Beginner Setting up a Grow Room - Advice?

by Mike

I just read the page My Most Successful Hydroponic System- missing info. Really, really good article! I want to get involved and try and get something growing. I was thinking about using this tent? Just wanted to know if that was the kind of tent to use for a beginner?

Answer: Mike- the kind of tent you refer to is basically a "dark room". With a little work you could set up a completely dark area yourself without having to purchase a tent. The only reason you need a completely dark area is for when you force flowering.

Before you can ever think about flowering your plants, you need to grow them up nice and healthy first. The four most important things you need to know in order to do this are: correct lighting, temperature control, how to maintain your nutrient solution properly, and proper air circulation.

It takes a lot of time and preparation before you are ready to think about forcing flowering. My recommendation to you would be to learn about grow lights and buy your lights first. Then, when your lights are hooked up and you have a thermometer in the garden area, you will realize how hot it gets under those lights! Especially when you try to put them in a small, enclosed space.

A little more research and you will learn what you need to do to control your temperature with a proper exhaust (so it won't kill your plants). By that time you will not only own a light, but also a centrifugal fan or a high power squirrel cage fan. Only after you have good lighting and proper temperature control would I suggest that you add any plants to the space.

If you are determined, this could all be done in two days or so. If money is tight or you are not so determined, it could take you a lot longer. With proper lighting and good temperature control, the next thing most likely to kill your plants is feeding them wrong. It is a big risk putting plants in your garden without knowing anything about how to manage your nutrient solution properly.

Before you put any plants in your garden, learn the basics about maintaining a hydroponic nutrient solution. Learn what nutrient solution strength your plants prefer. Write out a feeding plan showing what nutrient strength you are going to feed each week....and what formula you are going to use for veg as opposed to flowering. Finally, before you get any plants, you should buy your well as the equipment you will need to manage the nutrient solution (a pH test kit, pH UP solution, pH DOWN solution, and a TDS meter or EC meter).

Without these things, getting plants would be setting yourself up for failure (unless you've already got 5 or 10 years experience gardening indoors with hydroponics). NOW go ahead and fill your garden space with plants. I don't know how long it will take you to get to this point, but having just put the plants in your garden you will still be a month or two away from needing that "dark room" tent.

You see, having a dark room to force flowering is an important part of the process....but at the same time it is only one little part of the process. Each part is equally important, and each part holds a key to your success (or the seeds of your failure). If you make it to the point where you have all this necessary equipment and your garden is full of plants that are not dying, than go ahead and start thinking about that tent.

Of course, the tent is expensive. By the time you get to that point, you may just want to put some black plastic over your windows and a towel under the door to make the room light-proof. There are many cheap ways of making an area completely dark (which is really the only advantage this tent brings to the table).

Buying one, in my opinion, will not be the key to your success and would be a waste of money that could be spent on other things....for example a good light, a good exhaust fan, or a TDS meter (things that WILL be very important to your success). I hope this puts everything into perspective and gives you a clear idea of what you need to do to have good results....I wouldn't want it any other way!

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Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 22 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.

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One final solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants is concerned. Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle, you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system!


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This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 20 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.

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Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!

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Soil Gardening

This is where my advice ends for people growing in water. But some of you out there are in love with soil gardening and organic gardening, and rightly so! It's a pro-human activity. It is pro-conservation. It is pro-life. It nurtures and promotes life at all levels, from the micro-organisms to beneficial insects, to healthy humans. It's natural. it's spiritual. Gardening is written deeply into our DNA, like how you feel watching a bonfire or sitting by the ocean or next to a river.

My friend John at Food4Wealth has more than 20 years experience organic gardening, so he reminds me a lot of myself. He knows organic gardening like I know hydroponic gardening, and over the years he has learned just about every trick there is to organic gardening. He knows what makes the plants grow, and he knows how to do it with as little effort as humanly possible. His garden never needs digging, naturally repels pests, has no weeds, always produces more than his family is able to eat, produces vegetables everyday all year round, and....only requires 8 HOURS of light, easy effort PER YEAR!

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