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Home Sweet Grow: Pick The Right Spot For Your Indoor Garden Featured

Indoor grow room setup Indoor grow room setup

Realtors know that the three most important factors in a home’s value are: location, location, location. The same can be said of your indoor garden, whether you are a small-scale hobbyist or a commercial grand master grower.

The spot where you locate your garden is important for a number of reasons, both practical and aesthetic. First, you’re going to put a lot of money into that spot. You want that investment to bear fruit, literally. Second, you’re going to spend a lot of time there, nurturing your crop until it reaches maturity. You want it to be a place that’s easy to get to and to maneuver around.

On average it’s going to be three or four months before you can reap what you sow, so your first question should be: Will I be able to use this spot in an uninterrupted fashion until then? If not, choose another locale.

Once the crop gets going, you may also want to start a second crop, to be maintained in the vegetative growth phase until the first crop reaches maturity. This way, you will harvest more frequently; say, every two months instead of every four. You may ultimately have one garden of plants large enough to begin the bloom cycle when your first crop has reached maturity. Naturally, this would involve maintaining a separate and independent area for both grow-and bloom-phase plants, though the vegetative growing area is typically smaller in scale.

The location of your grow area will also affect its efficiency, including how much electricity it’ll drink up. Also, if your garden is maintained within close proximity to living areas or neighbors, the sounds, lights, and smells of your grow spot could be a problem.

In short, you’re looking for a place that will provide a hassle-free growing experience, and several key factors must be considered:

Insulation

A well-insulated area does a good job of containing your garden and improves the efficiency with which you can provide the optimal environment for healthy yields. Preferably, the spot has no windows, but if it does, you can cover and insulate them while maintaining aesthetics for outward appearances.

Clever grow room builders also sometimes construct “window boxes,” which insulate windows from condensation, sound, and light. They may also provide a source of fresh air intake or remove warmer, humidified air from the growing area. From the outside, the window appears normal; it looks like a regular window curtain or blind. Neighbors will appreciate this much more than covering your windows with unsightly plywood.

Sounds

Almost every indoor garden has some degree of audible rattle and hum. If you’ve got neighbors living above or below the growing area, this can be a big concern.

How much noise will your equipment generate? That depends on the type of growing equipment you install. Gardens lit with HID (high intensity discharge) lights require lots of cooling, which means having fans and air conditioners, or sometimes a combination of both. Fluorescent-lit and especially LED-lit gardens aren’t as hot, so cooling requirements, and therefore noise levels, can be significantly reduced. Stealth gardens can be constructed in extreme circumstances, where virtually no noise is emitted, although sometimes compromising the overall performance of the growing environment created.

You’ll also need to think about acoustic tiling, which leaves a “dead space” between sounds and adjoining walls, so that vibrations (sound) are not transferred as readily to other areas. Heavy gym mats can be used on the floor to help prevent sound from traveling through to the ceiling for dwellers below. Always make sure to cover floors with durable waterproof material, extending at least a few inches above the baseboard, to prevent any potential leaks and spills from causing water damage or leaking below to announce to your neighbors that you are in fact an indoor gardener.

It is possible to construct a room that houses a commercial CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) system in a multiple-story dwelling and never know that it is there until you open the door. This is no small feat, as air conditioners, circulation fans, ballasts, and other growing equipment tend to create significant noise levels when all running at once.

Basements are often the best location for setting up your indoor garden. They are out of the way of regular foot traffic, are well insulated for sound, often have no windows, and usually have ample access to water, electricity, and drainage.

Electricity

Every indoor grow room requires electricity; often lots of it. The scale of your garden and growing system plays a key role in determining just how much juice you will need. The average household circuit is rated for 110/120 volts at 15 amps. This allows you to safely run one 1,000-watt HID light per circuit, with maybe a small fan also plugged into the same circuit.

An important question: Will you be able to safely and easily access the amount of electricity your garden will require? Qualified and trained persons can redirect electricity from unused circuits to the garden with minimal disruption to the building, and can easily re-connect existing circuits when the garden is dismantled after use.

Water

All plants also require water. This means that you must have easy access to water for the garden. For smaller scale grows, this is as easy as filling a bucket with water and carrying it into the growing area. A single large plant can use four liters of water per day, so consider how practical or easy it will be to carry in this volume of water. If it’s hard for you to water, your plants—and therefore yields and crop quality—will likely suffer.

All of this water will need to drain off somewhere, as well. For the health and performance of your crop, you need to overapply when watering. This helps wash away nutrient residues, which may be accumulating in the growing medium. For hydroponics growers, large volumes of nutrient solution from reservoirs need to be emptied and refilled, at least once a week. Keeping potted plants on hydroponic “flood” tables allows growers to configure a drainage system, whether by simple flow of gravity or by mechanical pumps through a hose and out. Smaller scale gardeners may choose to apply excess nutrient solution or runoff to other houseplants or outdoor flowerbeds and vegetable gardens.

Crime

Indoor gardens can sometimes be enticing for bad guys, making it especially important that all aspects of your growing endeavors are contained.  Alarms systems, security monitors, and heavy steel doors with dead-bolt locks help to discourage unwanted visitors and potential thieves, adding extra piece of mind to improve your chances of success in having a healthy harvest. (See “Your One-Hour Security Makeover,” page 156.) You don’t need to turn your place into Fort Knox. You’re the best judge of the safety of the environment in which your garden will grow.

Finally, have fun. Locating a grow spot can be a very enjoyable experience. Enjoy the process as you think through these considerations. Keep looking until you find the right place, and you’ll soon be on the road to gardening success.

INDOOR GROW ROOM SETUP | Larger pots give your plants more room for roots. Larger roots mean larger harvests. When using smaller pots and higher  numbers of plants, be sure to provide adequate light penetration and air circulation so plants get lots of lumens and CO2.INDOOR GROW ROOM SETUP | Larger pots give your plants more room for roots. Larger roots mean larger harvests. When using smaller pots and higher numbers of plants, be sure to provide adequate light penetration and air circulation so plants get lots of lumens and CO2.
Illustration by Mike Sudal

 

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Erik shows off his grow chamber with LED lighting
Last modified on Thursday, 11 October 2012 15:22

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