Tips on Growing Cannabis in Small Spaces
Many cannabis growers are limited by how much space is available for their plants. Kent Gruetzmacher provides some insider expertise on how to best manage a small growroom or grow tent to maximize marijuana production.
While cannabis cultivation has undergone rapid changes in methodology and technology over the last decade, many of the basics remain unchanged. Both commercial producers and hobbyist growers must follow the baseline principals of controlled environment agriculture to find success, including understanding basic growroom design as well as the function of essential cultivation equipment.
Many hobbyist growers cultivate indoor gardens in small spaces such as closets and grow tents. In designing these operations, they must decide what cultivation methodology and technology is the best fit for their needs. Generally, this decision-making process balances spatial constraints with garden functionality as well as the financial costs of horticultural equipment. Whichever avenue is most predominant in your small-space planning process, it’s possible to produce top-shelf cannabis flowers in the privacy of your own home — without breaking the bank.
Maximum Yield put together a few key points to follow for growers interested in cultivating cannabis in small spaces. We are going to investigate the notions of environmental constraints and cultivation equipment, which are two important topics.
Growroom & Grow Tent Environmental Constraints
Growing cannabis in a small space often means little wiggle-room for error concerning environmental constraints. Small changes in things like temperature and humidity can rapidly influence ambient conditions in such tight quarters. Nonetheless, closets and grow tents afford new growers a great opportunity to learn about the basic environmental requirements of successful cannabis cultivation.
Cannabis plants grow best in temperatures ranging from 75-80°F It can be challenging to achieve this temperature range in small spaces because of the heat produced by cultivation equipment as well as outdoor weather (especially during summer months). While a 1,000-watt grow light doesn’t have much impact on ambient temperatures in large spaces like garages, it can quickly make small spaces extremely hot. This excessive heat can retard growth and offer the ideal breeding ground for harmful bugs like spider mites.
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As the cannabis species is native to dry and arid climates, plants do best with humidity levels less than 50 percent. The confines of a small space make fluctuations in humidity levels immediately apparent, so your chosen irrigation method will directly influence the ambient humidity in a small space. Unfortunately for cannabis growers, high humidity levels offer the perfect propagation environment for such pathogens as powdery mildew and botrytis (bud rot).
Good airflow is immediately tied to the environmental constraints of heat and humidity, as well as the next topic of discussion in cultivation equipment. The most important takeaway here is airflow is your best tool for dealing with heat and humidity while growing cannabis in a small space. By counteracting these factors with exhaust systems or air conditioning (which we discuss more in the next section), you can achieve the ideal balance of heat and humidity in your small grow space to maximize resistance against bugs and pathogens.
Cannabis Cultivation Equipment
Hobbyist growers have a plethora of equipment options to choose from in designing their small indoor gardens. While many small-scale growers choose cultivation equipment by price, others are willing to spend more for the perfect fit. Either way, the equipment you choose to power your grow will be extremely impactful on the success of your crop.
Exhaust fans offer the simplest and most affordable method for regulating the environment in small spaces. They accomplish this by expelling hot humid air while pulling in fresh, CO2-rich air from the outside. In best-case scenarios, you can run the exhaust from the grow area to a window or vent directly to the outside of the building. However, in wintertime or cool climates, people occasionally exhaust a grow tent or closet into the larger area of a home or garage.
Air conditioners are used by growers in situations where exhaust fans aren’t sufficient to handle excessive heat and humidity loads seen in the summer season or tropical climates. While they work great to regulate these environmental constraints, they pose challenges for planning. Portable AC units take up valuable square footage in a growroom and must be positioned in a place which allows them to dispel heat and humidity to the outside.
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Because they produce excessive heat, grow lights are extremely impactful on the temperature of small indoor gardens. Growers have three primary choices in lights that are powerful enough for both vegetative growth and flowering phases: SE HPS lights, DE HPS lights, and LED lights.
Single-ended HPS lights are the most affordable option for growing cannabis in a small space. Yet, SE HPS lights produce excessive heat that oftentimes must be counteracted with air-cooling, so SE HPS setups generally require more planning and materials for growing in small spaces than other options like LEDs. While extra work and added materials are a deterrent for some people, others are willing to go the extra mile to save some money with a SE HPS setup.
While commercial growers have come to love double-ended HPS lights, they simply aren’t practical in small indoor spaces. DE HPS lights produce excessive heat while not offering practical options for air cooling. Additionally, DE HPS lights must be positioned 5 feet. above the garden canopy so they simply aren’t practical in small spaces.
Due to their electrical efficiency, cool-running temperatures, and operational longevity, LED lights have taken the cannabis industry by storm. Because they don’t produce much heat, LEDs are the best choice for growing in small spaces. Unlike SE HPS lights that must be integrated with an air-cooling system, LEDs operate well in small spaces without additional materials and planning.
Nonetheless, LED grow lights are extremely expensive, which can be a deterrent for new growers who are still learning the craft.
While it’s undeniable cannabis cultivation practices are changing with the times, many of the basics remain unchanged. By following the guideposts of such fundamentals as heat and humidity, modern cannabis growers can continue a fruitful dialogue about best cultivation practices. This exchange can occur on any scale from small to large, with the end goal of bettering our understanding of cannabis horticulture.
In parting, it’s worth noting small indoor gardens offer newbie growers a great opportunity to hone their skills. Not only can you learn the basics of controlled environment agriculture, you can also experiment with the latest cultivation technology. By perfecting your craft on a small scale, you can take your knowledge onto larger operations if you should desire.
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Written by Kent Gruetzmacher | Writer, Owner of KCG Content
Kent Gruetzmacher MFA is a Colorado-based writer and owner of the writing and marketing firm KCG Content. Kent has been working in the cannabis and hydroponics space for over a decade. Beginning in California in 2009, he has held positions in cultivation, operations, marketing, and business development. Looking specifically to writing, Kent has worked with many of the leading publications and marketing agencies in the cannabis space. His writing has been recognized by such icons as Steve D’Angelo and Rick Simpson.