With our fall harvest wrapping up we are looking towards the winter, and the projects that we will be getting into as the seasons change. One of the things we have been interested in is growing indoors, and that means learning to set up a grow tent, and everything that goes along with it. Welcome to The Hippie Geeks! If you enjoy this video, be sure to subscribe and leave a comment below!
When you are growing indoors you do not need to use a grow tent, but it does offer several advantages. On one hand the reflective interior maximizes the use of your lighting by bouncing the light around, and they also trap all of the light inside, keeping your room from glowing with the power of the sun. On the other hand, it allows you to filter the exhaust air to remove that particular odor that some plants have. On the gripping hand they help with pest control and keeping the area clean. Pests can still be brought in, but as long as you are following appropriate biosecurity practices it will be considerably better than what happened to us at the end of this year’s grow.
So, the first thing you need, is a tent. They come in all kinds of sizes to fit your available space, from small 2’x2’x4’ micro tents, all the way up to 10’x10’x8’ monstrosities. We went with something in the middle at 6.5’x6.5’x6.5’. They are all fairly similar, and will require you to assemble an inner framework that will then get covered by the outer shell. Just take a look at the instructions, and start piecing the framework together as directed. You are going to make a couple of mistakes, but just keep double checking and adjusting, and soon enough the framework will be finished, and it is time for the really fun part. That may have been sarcasm. Actually, it was sarcasm, this next part is no fun at all.
The instructions made it look so easy, and if I had more room it probably would have been. However I didn’t want to be setting up the tent in the driveway, so I kind of had to just build it in place in the garage where it would be staying. Use the instructions as a guide, but just do the best you can. I ended up getting the top on first, then pulled the sides around and finally pulled the bottom under the framework and zipped it all together. I know the angle on the video is terrible and I apologize, but it will give you an idea of how the process went.
Once the tent is set up, there are a few more things that you are going to need to be able to actually grow something in the tent. You are probably thinking lights, and they are important, but the first thing that you want to find a place for is your exhaust fan. The most important thing to make sure you have enough of is airflow. Too little airflow, and the humidity will build up in your tent, leading to issues with mold and mildew. To figure out how much fan you need, multiply the height, width and depth of your tent to find out how many cubic feet of air it has. In our case, that works out to 275 cubic feet. Now take that number and multiply it by 1.33. That gives us a number of 365, which is the amount of Cubic Feet per Minute that our fan needs to push. Why the 1.33 multiplier you are asking? Because we need to make up for the resistance that the carbon filter will add to the system.
The fan we choose needs to move at least 365 CFM so that we can completely change the air out once every minute. It is important to do so not just to remove moisture and heat, but that will also draw the same amount of fresh air into the tent, keeping your plants supplied with as much C02 as they need to keep growing strong. We decided on an 8” fan with a 745 CFM rating. By going with an oversize fan, I can run it at a slower speed, which will produce less noise. It also gives me the ability to increase the airflow later if I need to, which would not be an option with a smaller six inch or four inch fan.
Now that you have the fan chosen, you actually have to get it installed. The downside to choosing an 8” fan and filter is that they are absolutely enormous. Laughably so, as if I am over compensating for some other shortcoming. However, with some adjustable hangers and some duct tape, we were able to get it tucked neatly away and vented out the top of the tent. You want to be sure to install it as high as possible, so that you are removing the warmest and wettest air from the tent.
Next up are lights, and there are a million options out there for you to choose from. This is going to be a very personal choice for each person, just make sure that you look into all of the options out there and choose the one that fits your needs best. We love LED grow lights, and have used then with a lot of success with our plant starts. The ones we chose were strictly because they were on sale for an incredible price that we couldn’t pass up. They are not the best lights out there, but they put out a very respectable amount of light for the price. We used more of the adjustable hangers to mount them, which will give us the maximum amount of height adjustment for all stages of growth.
Beyond that, there is the cost of a few other parts needed to get the system going. A fan speed controller for the exhaust fan, extension cords to combine each bank of lights and timers to control how long each bank of lights is on. Some 8” ductwork to exhaust the fan out of the tent, and that is really about it other than the plants th emselves. You can grow anything you want to in something like this over the winter, not just herbs of the medicinal variety. Have any of you folks thought about setting up a tent to be able to grow indoors over the winter? If so we would love to hear about it in the comments below.
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If you don't get the reference to “the gripping hand”, it is from a pair of books from a couple of my favorite authors.
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