How to Get Started Growing Indoors.
Learning how to set up and get started growing your plants indoors for the first time can seem overwhelming but with the proper research, you will find it to be easier than you think.
There are pages upon pages of gardening manufacturers, all claiming that they know the best way to maximize yield from your indoor garden.
The truth of the matter is, there is no one size fits all when it comes to indoor gardens and what may be perfect for you may be a complete disaster for the next person.
Experienced growers will tell you, you should always tailor your garden’s setup to fit your specific needs and level of experience.
What kind of plants do you plan to grow? How long is their life cycle? How much room will each plant require? Will you need to worry about odor? All of these questions should be answered before you start shopping for the key components of your garden.
How to Get Started Growing Indoors – Things to Consider
The following thing to consider is your overall budget. The hydroponics industry has exploded over the last decade and as a result of this, new manufacturers have poured into the marketplace. This has driven the price of equipment down significantly. This price drop and new advances in lighting technology have made starting an indoor garden more affordable than ever before. Unfortunately, this has also made it much easier for you to purchase a product that is below your quality standards. To avoid this you should always stick to reputable manufacturers that have proven themselves to be of high-quality standards.
Next, you should think about the total space you have and the amount of discretion you may require. The larger the grow space the more lighting you will need to cover it, so this decision could have a major affect on your overall budget. A grow tent is one of the best ways to keep your indoor garden organized. These handy devices work like a closet to fit your entire garden into a convenient, easy to work with space. These tents have revolutionized the art of indoor agriculture and most come equipped with ventilation ports and light rails. The inside of these tents are usually a shiny reflective material, this allows you to make the most of your lighting.
The Gorilla Grow Tent is a perfect example of this type of grow tent setup. These are very easy to set up and the entire unit can be completely erected in under 20 minutes. Keeping your grow room sterile and free from contaminants and pests should be priority number one for any serious grower.
Once you have picked out a grow tent to fit your needs you are ready to think about your lighting. LED lights are going to give you the best results. Especially when you start to factor in things such like your electric usage and overall heat output. Overheating can cause your plants to feel extra stress, reducing their yield significantly. Traditional metal halide and high-pressure sodium lights require more ventilation to keep the temperature in your garden low. This can raise the overall price of your setup dramatically because you will now require more expensive exhaust fans to keep your temperature from getting too high.
LED lighting is cheaper to run and with recent advances in light spectrum technology, it has become an effective solution for both vegetative and flowering stages of plant growth. LED lighting is now available in 12-spectrum lighting and units such as the KIND K3 deliver excellent results. This style of lighting is designed to mimic the sun more closely, giving your plants a more natural growth pattern.
You can't beat the advantages of LED lighting for your indoor garden. LEDs last longer and can handle movement better than traditional hydroponic lighting setups. They also do not require separate ballasts and they are less likely to completely burn out because each LED bulb is its own separate chip. If you are serious about your indoor garden, LED lighting is going to be the smart choice and will save you hundreds on your lighting bill.
Now that you have your tent and your LED, you are ready to consider your ventilation and circulation systems. Both of these systems have to do with keeping a healthy airflow throughout your tent. Remember plants don't have lungs. When a plant releases oxygen or exhales, it is released from the underside of the leaf. In normal circumstances, the wind would then take this oxygen and circulated around the world, freeing the plant up to exhale more. If the wind was to not blow, the oxygen would sit under the plant leaf, not allowing it to exhale again until it was blown away. This is why it is so important you focus on getting every leaf in your garden to dance gently. This means you need enough fans to ensure every leaf is gently moving. This will also assist in creating a healthier and stronger stem for your plants.
Choosing a good exhaust setup is equally as important. Most grow tents will have an exhaust port located on the roof or near the top of the tent. This is the ideal location as it allows you to remove the heated air that is rising from your lighting. Depending on your lighting, you may need to get a high-end exhaust system. If you are using a LED lighting system you can save yourself some cash and get a medium exhaust fan, as this style of lighting produces much less heat than traditional grow lights.
If you are worried about odor concerns, you are going to want to make an additional investment into a carbon filter. There are numerous methods for odor reduction but carbon filters are going to be the most popular. These filters look like white tubes with cotton around them. They work by filtering the air in your tent through carbon before being blown out and they are very effective.
Soil vs. Hydroponics vs. Aeroponics
There are a many different ways to set up your indoor garden. If you are brand new to growing, you are going to want to stick with an easy hydroponics setup or soil. Soil is the most forgiving and usually provides the best flavor. The downside of soil is the fact that it is non-reusable and produces smaller yields than hydro systems. It can get expensive after a while and there is added work to consider, such as repotting plants and disposing of old soil. If you live in an urban environment, you may want to steer clear of soil as it may be hard to find a place to dump your old soil after every harvest.
Hydroponic systems come in many different styles and depending on the amount of work you want to do, you are sure to find a hydro setup to fit your needs. Hydroponic systems can automate the growing process and increase your yield. Many hydroponic mediums such as coconut core and hydroton rocks, can be cleaned and then reused on multiple harvests, saving you money in the long term. Hydroponic systems come in all shapes and sizes with some being simple flood and drain setups, and others being thousand-dollar automated machines.
Hydroponic grow rooms allow your plants to get the maximum growth. This type of indoor garden setup gives you the maximum control over feeding and growth cycles. If you are the type of person who may not have an hour a day to dedicate to their indoor garden, a hydro setup is ideal for you. It is worth mentioning that you will still need to do normal trimming and checkups to make sure everything is running smoothly.
The disadvantage of this style of growing is an increased risk of losing your crop. If you have a pump failure or jam your plants are left without any water. Depending on the medium you are using, this could result in root damage occurring quickly. The general rule of thumb is, the less experience you have in hydroponics, the more you should stick with a simple setup. Drip systems and flood and drain style hydroponic setups are going to be ideal for new gardeners.
Aeroponics systems such as the General Hydroponics RainForest 66 will give you the fastest results as well the highest yields. This is because of how an aeroponics system works. Aeroponics systems work by breaking the water down into a fine mist. This mist is much easier for your plant's roots to absorb and as a result, you plants get better access to the nutrients they need to grow. This causes your plants to grow roots that are net-like. Aeroponic systems are known for their explosive growth rate and their difficulty to master.
The downside of aeroponics is the exposure to your roots. When your plant is in an aeroponics setup, its roots are suspended in a mist-filled area. If your pump dies or becomes clogged, it will not take very long for your plant's roots to dry up in the open air. Many inexperienced growers have lost entire crops to this exact scenario and because of this, you shouldn't get an aeroponics setup until you have some experience growing on more forgiving hydro setups.
Just like yourself, your plants are going to need some food if you want them to grow properly. If you are growing in a soil setup, you can pre-charge your soil by putting the nutrients your plant will need in it before potting. This will allow your plant to unlock the nutrients it needs as it grows deeper into the soil.
If you have a hydroponics or aeroponics setup, you are going to need to feed your plants via your reservoir. There are a number of well-known nutrient manufacturers on the market today. As your plant will require different nutrients depending upon it life stage, most nutrients come prepared for either the vegetative or the flowering cycle. When you look at a nutrient bottle, you will usually notice a set of 3 numbers on the front. This number set is called the N-P-K, which stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
If your plants are in the vegetative state, you are going to want nutrients that have higher Nitrogen to assist in leaf and root growth. If you are in flowering, you will need more Phosphorus and Potassium. A common mistake new growers make is to try and use time released nutrients in their soil mixture. You should avoid this as it can cause a nitrogen build up in your soil, which will reduce your overall yield.
If you are the type of person that prefers to buy everything in a set, you can now purchase a complete grow setup for less than ever before. Manufacturers are creating new and innovative ways to reduce space and increase yield. The SuperStar LED Grow Cabinet is the perfect example of an all-in-one system designed to give you the most from a compact space. This unit includes everything you need to start your indoor garden today. The top of this grow cabinet houses a cloning chamber powered by two T5 Fluorescents. The main grow compartment includes a drip system, carbon filters, oscillating fans, and a KIND LED. You get maximum discretion and efficiency with this high-tech grow setup.
How to Set Up Your First Indoor Garden - Final Thoughts
Every successful garden starts with research. Now that you better understand the key components that result in a successful indoor growing operation, you are ready to start putting together your own grow strategy. Remember, you are trying to mimic Mother Nature and there is no need to get experimental until you have mastered the basics. In the end, your determination and your attention to detail are what is going to determine the success of your indoor gardening. Stick to the tips and products in this indoor gardening guide and you are guaranteed to get results you can be proud of. Becoming an efficient indoor gardener takes time and if you are ready to make the commitment, you are sure to see the benefits.
- Aston Reynolds