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The Art of Indoor Gardening: Size, Light and Environment

June 21, 2016

There are many professional growers who successfully cultivate medical-grade cannabis outdoors in quantities sufficient to keep their dispensary customers in stock throughout the year. But when you choose to grow outdoors, you are subject to changes in the weather. Your plants may receive too little or too much rain, very little sunlight on overcast days, and a battering of wind during violent storms. Plus, plants are far more prone to attacks from marauding insects.

On the other hand, if you design your indoor garden correctly, you will be in control of every aspect of the enclosed environment. These aspects include the ratio of square footage to number of plants, type and amount of lighting, and ambient air temperature, relative humidity and level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Each of these aspects should be carefully considered when designing an indoor garden. Ignoring any one of them can prevent you from achieving your goal of producing the highest possible yield of the best possible quality.


Garden size
First let’s determine the number of plants you can successfully raise indoors. While this calculation may sound simple, growing as many plants as possible in a given space can actually decrease the overall yield because there will be too many plants for the available amount of light. In addition, crowding the plants together diminishes the amount of CO2 that reaches the lower branches. The overall result of overcrowding is a reduction in both yield and quality.

The actual space each plant requires can depend on its variety and/or strain. Small, stealthy auto-flowering plants don’t need a lot of room, tall sativas most certainly do, and most indicas fall somewhere in between.


The second consideration in your indoor design is what type of lighting to use and how much of it you need for a given number of plants. Artificial lighting is divided into three types: high-intensity discharge (HID), LED and fluorescent. HID bulbs are divided into Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS). Cannabis needs certain colors of the light spectrum available from the sun, and a certain type of lighting may be used to provide the necessary spectrum for a particular stage of plant growth.

However, HIDs bulbs produce a tremendous amount of heat, which must be removed in the exhaust to prevent overheating the plants and halting growth. Due to their significantly lower heat output, red and blue LED lights are starting to become the vogue with many indoor gardeners.


Environmental control
The third aspect of designing a proper indoor garden is the ability to control every element of the environment; namely, ventilation, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide level.

As we’ve just mentioned, the heat from artificial lights must be removed via an exhaust fan controlled by an automatic, adjustable and temperature-sensitive switch. An intake fan, which draws fresh air from outdoors, is plugged into the same controller—so that it comes on and shuts off at the same time as the exhaust fan.

In addition, you need to control the humidity in your garden. High humidity in the early stages of growth increases the number of seedlings that develop into females. During the later stages, plants need lower humidity, and a dehumidifier is a necessity.

The grow room also must be able to generate and control the level of CO2 in the air, since sufficient quantities are essential to producing a top quality product. CO2 generators are a must-have item for any professional indoor garden.

There are many factors to consider when designing an indoor garden; we’ve described only three of them. By providing the best possible environment and conditions, you will help your plants reach their full potential!


By Bill Bernhardt


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