Thursday, July 5, 2018

Prep Phase: Shopping on a Shoestring


This article could get reallllly long with all the brands & products out there.  I'mma keep it as simple  (and cheap) as possible because there are potentially endless types of lighting, mediums & containers you could choose from.  My way is the simplest way for beginners to spend as little as possible & get the best results...believe me, I'm both poor & lazy. 😁  Here are the things you'll need:

- 1 bag of quality soil
- 2 or 3 CFL bulbs--wattage matters more than color spectrum--more on that later.
- A socket and/or reflector for your CFL bulbs (if you don't already have one).
- A Solo® or Hefty® type plastic cup or 1-gallon pot with good drainage
- Cannabis seeds
- A floor fan or oscillating pedestal fan

I recommend starting with feminized autoflowering seeds since the sex will be certain & your total grow time will be shortened.  Autos only have about a 3-4 week vegetative phase before flowering begins and many strains are ready for harvest 10-12 weeks after planting.  They don't require a dark period at all, which lets you off the hook on buying a light timer & tent.  They can grow as big or small as their container & are generally better for tight spaces (like Solo cups or 1-gallon pots).  Some popular breeders include Dutch Passion, Mephisto, Dinafem, Barney's Farm & Crop King Seeds.  Make sure to check into things like disease-resistance, height & yield when selecting a strain since these can make or break your grow.   

Your soil should be dark, rich & well-draining.  No clay or sand.  Some popular brands include Fox Farms Ocean Forest®, Black Gold®, Roots Organic® or SoHum® Living Soils.  Do not attempt to gather soil from your backyard or use Miracle Grow brand, as it contains slow-release nutrients that will stunt your plant's development in flower.  This is not the place to skimp on quality or cut corners.  A large bag of one of these pre-mixed soils runs anywhere from $5-$15 depending on where you buy it.  If you can't find it at the store you can order it on eBay or Amazon.  After use, tape the bag shut tightly & store somewhere cool & dry.  You'll have lots of soil for future grows.

Good cannabis soil has ingredients like worm castings, peat moss & perlite.

When choosing CFL bulbs, go for ones in the 40-50 watt range.  This is the most effective size & wattage range.  Plants in vegetative stage like "daylight" colored bulbs, or those in the 6500k spectrum.  Flowering plants prefer "soft white" bulbs (2700k spectrum).  BUT EITHER BULB WILL WORK FOR EITHER PURPOSE.  Ignore the "equivalent watt" rating, as it's meaningless.  Only consider the true or actual watts.  I used two soft whites my entire grow because they were cheaper & it worked just fine.  If you don't already have a socket or place place to screw the bulbs in, get a clamp-on lamp like a Woods clamp light with aluminum reflector to hold your bulbs.  To fit both bulbs inside this reflector, you'll need a Y-splitter with an E26 or E27 base & socket extender, which will cost about $6 combined for both items.  More lights = bigger yields but you can have a successful small grow with only 2-3 bulbs if they're arranged correctly.  These bulbs use less electricity than a regular incandescent light, so your electric bill won't suffer with them on all the time.  Yay!  Just be careful not to break them or get them wet, as they have mercury inside.

Image result for 40-watt cfl bulbs daylight
42-watt Daylight CFL Bulb

If you decide to grow in a plastic cup, you'll need good drainage.  So poke as many holes in the lower half of the cup as possible--particularly the underside of the cup.  These holes help "air prune" your roots while preventing root rot.  You'll also need them when watering from the bottom in a tray.  Use a safety pin, ballpoint pen or other sharp object to make small holes.  If you'd like a slightly bigger pot, get a 1-gallon Smart Pot, Airpot or other well-ventilated container.  Avoid clay pots as they drain poorly & get overheated.  Since autoflowers don't like to be transplanted, go ahead & plant your seed in its final home.  (I'm recommending small containers because the plant will stay smaller, thus requiring less light, food & space.  It will also be easier to stash away & hide the smell if stealth is an issue.  But most autoflower growers use a 3-to-5 gallon pot to produce a regular-sized plant).

Lastly, make sure you have a clean, well-ventilated space to set up your grow.  A walk-in closet, a small room that's not used by guests, etc.  The temperature should not exceed 85 degrees if possible & it shouldn't get too humid or damp.  You'll want access to a small floor fan or oscillating fan to keep fresh air moving & strengthen your stems as your plant grows.  You can also set up a reflective backboard behind your plant if you like to help maximize your light use, but this is not required.  Mylar is preferred as a reflective material but scrunched up aluminum foil also works...just make sure you crush it up evenly all over as it's pretty worthless when smooth.  Flat white paint is an ideal reflective material as well.

That's it!  You're now ready to start your shoestring budget stealth grow.  Leave your questions & comments below.

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