So you’ve decided to start an indoor grow…we get questions all the time about what is needed to get started.
There are a lot of options available on the market making it very easy to feel overwhelmed.
As a beginner, some of the best options out there are complete growing kits. Most grow boxes, like the SuperCloset SuperNova LED Smart Grow Closet, come as kits, and there are numerous choices for grow tent kits as well. The kits vary from including just the basic items to having everything you could ever need.
We have written this guide to help you make sure you take everything into account when you’re building your set up.
The first thing you need to think about with a Grow Tent where you’ll be housing your tent. When shopping, things you’ll need to check for:
- Is it constructed of durable fabric with a highly reflective interior? You want one that can stand up to the day to day rigors. The reflective interior maximizes your lighting output.
- Is it waterproof? This can have a big impact depending on where it’s housed.
- Is it tall enough for you? You may not want to stoop. Also, consider plant height, and the required space between the plants and the lights. This height will vary depending on plants’ stage of growth, type of lighting, and if you’re growing on shelves or platforms.
- Is it roomy enough for you to maneuver around your plants and equipment?
- Is the tent “light-tight” with strong zippers and cinching vents and flaps? These provide for a well-sealed, controlled environment. Check for good-sized, meshed covered, intake ports when buying a tent if you plan to run with passive ventilation. Ventilation is discussed in further detail below.
- Are there multiple access points so you can easily tend to your plants from different sides of the tent if needed?
Grow lights are a major consideration and there is no shortage of options. It basically comes down to:
- Dimensions of your space
- Your budget
- Growing goals
- Power limitations
Check out our blog “Choosing a Grow Light” if you’re not sure which kind of lighting to go with.
An exchange of fresh air is essential for plants. They need a steady supply of CO2 or their growth will be stunted. There should be an exchange of fresh air about every three to five minutes while the lights are on, and even more often if heat is a big factor. So let’s talk about air ventilation and circulation.
Air ventilation and circulation inside your tent needs to mimic Mother Nature. As far as ventilation, most grow tents, unless they’re very big, will be fine with passive air exchange. This means you won’t actually need an intake fan to bring fresh air into the tent. An inline extraction fan which is mounted and vented out the port near the ceiling (hot air rises), will create negative pressure inside the tent by sucking the stale air out of the tent, while at the same time, pulling fresh air in from the ports near the floor of the tent.
You may choose to have an active air exchange by using an inline intake fan if the fresh air ports are much smaller than the extraction ports, if you’re combating high temps (i.e. running lights that throw off a lot of heat), or you have a very large tent. See the illustration below for the different setup examples.
For passive air exchange you’ll need:
- Inline extraction fan
- Carbon Filter (sometimes called a scrubber)
For active air exchange you’ll need:
- Inline extraction fan
- Carbon Filter (sometimes called a scrubber)
- Inline intake fan
- Filter (for bugs and large particles, if needed)
Carbon filters are necessary for “scrubbing” or removing the skunky smell that’s produced by certain plants. Even if you enjoy the smell, you may not want your whole house smelling that way. And if you’re venting to the great outdoors, your neighbors may not love it either.
Ducting and everyone’s friend, duct tape connect your ventilation. So, remember to pick those up. (You’ll actually want Aluminum Duct Tape...not regular duct tape.)
The air inside the tent needs to be circulated with oscillating fans. Remember we’re mimicking Mother Nature here with gentle breezes, which plays a big role in strengthening your plants. In a passive ventilation system, it will help pull fresh air into the tent. The number of circulating fans you run will depend on the size of your tent.
Let’s not forget about what you’ll be using to grow your plants in.
Just like everything else in the indoor growing industry, there’s a bevy of choices. If you’re using soil you’ll need pots. There are all kinds of pots out there. Plastic is inexpensive, and moisture won’t evaporate as fast as fabric. Fabric pots cost more than plastic, but if you’re thinking “green” then these will appeal to you. Both are reusable and come in a variety of sizes. It’s recommended that you use the biggest pots your space will accommodate. Your plants will love the extra root space.
What type of soil should you use? Many growers are going with living organic soils. These soils contain bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, insects, and worms – creating a soil food web, just like nature intended. Some growers believe these living organic soils produce a far superior end product.
Hydroponic systems are big on the scene now. There are many hydroponic mediums. Hydroton, rockwool, and coco coir are just a few. Growers using hydroponics say they bring their grow from seed to harvest faster. Unless you have a somewhat automated system the plants will be relying on you solely for their nutrients which are added to the water. Hydroponic systems are more expensive than soil systems.
It really comes down to how much work and attention you’re prepared to give your grow. Hydroponics will require the most attention to detail.
The whole point of growing indoors is so that you can control the environment. Huge variables to control are temperature and humidity. Ideally, your grow tent temps should range between 65-85 F. Photosynthesis (the process by which plants make food) only occurs at certain temperature ranges.
If the temperature is too high, your plants will lose too much moisture, and if temps are too low, growth will be stunted due to decreased nutrient absorption. Lower temps will also cause humidity to build up, leading to rot and mold which can cause your grow to fail.
Grow tent humidity should range around 40-70%. Too little humidity will cause growth to slow. Also, if the air doesn’t provide the water vapor that plants normally absorb through their leaves, they’ll take more in through their roots, and along with it, increased nutrients in the growing media, causing nutrient burn.
So, to recap the items you’ll need:
- Inline Extraction Fan
- Carbon Filter
- Ducting and Aluminum Duct Tape
- Oscillating Fan(s)
- Net Trellis
- Pots or Hydroponic System
- Growing Medium
- Thermometer/ Hygrometer - monitor your tent’s temperature and humidity
- Extension cords for your equipment
- Hangers for your lighting, if not included
- Timers for your lights and fans
- Nutrients which will vary depending on your growing media
- Measuring and mixing equipment
This will get you started. Are there other supplies you can invest in? You bet, the sky's the limit.
Growing indoors, just like outdoors, is a learning experience and can be very rewarding. Hopefully, you're clear now on what you need to get started. The key is to educate yourself and pay attention to detail.
Oh, and of course, Have Fun!