My First Indoor Grow! Part 1: The Beginning
Hello ladies and gents. Buzz Killington here, back from the dead.
Several years ago, when I first moved from PDX back to California, I decided I was going to try my hand at growing my own weed in my back yard. I found a local farm where I could pick up some pure CBD AC/DC plants, and added a few other strains to experiment with. Everything seemed to be going just fine until I found the first caterpillar. It was all downhill from there. After harvesting the plants and starting to trim, I discovered the true scale of the problem, and everything went into the trash. That was about 5 years ago, and I haven’t tried again since. I had been defeated.
The only photos I could find from my first grow. At least the cat seemed to get something out of the whole experiment…
Growing outdoors seemed reasonably simple, because the only thing you really need to worry about is what kind of nutrients you’re going to use, and trying to avoid pests. Of course, I failed at the second part of that equation. But since you’re outdoors, you don’t need to worry about what sort of lights you’re going to grow under, because you’re growing under the sun. You don’t need to worry about setting up an exhaust system, ducting, carbon filter, fans, or any of the stuff that made my brain hurt when I started researching it. You don’t need to worry about a lighting schedule, because that happens naturally over time as the seasons change. To me, growing outdoors was the simple way to do things, and I didn’t have to spend a bunch of money on complicated equipment.
After the huge headache of trying to grow outdoors, I decided that if I was going to try growing again it was going to be indoors, inside of a grow tent. That’s when the analysis paralysis set in.
Not to go off an a tangent, but allow me to talk about The Internet for a moment. The Internet is a fantastic place to get any information that you could possibly ever want. However, The Internet is full of opinions. And when it comes to opinions, well, you know the rest. Cannabis growers are all INCREDIBLY OPINIONATED. Everyone seems to believe that their way of doing things is The Right Way. The Only Way. So when you’re a newbie, and you’re looking for advice, you are going to find conflicting opinions and conflicting information EVERYWHERE.
After years of sporadically doing research, reading forums, articles, and reddit, I finally decided fuck it, I was going to give it a shot. I got a tax return and picked up some equipment. After doing some research of grow tents, I discovered Gorilla Grow Tent. They’re widely considered to be the best grow tents on the market, and they’re local, which made it even cooler. They just released a limited edition camo grow tent, and being the hypebeast that I am, I couldn’t resist. Grow tents aren’t exactly exciting to look at… most of them are just black canvas. So finding one with a cool design totally appealed to the sneakerhead in me. After talking to some of their customer service guys on the phone for a while, I picked up one of their 5x5s.
While talking with the people at Gorilla, I discovered that they’re affiliated with Kind LED Grow Lights, so I wound up getting one of their XL1000s to stick in the tent. They even threw in a sample of a new line of nutrients they just released, so I was covered there too.
Let’s take a moment to discuss lighting, because holy shit. When you’re new to all of this stuff like I am, it can easily become a bit of a headache researching all of the options. The two main types of lighting used for growing cannabis are HPS and LED. I wound up going with LED for a few reasons. HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lighting tends to run hot, which requires adding even more equipment inside your tent to keep it from running too warm and damaging your plants. They also use WAY more energy, and will easily wreak havoc on your electric bill. I didn’t want to deal with those added headaches, so I went with LED. They cost more up front, but I was willing to pay the extra cost to not have to worry about buying more equipment and getting bent over by the electric company.
Speaking of spectrum, that’s yet another rabbit hole it’s easy to fall into. There are white LEDs on the market, and blue/purple LEDs. These all have different light spectrums. But after doing some research, I went with the Kind light because you can tune the spectrum, so you’re not using any part of the spectrum that your plants don’t need. White LEDs include parts of the spectrum that your plants don’t use, which translates to wasted energy. The XL1000 even has some UV in their spectrum, which can lead to increased potency. Studies have shown that cannabis grown under LED often has considerably more THC content than buds grown under HPS lights. Now of course there will be people reading this who disagree with me, but it’s The Internet, so I don’t really care about those people. This is what I went with, and I’m happy, so leave me alone.
I even did crappy unboxing videos!
Once all my equipment arrived, it was time to set it up. Here is where I made a really annoying mistake. I chose to build my tent inside of a walk-in closet in my house. The closet has about 6’x6′ of usable space. My tent is 5’x5′. More than enough room, right? Well, kinda. The shell of the Gorilla Grow Tent is one large piece of canvas. I had to build the tent inside of the closet with only a few extra inches of room to spare. After a few hours I finally managed to get it built, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. I made things probably a hundred times more complicated by building inside of the closet. First off, I discovered that the closet had no electric outlets, so I needed to run an extension cord. I had to have my wife help me build the tent, holding up the various sides of the tent while I set up the frame. By the time I was done, I was exhausted, sweaty, and everything hurt. But it was a learning experience.
The next day I hung the light, figured out how to program the spectrum and the light timer, set up the exhaust fan and ducting, and hung the other fans I picked up. Now, I was actually ready to put the plants in.
As I tend to do, my initial plan was to grow a few different strains, but thankfully a friend gave me some advice and told me not to make things more complicated than they need to be, especially since it’s my first time growing indoors. Different strains have different growth cycles. So trying to grow different strains at the same time can be tough if they don’t have the same growth cycle. I heeded his advice, and picked up four Blue Dream clones.
I’m growing the Blue Dream plants in a Coco Coir mix. Coco Coir is the inner husk of a Coconut, the part between the fruit and the outer shell. I decided on Coco Coir because it’s pH neutral, and doesn’t have any nutrients inside of it. It looks like soil but it’s not. This means that the only nutrients your plants are getting are from the nutrients you add when you’re watering. So you know what your plants are getting. I’m using the Lotus Nutrients the folks at Gorilla/Kind sent me. It’s a powdered nutrient that is water soluble. It’s been working well so far. The nutrients are pH balanced, so I don’t need to worry about having to trying to balance the solution after mixing all of the nutrients. I’m also doing more this time around to try to avoid pests. I picked up some Plant Doctor for a local Hydro shop, and picked up some Neem Extract and some Spinosad insect spray recommended by someone at a local dispensary. I’ve even been trying my hand at some basic low stress training, but I think I could use a but more practice with that.
That pretty much brings us up to where I’m at now! The plants have been running under a vegetative spectrum for about three weeks now. While they’re in the vegetative stage, they’ve been getting 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. During this stage, the plants are getting more of the Kind’s blue spectrum and less of the red spectrum. I will probably be switching it to the flowering stage this coming week, and they will be getting 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness, and more of the red spectrum.
I’ll be updating you all on my progress soon! Here’s hoping this time around I’ve made some better choices and should actually wind up some some decent quality buds! I’m hopeful, as my plants are LOVING the light, and seem to be thriving on the nutrients. I haven’t run into any issues yet with nutrient deficiencies or pests. The plants are nice and green, and have been growing like crazy.
I’ve been wanting to start this project for years now, and I’m really excited to finally be doing it. I’m a huge advocate of medicinal cannabis, and have always wanted to go through the entire process of cultivating my own supply. I feel like it’s so much more special when you grow your own, from your own blood sweat and tears.
Here’s hoping this time around the tears will be kept to a minimum.