these materials is to provide your plants with some stability as they mature. A few of the most commonly used inert materials include coco coir, perlite, and clay pellets.
If you’d like to learn more specifics on different hydroponics styles, then we encourage you to read through this previous blog post.
Understandably, space is a significant concern when evaluating grow lights for cabinet grows. Since closet grows are pretty cramped, you need to ensure the light you’re working with fits comfortably in your grow tent without getting too close to your plants.
Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all space requirement for grow lights. Each light has a different intensity, and cannabis plants respond differently to grow lights at different stages of development.
As a rule of thumb, you should have 2.5 – 3 feet of space between your grow light and your plants. The only exception to this rule is fluorescent bulbs. Many home-growers like using fluorescents in the seedling phase because you can place them very close to your plant without burning them.
Thankfully, most manufacturers place a recommended distance on their grow lights to help you accurately gauge what works best for your space. While you’re researching light distance, please don’t forget to figure out the dimensions of your grow light and analyze how it will fit in your grow tent.
FYI: there are many high-quality LED and HID lights on Everything But The Plant. Click this link to find out more about our grow light portfolio.
Since closets are such a cramped grow environment, it's imperative to figure out a way to easily keep your grow space well-ventilated. Not only will proper ventilation help regulate temperature and humidity, it also produces heartier plants that are less prone to mold.
Be sure to add a small fan to your grow tent to provide your marijuana with a gentle breeze. You should also double-check your grow space has an exhaust vent on the top to allow hot air to escape.
Closet growers should also invest in a high-quality carbon filter and attach it to the exhaust inside your tent. This neat contraption uses activated charcoal to suck out all of those dank aromatics before they escape the exhaust vent. Even if you’re living in tight quarters, nobody should catch a whiff of your gardening pot-ject!
High-quality nutrients are not optional in hydroponics growing. Unlike soil, hydroponics won’t naturally supply plants with trace amounts of micro or macronutrients. For this reason, you’re 100 percent responsible for adding the proper nutrients to your hydroponics unit.
Before purchasing your grow nutrients, please verify the brand you’re buying is verified for hydroponics. Many novice cultivators make the mistake of using soil-based nutrients in their hydroponics set-up. There are significant differences in the potency and quality of nutrients for soil versus hydroponics, so using the wrong nutrients could seriously alter your grow operation.
But even the highest-quality nutrients won’t mean a thing if your pH is off. The water in your hydroponics system must remain at a constant pH of 5.5 – 6.5 to allow cannabis to absorb nutrients. Having a reliable pH tracker as well as pH adjustment chemicals are crucial for a successful hydroponics operation.
If you’d like to learn more about powder and liquid nutrients, then please feel free to read through this previous blog post. By the way, Everything But The Plant also offers plenty of hydroponics-friendly nutrients on this webpage.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that smaller strains do better in smaller places. Hence, most closet growers tend to prefer growing autoflowering and indica strains in their hydroponics unit.
The main challenge with growing sativas at home is that they require a ton of space. Although it’s not impossible to grow these strains in your closet, you’ll need to understand the basics of LST to keep your sativas far enough away from the grow light.
Before choosing what cannabis strain to grow, be sure to do some research on its typical size, appearance, and yield. This data can help you envision how much space your chosen strain will take up, how many plants you could fit in your tent, and the best training method to employ.
Although hydroponics growing requires more diligence than working with soil, it often rewards home-growers with above-average yields and fast flowering schedules.
Plus, now that there are so many hi-tech hydroponics units on the market, even people with tiny grow closets could give this grow style a go. As long as you keep all the primers listed above in mind, you should have a fantastic experience growing ganja in your hydroponics closet set-up.
If you have any questions about the hydroponics units available on Everything But The Plant, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly staff on this Contact Us page.
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