So you’ve decided to grow herbs in your home and you’d like to know more about what to expect and what you’ll need to consider before you start! I grew for 13 years in a state where such activity was and is to this day illegal. I never got caught by anyone besides an errant girlfriend and I learned numerous lessons I wish someone had imparted to me before I started.
Let’s set the proper expectation right away by talking about grow space.
Grow Space / Living Space
Marijuana plants, no matter which strain you choose to start with, no matter if you start with seeds or clones, no matter if you choose to grow in soil or hydroponically absolutely drink water and light at a rate I wasn’t prepared for. This is why your grow space and your living space matter so much.
It’s never wise to grow in a multi-unit dwelling such as an apartment or duplex. I’ve found that owning your home makes all the difference in the world in terms of peace-of-mind. I did grow for years while renting but the headaches associated with doing so were nearly overwhelming.
Your grow space needs to be clean, dry and separate from your day-to-day living space. I’ve found that an in-floor drain will make your life infinitely easier. Many basements have drains in-floor and, as long as you have enough room to stand upright comfortably, can usually be utilized to good effect.
Moisture can cause ill effects quickly and can ruin your weeks and months of hard work in an instant. If your grow space isn’t as dry as you’d prefer, consider using a dehumidifier. Caution: you’ll need to empty it every few hours which can be back breaking depending on how far you are from a drain.
Bugs will ruin your day. Make sure your space is clean and free from crickets, roaches or aphids. We’ll cover bugs in a separate blog post in the future.
You will be generating a massive amount of light and heat in your grow space no matter what overall grow method you use, so make sure to thoughtfully cover windows with material that will obfuscate outsiders from your operations. Caution: don’t use black trash bags or other black material that may seem suspicious from the outside. Use patterned curtains or other fabric when possible to suggest a lived-in, family feel to those prying eyes outside.
You need enough room for re-potting. As your plants grow and mature you’ll need enough space to transplant from smaller pots (or smart bags, which I’ll cover later) into larger ones between grow-cycle and the veg-cycle. Remember: your plants will take 3-4 months to go from start to finish so the more comfortable and workable your space is, the happier you and your plants will be.
It’s important to clean all of your tools and working materials regularly. Nothing kills or sickens plants faster than bacteria and fungus. Clean your PH-wand, trowels, shovels and other tools after every single use without fail to ensure a stable growing environment. Even one lost plant represents (in the end) hundreds or thousands of dollars invested, not to mention countless hours of your time invested. One lost plant can mean the difference between a profitable grow cycle and a giant waste of your time.
The PH Balance Of Your Home’s Water
The cannabis plant prefers a pH environment of 5.5 to 6.5. You can determine the general pH of your water with a variety of test kits and tools, but I’ve found that spending a little extra money on a pH “wand” was highly beneficial, and it can also be used to stir your water buckets before watering / feeding your plants (I seem to remember spending around $80 or so on a great wand that lasted for years). Once you determine the average pH of the water that comes to your home you’ll quickly become accustomed to measuring and administering the proper amount of pH balance fluid to achieve the desired level in your feed-water.
Plants’ needs change over time as can your city’s water supply so be diligent and measure it before every feeding. One slip up could cost you your entire operation.
For more information on the chemical make up of your plants visit our article here!
Go ahead and just get ready for especially high utility bills. I spent on average the same as my rent (when renting) just in light and water, per month. $600-$700 per month must be allotted for to ensure proper watering and light cycles for your plants. In my experience if you pay your utility bills on time and in full the utility company is largely unconcerned. (More on security and safety regarding your space and utility companies later).
It’s absolutely mission-critical that you repair and maintain the entire house yourself. You can’t call the landlord if a pipe bursts or if an appliance breaks. Be ready to tackle these surprise events ahead of time.
Friends and Family
The larger and more complex a plan the higher the likelihood of something going wrong. Keep your plan simple. The fewer folks who know about your basement operation the better. It’s best if you and you alone are the sole proprietor of your work. This is the only way to be sure loose lips don’t sink your proverbial ship.
As your plants mature they’ll begin to smell pungently and strongly. You’ll get used to the smell over time as the live resin seeps into your pores and onto your work clothes. Don’t underestimate how far-reaching the odor can become. I measured 25 ft from my front door out into my yard, smelling my plants strongly all the way to this point. That’s when I bit the bullet and got an in-line charcoal filter from a company in Germany (to the tune of around $800) to add to my HVAC system. It worked wonders but there were days I could swear I still smelled my plants from time to time well outside of the grow space.
Over the course of your first grow cycle you’ll need to find a local store that has what you need in terms of PH balance chemicals, tools and lights, mylar for your walls and other necessities. If you don’t have a local grow store you’ll need to make effective use of your local Wal-Mart although most of what you need you’ll have to order online.
Most folks live in some sort of community. Whether you have neighbors living close by or a bit further away you’ll need to maintain the image of normalcy and politeness every single day. For me the hardest part was forcing myself to leave the house every single day for at least 6-8 hours. If the neighbors see that you’re home 24/7 this could lead to suspicion.
Be friendly! No one wants to become suspicious of their friends and neighbors so play into that. Smile and be gracious. Be polite and helpful. If your neighbors like you that’s one less thing to worry about.
As your plants mature you’ll be inundated with increasingly large amounts of byproduct material; trimmings, dirt, twine, boxes that contained your lights or hoods, ballasts or reservoirs.If your cover story is that you work at an office somewhere but your neighbors see dirt piles and empty boxes around every day it could lead to suspicion.
Police your leftover and excess materials carefully and diligently. Having a compost pile in your back yard could help. Breaking down boxes and handling extra material under cover of darkness could also help. Don’t be obvious! In addition to the authorities I was frequently concerned about rip-off artists. Just because someone finds out or suspects your grow operation doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll call the police. They could wait until you’re gone and break in and steal everything you’ve worked so hard for over so many months.
Parcels / Ordering
After my first grow cycle I grew weary of having items shipped directly to my home. I found it useful to have an address where I could ship things purchased online that I didn’t want sitting on my front porch for hours during the day. Using a different name also set my mind at ease when online ordering. You can never be too cautious.
Even if you live in an area where growing is legal, neighbors may still not uniformly approve of what you’re doing. Using a bit of common sense can go a long way toward a safe, happy growing situation. There are loads of online resources filled with guides, how-to’s and kind folks ready to answer questions.
I came across a handy guide. It’s a great place for resources before you start your own grow operation.
Now with these tips in consideration, you are that much closer to getting your project started!
As the saying goes, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
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