Part 4: Harvest, Dry & Cure

Harvest

The point at which we harvest our plants is really a fascinating topic. What are we really looking for and when are those plants at their best for harvest?

Lets start with the second question first. The plant during its final phase of flowering is dying. It is taking its last bits of energy and directing towards procreation. The plant is waiting, longing for fertilization and until it happens (it won’t) the plant continues to protect its flowers with cannabinoids and terpenes. So this is when we want to harvest our plants at the peak of this production.

Most growers tend to take their plants down too early. Information on your strain may say 8 weeks to maturity, but it will likely take longer (seed manufacturers tend to underestimate the time required, marketing). If you do this your Cannabinoids (THC, CBD and others) will not be at peak quality, they will be weak.

Waiting too long though and some of the cannabinoids start to decay. THC, an uplifting psychoactive cannabinoid with change to CBN, the “sleepy” cannabinoid. Unfortunately THC decays inefficiently and only leaves about 1/10th the amount in CBN.

After a period of time our cannabis get weaker and more sleepy. So what is the right time to harvest?

We want to start to “listen” to our plants. Each strain is a little different, but they all give off signs of maturity. Buds begin to change colour, getting more organs, red or purple (and all the colours in between). The pistols or hairs will start to darken and curl. Buds will feel more dense not squishy.

The problem is for every strain these indicators are somewhat different, even growing techniques (adding a late stage bud booster) can change the appearance.

To be really sure we want to look at the trichomes or resin glandes. This is where the good stuff resides, cannabinoids and terpenes. The trichomes or resin glandes are what make the plants sticky and frosted looking. They also are a great way to determine when it is harvest time

Calling them resin glands is far more accurately descriptive term. Under magnification they really do look like a clear mushroom shaped gland. There is a stock and head, not unlike a mushroom. (pic)

Looking at the trichomes can be a challenge. You can use a jewler’s loop with 20-30X magnification. This is easy to handle, but magnification is not really enough to get a good look at the glands

A hand held microscope of 40-60X is better for viewing but because of the magnification a little hard to focus and locate the scope.

I have used both methods and with patience both can work. I prefer the hand held microscope, but it did take awhile to get used to.

The easiest is a hand held digital “orb” like the Carson. Easier to handle, you can concentrate on getting good shots. It can be a little awkward getting your head in the right position to look at the bud you want. You will also need to take your glasses off to look at the loop or hand held microscope properly and you are right under high intensity light. Maybe not the best idea. A digital microscope fixes these issues.

A digital camera is easier to move around, better pictures and you can save and show your friends and family! You do get to show off after all your hard work

As cannabis matures the trichromes begin to change clarity and colour. They will go from a clear glass like, to a milky, plastic looking substance. Some of them will go an amber colour (very rich colour). Again each stain will look different at maturity but lets make some assumptions.

With most plants, when 30-50% of the trichromes turn cloudy or plastic looking and around 5-10% are amber, then we are ready to harvest. Each bud you look at though, even the same bud at a different spot, will appear different. So we will look at a bunch of flowers at different places in the Canopy and get a general idea of what is happening. I will take the bigger, closer to the lights flowers as my real indicators. This is where most of the mass is so we want to pay more attention to these.

Some cannabis plants though do not look this way during maturity. I have a very special Haze (very pure Sativa) that shows almost no cloudy trichomes but does show some really great amber ones. So on this one, amber is my indicator, if I wait for cloudy (that would be 13 weeks of flower on this plant!) it is too late.

One of the best ways to learn exactly what your plants are doing and what you really want from them, is to trial some as your plants mature. So as you are getting close to harvest, take down a couple of flowers and record what you are seeing in the trichromes.

Dry it (I often fast dry here because it is so little and I want to see, amazing how improperly dried, cured and not flushed cannabis can taste so good, if it is grown well!) and try it. Find out when the plants you are growing are right for you. I would recommend cutting down the majority of the plant a little later than earlier, as new growers tend to take pants too early rather that late.

Drying

There are two basic ways to dry and that depends on how you want to trim. I started off as a wet trimmer. As soon as the plant come down, you trim off any excess leaves while the plant is wet. You then place the trimmed flowers in a drying rack or tray.

I now trim dry. For this you take your whole plant and hang it upside down to dry. After it is dry you then trim the plants removing leaves from the flowers.

The advantage of trimming wet are the leaves are more firm and tend not to “wrap” around the flower. Dry trimming has a couple of advantages. First because of the way I grow, big flower with not much leaf mass, the leaves curling around the flower is really not an issue. The other is, the plant dries slower.

Drying slower means moisture at the centre of the flower is going to have time to “wick” to the outside without over drying the edges of the flower. It is a more gentle, even process.

My dry room is a little dry naturally so I benefit from the extra leaf mass and it slows my drying down to about 6 days. Drying in racks was a little quick at 3 days. For you if your drying location is wetter, then drying in racks may be better.

Ideal dry conditions
Humidity 50-65%
Temp 72-78 deg F

Very light air movement in room, no blowing of air on plants.

Curing

Well this is the one area where I can truly say I am not sure. Curing is supposed to improve taste, “smokability” and colour. The problem here is curing is an oxidative process, it degrades organic matter. So while you are getting rid of chlorophyll which is the green colour and makes cannabis taste bad, you are also degrading the cannabis and its vital constituents.

I have tried my cannabis at all different levels of curing, from it just dried to it has been curing for weeks.

It is my belief that when cannabis is grow well and properly flushed and dried the curing process is not as vital.

To cure you will take the dried flowers and place in an air tight container. I prefer glass or stainless steel. Trichromes can stick a little more to plastic and well its plastic, who know what it is giving off over time.

So after trying different methods I now cure for a minimum of 3 days and then more if I want a somewhat better flavour. We will update this section as the information and science evolve but for now, don’t worry too much, if you have grown well, then your cannabis will be wonderful.

Idea Curing environment
Cool Dark Room 68- 76 deg F

Now you have worked really hard, cared for your plants dutifully. Sit back, relax and enjoy, you deserve this!

Part 2: Life Cycle

Stages of Life

The cannabis plant grows natively in many parts of the world where unique environments and hundreds of years of breeding give way to different strains and genomes. This has occurred naturally over millennium, giving us our Sativa’s, Indica’s, Ruderalis and every creative combination we can create.

Indoors we take some control of our plants; species, shape, size, light time are all things that we decide. So lets take a look at what growing our plants looks like.

Propagation Choice – Seed or Clone

Starting a plant is really one of the magical events in growing cannabis. Having something go from seed to vibrant cannabis plant in a few weeks is wonderful experience.

Starting from a seed is where most of us will begin and frankly where we should start. A clone is a faster, more robust, way of making a plant and is an exact copy of the plant it came from (mother). This is great way to continue on a strain you like and this is what we will do, but getting a clone from anywhere or anyone comes with a lot of risk. Unfortunately this is the number 1 way people get pests and diseases.

In a large grow pests can be a persistent problem, that’s why you see all the bottles of insecticide at the grow store (watch these stores for a source of pests. Clean yourself and products when coming from a grow store to your room). So buying a clone from one of these Licensed Producers you are trusting that they have their pests in control at the time you are buying your plant. Some pest infestations can cost you hours to days upon days of struggle. Pests can cause a total loss of crop if not dealt with effectively.

We prefer you start with a seed. Now buying a seed is a little tricky in Canada. The only legal way is to buy from a Licensed Producer, of course. This limits your selection and the type of company you want to deal with. There are a lot of online seed stores, grow stores carry seeds. My favourite seed company is Pyramid seeds, but this is still not a way the government wants you to buy seeds. So you decided to how you want to buy seeds, what you are comfortable with. I have had no issues buying seeds on line. Buy from someone who has a good reputation and has been around for awhile.

With seeds, no two are the same, a little like the family that has a lot of children but each looks very different, same with Cannabis. Michael Jordan has several brothers and sisters but none of them can dunk like him!

So when we grow from seeds we want to grow several seeds at the same time and then select the best of those for our future growth. We do this by cutting clones growing them until we know which plant produced the cannabis we prefer. We then keep the clones from the plants we like and discard the rest. We then can make all our clones form this particular phenotype (pheno), and grow our favourite plant of any strain, always.

With cannabis we only want to grow female plants, male plants produce no flowers, so as with life, the males can be discarded (sorry could not resist)

Clones which would come from a female plant will be female (unless hermaphrodite which is where a female plant exhibit male sex glands and they produce pollen, not good)

We should buy feminized seeds, which should be all female. Very occasionally a feminized seed turns out to be male (look for seed sacks,pic instead of pistils) and must be discarded. We will not see this phenomenon until flowers begin.

Here is some pointers on early sexing of a cannabis plant.

Ensure that all plants in flower are female.

Starting From Seed

We still like the old fashioned paper towel method, but there are many out there that work. So we will tell you our method, but if you are using something else and that works for you, great, keep doing it.

The first thing we want to do is soak the seed in water. Use your RO water or distilled water(hyperlink) in a small cup, place the seeds in, cover and leave in dark room with temp between 20-25 deg C (prefer around 21). Leave for 12 hours.

We then want to take those seeds and place them in a soaking wet, folded over paper towel. Place this paper towel between two dinner plates, ensure that there is no standing water on the plates and put in a dark room with temp around 20-24 deg C. 69-75 deg F (pic)

In 12 to 36 hours we will have a small root curling out form the seed, at this point it is time to transplant into the prepared coco starting cube. We will dig a small hole in the top of the Coco starter cube about 1/2” deep, cover with loose coco and we are ready.

Starting From Clone

We need a healthy clone to start this and that means we need a healthy plant showing vibrant growth. Starving the Mother plant of nitrogen for a couple of light cycles will quicken the development of roots on our clone. Take a branch with good growth preferably from one from the side or slightly under the main branches, these are usually the best.

Cut the clone off the branch so that the clone has at least 3 nodes remaining and decent spacing (tight) on the bottom nodes (at least a couple of inches).

Cut the clone off right below the node like this with a sharp razor blade.

Trim all of the bottom leaves off and cut the top leaves as in video below. Dip the clone is some rooting hormone (never reuse rooting hormone, dispose after use). Pour what you think you will use into a shot glass. Coat about 1cm at the bottom of the stem. Discard any unused rooting hormone, do not reuse.

There are two methods that we like here for the next stage for your plant. We can use a standard cloning device. This is basically an aeroponic device that constantly keeps the clone stem wet. Each one will come with its own instructions. Should take between 1 and 2 weeks.

We can place the clone directly into a prepared starter coco cube. Coco has naturally occurring rooting hormones that really help your roots take off.

You need to have high humidity here 75% plus. If this is difficult you may need a cloner or other method. Start your watering schedule (see feed chart) and in a matter of days you will have roots coming out the bottom. No need to transplant to a solo or small container, just keep growing.

Photo 1: Expanded coco grow bags in miser up. Photo taken under LED lighting.

Photo 2: Starter Cube on Grow Bag day 1, drippers like this until day 5 then both in Grow Bag. Photo taken under LED lighting.

When either hand watering or using a drip system you can just place the cube on top of the expanded coco. With hand watering place as in pics and water through the started cube for 7 days, then just water the grow bag. With a drip system, place one dripper in the bag and one in the cube. You’re done. In 5 days put both drippers in the grow bag and keep watering as you have.

Leaves are not growing as fast at this stage, the plant is only producing roots, so light at this stage should be weak. My clones are over 30” from a 323 watt LED. A smaller Metal Halide or T5 (florescent) can also work. The florescent T5 bulbs work well but need to be close ( a few inches from the plant) and need to be adjusted regularly. I just set my light and leave it, but not quite as efficient use of light.

Temperature 73 – 78 deg F
Humidity 70 – 90%

Best light source
LED 100-250 watts
T5 florescent ( wattage more based on size, length, of bulb)
Metal Halide 100-250 watts
Daily spritz with a light foliar feeder hyperlink science page.

Vegetation Stage

This is where our plants begin to take on mass and where we begin to shape our plants into what will be a” sea of green” canopy. This is just the most efficient way to train your plants in a low ceiling environment.

Lighting and nutrient requirements are less during the beginning of this stage than the end (please see the feeding schedule for nutrient use), With lights we want to think about the distance form the bulb to the top of the cannabis canopy. With CMH lights I start my clones off at a little over 30” from the lights and by the end of the vegetative stage I am around 23”. In flowering I am about 16” form canopy top to light. Every different light source will vary based on highest intensity point and type of light.

Note : (A small diffused HPS (400-600 watts) you might get 20” from the canopy but a double ended focused light (1000 watt DE) you might need the plants to be more than 30” away from the light, this is difficult in a low ceiling environment. Ask your light manufacturer for recommendations. Play with your light a little and see how hot your plants get and if there is any bleaching (too much light) on the plants. With CMH lights I have never had this issue even as close as 10”.)

In the vegetative state light cycle, the plant is best served by having 18 hours of light followed by 6 hours of dark. Some growers will have up to 22 hours of light but there is still no data showing real benefit. We know plants do need at least a couple of hours of darkness so the roots can catch up with the plant growth. Remember “the roots of today are the fruits of tomorrow!”

At the end of this stage we want plants that are small enough that they will still fit after all the flowering growth, but a big enough to maximize out grow space. Remember that some plants (sativa, especially haze plants) can over double their height in their first three weeks of flowering. Many indica’s will be significantly less. Always leave a little extra room until you know how much our plant will stretch, keep them on the small side until you know. We don’t want the plants to get too close to the light at the end of flowering.

Room Temp – Temp 72- 85 deg F
Humidity – 50-65%

Best Light source for 3ft X 3ft table

315 watts CMH Blue spectrum
250- 400 watts Metel Halide
300- 500 watts LED –

Best Light source 4X4 table

630 Watt CMH Blue Spectrum
600 watts Metel Halide
600-1000 watts LED

Flowering Stage

Well this is the stage we all wait for. The experience of watching, caring for plants during the flowering stage is enchanting. Colours and smell develop during this stage making it a wonderful sensory experience.

Plants can take a variety of signals to begin flowering but light change is the most impactful and this is what we use to begin the flowering period. Changing the light day/night ratio to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark indicates to our plants that winter is nearing and must produce flowers to attempt to procreate.

We continue our “sea of green” by topping the tallest buds during the end of the second week of flowering (some early maturing plants end of first week) and finish spreading out the plants. At the end of the 3rd week of flowering we remove the bottom leaves and buds leaving the top 12”-18” alone. We leave more canopy on a looser forming plant like a sativa and take a little less from a thick indica. We want to get some light down to the bottom buds that are left.

During the night no light may enter during this period, must complete 12 hours of absolute darkness. Look for any source of light that may be coming into your room. Windows must be blacked out with plywood or other material. Check any equipment in the room to make sure there are no indicating lights on (lights in room can be green as cannabis has no photosynthesis receptors in the green range, this is ok). Even green lights you may want to cover over for piece of mind.

Now stand in your room, lights off and sit for a bit. Let your eyes adjust for a few minutes and ensure no light is getting in anywhere. If there is, you must black this out, any light during this period interrupts the flowering cycle and will disrupt the production of flowers. This can even cause sexing stress turning some plant male and ruining your crop turning buds to seeds.

In a female plant, flowers begin to put on weight, terpenes and cannabinoids are produced to protect the flower. If fertilization (from male plant, but we don’t have any in our garden) does not occur the female plant continues to produce mass and oils until it eventually begins to die.

We can really see there are three distinct stages during flowering.

Stretch – this is where the plants start small bud sites, and the plants grow very quickly. Sativa can stretch to double their height in 3 weeks.

Mid Flower – buds gain height and some mass

Late Flower – buds gain significant mass, colours emerge, cannabinoids and terpenes are produced at a great rate.

Through flowering the nutrient feed cycle changes with the different stages. As things progress we begin to see the signs of the plant maturing.

We now need to know, when do we take down these wonderful plants? For the answer to that go to the “Harvest- Dry and Cure” section.

Lighting during this phase is critical. We generally need twice as much lighting (wattage) as in our veg room. The plants are bigger so we need to cover more canopy and the lighting should be more intense. We can get our plants a little closer to our lighting here so the light intensity on the plant goes way up. With My 315 Ceramic Metal Halide I run my canopy within 16” of the lights, so I can get unto 46” plants in my room with 8ft to ceiling.

If you use 1000 watt Double Ended you need more than 30” between the canopy and lights meaning in the same room plants can only be 32” high max and this might be too close. (more on this in the Lighting section).

Room Temperature – 74-80 deg F (can go higher but higher temps lessen terpenes)
Canopy Temperature – 76 – 84 deg F (ideally under 80 deg F).
Humidity 35-50% (Lower humidity increases respiration, drying out faster moving greater feed amounts to the chemical factories in the plant.)

Best Light Source 3X 3 table
315 watts Ceramic Metal Halide
400-600 watts High Pressure Sodium (HPS)
LED 800 -1500 watts (not as efficient at creating bud mass)

Best Light Source 4 X 4 table
630 Ceramic Metal Halide
800 – 1000 HPS
1200 – 2000 Watts LED (not as efficient at creating bud mass)

Life Cycle Chart Here

Grow Simple!
Grow Better!

Part 1: Environment

Temperature and Humidity

Grow room setup is the least talked about subject in home growing, and maybe the most important. A properly designed room can be the difference between being able to produce ample amounts of exceptional Cannabis, and dismal returns of inferior flowers.

Lights produce a lot of heat, and plants transpire a lot of water! We need to deal with these issues so our plants can thrive, and reach their full potential.

At Back Room Grow you have an advantage.

We will help guide you through the expansive, rapidly changing, and often confusing world of cannabis growing. When you start to calculate how much wattage is needed to produce in your space. Please remember when done properly we can get you growing WAY MORE Cannabis! By investing in the right equipment the first time around, you can grow the same amount as those using outdated technologies yet at a fraction the amount of money.

When Building a room there are a few key points that go a long way when it comes to maintaining your gardens environment. We need to, Insulate, Vapour Barrier, Light Proof, and seal the room off so we can control air movement both in and out of the room. The more insulation your garden has the easier it will be to control the temperature inside the space regardless of the conditions outside of the garden. This can be a make or break difference during the depths of the frigid winter, or blistering summer weather some may encounter.

If in a room, we need to seal the room off so we can control air movement in the room. A drywalled room is a good start, using a green wall is even better. Without a hard surface, this it is very difficult to seal. If the walls are properly taped, no cracks or holes, we can then seal around the baseboards. Run a line of latex causing above and below the baseboards effectively sealing the wall to the floor (concrete is great here).

Even better though is sealing the room with vapor barrier. You can line the interior of your room with “Panda film”, or black and white poly. This provides some reflective benefits, anti fungal properties and can be used as a vapor barrier.

Windows should be completely covered, plywood and caulking. Close all heating vents and seal with thick plastic (Panda film). You may have to affix (drywall screws work) and then seal around edges.

Doors need to be tight fitting, with weather stripping to seal and a “wipe”at the bottom. Basically anywhere air can come in we need to seal it up. Now we can control our grow room environment and move air around effectively.

Our home needs some environmental help!, moisture removal is first. A dehumidifier is really important for our plant and home health. Plants are going to thrive in your flower cycle at a humidity of around 50% or less. Our home in the winter, depending on window efficiencies, may require a humidity of less than 40% to prevent harmful molds from forming. These molds can be harmful to humans and your plants.

The most common failure of a grow room is inadequate de-humidification!

A traditional residential dehumidifier can work here, they are less expensive than commercial units, but also much less efficient and won’t last as long. For bigger operations a commercial unit or ones designed for professional growers maybe required. These can be expensive but protecting your home and having happy plants is really a must. A rule of thumb with de-humidification is for every gallon you water there is 0.8 gallons that need to be removed.

You can get professional advice here but always remember that too small, it will be overworked and likely fail at the worst possible time. Over size a little and the unit can have a better cycle with cool down periods, prolonging the units life.

Now we have to cool our grow space. Plants really like temperatures below 80 Deg F (27 deg C) with lights and dehumidifiers creating heat. So we need to cool, but by how much and with what equipment?

This the most complicated part of setting up a grow, how to cool a home. Number of lights, size of de-humidification and even the number of people in your home affect this. So what you need to ask first is (if you have central air), can I keep my home cool on a hot July night. If you can, and your garden is on the small size (4 plants or less) you might be able to use your central air to cool your garden, but consider the costs of more cooling if this doesn’t work. In larger grows we need to bring a lot of cool fresh air into our grow from our home. We discuss fans and air intake below

If you need more cooling, to find out how much you can talk to a HVAC (air conditioning) professional, they can calculate home much cooling is required for your set up. They can calculate the heat produced by your lights, dehumidifier and the people in you room.

A good rule of thumb though is you need 400 BTU’s of cooling for every 1000 watts of lights in a good sealed room.

Deciding on what type of air conditioner is really important. A in room air conditioner, or portable, won’t work, unless it has hoses that you can duct out of the room These units put out as much heat as they do cooling in your home, cool one area, heat another.

Any air conditioner for this purpose must send the warm air outside. A window unit can work (we worry about mold on the unit and smell going outside), a portable air conditioner, with hoses to get rid of warm air, is also a possibility.

The best way to cool a room is with a mini split air conditioner. These have the cooling unit outside, and a room specific heat exchanger in your grow room. So we can set temperature in our room and control that separately from the rest of the home.

ventilation for indoor cannabis growing

Mini splits are more expensive than other units but really provide the best answer for cooling a grow room in a home. You can even get mini splits with more than one indoor unit so you can cool different rooms to different temperatures. My room stays at 77 deg F(25 deg C) and my home is 70 deg F (21).

Some basics of cooling:

Every watt of electric used no matter what for produces that same amount of heat in the room. All electricity utilized eventually produces heat. You can see the math here (hyperlink to science page). So we need to take into account all lights (yup led’s follow the same law) dehumidifiers, fans etc. Anything that uses electricity we need to have cooling.

Air Movement

Now that we have the right temperature and humidity for our room we need to make sure we get fresh air in our room and move it around really well.

If in a tent the ports for ducting are already there and set up is fairly straight forward, please follow manufacturer’s instructions, but generally we want air intake near bottom of tent and the extraction ducting at the top The cool air is both CO2 rich and heavier. This is slightly inefficient, as cool air sinks, but is the best for keeping cool air flowing through the plants.

Cannabis plants like all living things require a lot of carbon to grow. Cannabis gets its carbon through respiration of carbon dioxide. So to keep fresh carbon dioxide coming in a room we need to keep fresh air coming in. So we need ducting, a fan and a filter.

We can add extra carbon dioxide to a room, but the room must be sealed and we have to change some of our processes, how we run things. If you think you want to generate carbon dioxide you can see if here.

The size of the filter is calculated by this, We want to bring in air from another room. Set up looks somewhat like this.

The fan is actually sucking air out of the room, through the filter (keeping plant smell out of the rest of your home) and drawing fresh, cool air in. This brings fresh source of carbon to your room, but now we have to make sure we get that carbon dioxide to the plants.

Here we install fans, whether in a tent or room, we need to move the air around the space, and over our plants. Fans provide two functions, removing heat from between your plant canopy and light and bringing fresh carbon dioxide into the room. The fans also “mix” the air meaning that the cold fresh air is mixing over our plants and not just “passing” straight through the room.

In a room where there is more space than a tent, we can have the cool fresh air come to the top of the room. Cool air falls so we want to have it come through a duct just below the ceiling of you room. We can then place a fan near that where air exits the duct. This will effectively mix the air so that the cool air just doesn’t drop to the floor.

The air exit (where the filter is) should also be at the top of the room and as far away (opposite side of room) from where the air is entering the room.

Now we have fresh, carbon rich air coming to our plants, feeding and cooling them.

Electrical and Plumbing

Electrical hook ups, lights, pumps, fans etc. should always be installed by a professional or a competent home owner. Mixing a wet environment with a lot electrical devices is well lets say it, DANGEROUS.

Please make sure all outlets are grounded properly, GFI receptacles or better (some equipment cannot run off a GFI circuit) . If you don’t understand that last statement then you really need a professional. My room was wired by a professional and it means that is one thing I don’t have to worry about.

Read about the lighting advantages of properly utilizing “every other phase” when using 220v power.

For plumbing things still must be done to high standards, but you are less likely to harm yourself. We talk more about the plumbing requirements in the Coco Hydro set up page, but generally you want to keep standing water out of your room, anything that adds more humidity. Nutrient make up tanks and water tanks should be outside your grow room, this also helps keep the liquids cool, which we need for our plants.

Also keep in mind you are likely to overflow some water at some point, it happens. you need to think about is going to happen to that water, protect your home. A simple pond liner covering the floor and running a couple of inches up the wall, even at the entry door, can act like a bathtub and hold that spilt water. When it happens and it will you will be so happy you thought about this first. I didn’t, but I learned.

I know that there is a hesitation to bring outside individuals into your grow room. I understand this and have gone through it. You want good people but want your privacy.

So here is what I did and it worked for me. I didn’t know any trades people in the areas I needed and frankly I was hesitant in the beginning to bring in anyone I knew. Was afraid of social chatter. I found some trades people, that were not the well know but more like the small entrepreneur. They all had some experience in this area, were discrete and knew what I was looking for.

Like with gardening “everything is timing”, it is best to seek out these tradespeople before you have an issue and are forced to start chatting up the grow store staff. Check them out online, look for referrals and if doing a project, contact them a couple of months in advance. I have done it the other way, needing to get something done quickly, and I paid dearly for that urgency.

Hope you can find your own tradesperson “hero”, I have found a few.

If you follow these basic principals your room will be set up and allow for successful growing.

Grow Simple!
Grow Better!

Part 5: Lights

Working With Lights

If environment is the most difficult to look after, then it is lights that is most confusing.

Well right off the bat we are going to say the most important thing. We like Ceramic Metal Hallide (CMH) lights. Now that isn’t to say High Pressure Sodium (HPS) is not really good, because it is, but the CMH just has a boost in quality. The Spectrum in CMH is more complete than HPS. Both produce the best quantity you can get. We just get wicked quality form the CMH. Appears to give a better cannabinoid and terpene profiles, just stronger.

These two kind of lights are just recognized in the big grow areas of North America as just the best, so we wonder?, why would anyone use anything but these?

That brings use to LED lights where the marketing information seems to be a bit out of step with what is really happening. Now all of use at BRG have tried a variety of LED lights, we really want them to work. But inevitably we got less product than for CMH and HPS and are left disappointed.

Here is where some of the LED light manufactures really confuse things. The claim is they produce less heat. That is just false. All lights produce the same amount of hear per watt, always. So with LED lights pay no attention to the “theoretical wattage” that the manufacturers claim, but instead look for the actual wattage being drawn from the wall. This dictates the heat produced by the lamp.

Technology is always advancing and we remain hopeful that LED lights can get there but so far we have not seen it. So for BRG will not recommend any LED lights until we would have one into one of our gardens to evaluate the companies claims.

Metall Haliide (MH, Not to be confused with Ceramic Metal Hallide CMH) is a great vegging light as would a CMH light with a “blue spectrum”

A caution with the CMH lights. At the moment we have not seen a bulb that is as good as the original Phillips bulb, although several manufactures are close. Be careful buying discount bulbs, there spectrum is often not optimal and you get less product of poorer quality. The CMH bulbs last twice as long(2 years) or more than an HPS. So get a good quality bulb.

The best CMH lights also have what is called a square wave ballast, now you don’t need to know what that means, but it has a great effect on the plant quality and quantity. Make sure you get one of these that is compatible with a CMH light.

Sizing Lights

The second decision a grower has when deciding on lights is , how big a light do I need, what wattage. We can go all over the watts per square foot required for different species or quality but it is much easier to use some rules of thumb.

In a Home Grow our biggest challenge is we have not a lot of ceiling height, we are lucky if we have 8’, that means we need to find a light that we can get close to the canopy. We want big plants, right!

So bigger lights need to be farther away from the plants. For a 315 CMH I can get my canopy to about 14” of the light and the closest bud about 8”. For 600 W HPS it s more like 20” and closes bud about 14”. By the time we get to a double ended 1000 watt HPS we need to be over 30” from the light. That is going to make for one really tiny plant. Not good.

Putting in more smaller lights has an advantage in a low ceiling application. We really like the 315’s CMH’s for this.

We then can choose the correct light for how much canopy (table size) we want to cover.

315 watt CMH – 3.2’ X 3.2’
600 watt HPS – 3.8’ X 3.8’
800 Watt HPS – 4.3’ X 4.3’
1000 Watt HPS – 5.0’ X 5.0’

These figures are approximate as the light reflector will affect amount of canopy covered. We like the reflectors that tend to concentrate the light in a smaller area, bat wings etc are design to take a lot of light and spread over a bigger area. This is not as effective.

Take you time buying you lights and remember you may need less lights to get the quantity you need when growing with the BRG system. We can get over a pound of cannabis for every 315 watt CMH light.

Whichever light you choose you will get more quantity with less growing issues when you match any light up with the BRG system.

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