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A beginners guide to indoor growing

Discussion in 'Newbie Central' started by valuablevariable, Sep 15, 2007.


    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    A beginners guide
    This is a crash course for anybody trying to grow indoors but doesnt actually know what they are doing. This it to get you started and should be enough to prevent your plants from any major mistakes in the beginning. It should buy you some time to read up on whats still ahead of you such as flowering.

    An informed grower = happy plants
    First off being informed is key so before getting started you should gather as much information as you can, there is plenty of info and people here willing to help you out.
    Some basic subjects you should be informed about:

    Light cycle
    Reflective surfaces

    There is much more to know such as ph levels, Co2, nutrients and such, but as for now this should really just show you the basics of how to start and make you aware of what you should know to prevent the usual beginner mistakes.

    Here we go.
    Often when somebody more or less spontaneously decides to start a grow without really looking around for information first, is tend to use the wrong kind of light and placing them too far away. Im not going to go into HPS (high pressure sodium) or HID lighting (high intensity discharge), because if you already know about these and considering them as an option, then you probably already know about all the basics anyway. These are all more advances lighting systems that will give you great results but also require more knowledge.
    If you are a beginner grower then you will want to go with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or Fluorescent Tubes (FTs). They will be your new best friends.
    Why these lights? They are cheap, will not get very hot and most importantly emit the right spectrum of light plants need. Stay away from regular light bulbs, flood lights etc!
    Although both CFLs and FTs can be used, unless you want to use FTs you already have laying around the house im going to go ahead and suggest on not using FTs but rather the CFLs if you are going to grow a plant or two. This is for the simple reason that the light form a CFL is more focused on a smaller area than a FT. A 30 Watt CFL will focus that light nicely on one plant but a 30 Watt FT will spread all that light to its 4 foot length. This way a small plant wont receive 30 Watts of light but rather just a small amount because most of the light isn’t reaching the plant. Also a CFL will fit into any grow space.

    Using the wrong, too little or light that is too far away causes the plant to stretch and fall over. This happens because the plant is trying to grow towards the light in order to get more of it.

    Type of light
    There are two different kinds of CFL light you can buy that can be labelled with different names.
    The first can be name “cool” “bight white” “daylight” or “blue”, this type of light will look blueish (duh).
    Some of the names for the second are “warm” or “red”, this type of light will look redish (man am I smart).

    So why two different kinds of light?
    There are two main stages (if you don’t count germination etc), vegetative and flowering. Both stages specifically require one of these kinds of light for better growth.
    For the vegetative stage you will need the blue light. - Vegetation = Blue -
    For the flowering stage, the red. - Flowering = Red -
    You can still have both blue and red lights on a plant throughout both stages, however you will need to have at least blue for veg and red for flowering

    Also a beginner mistake, don’t go and get a regular red or blue light bulb thinking that your plant needs this colour, this is not any better than a white light bulb (hey that’s what I did when I first read about plants needing red and blue light *puts hand in front of face in shame*).
    For more detailed information on CFLs look at this part of the FAQ:


    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    How much light do I need
    You should have at least 40 Watts worth of CFLs per square foot or 30 Watts per plant. That would be about 3000 lumens of light a foot or 2500 lumens a plant. This is however the minimum. The more you get, the better and more buds.

    How far away should my plants be from the light
    CFLs wont get too hot so you can put those plants within about 3 inches of the bulb. The closer the better but make sure they don’t get too close and burn. Put your hand under the bulb and see if it gets hot. Find a right distance where the light is warm but not hot.

    Light cycle
    There are two different light cycles youll need to know about. How much light you give your plants will determine when they are in vegetative state and when they start to flower.
    Vegetative: After your plants have sprouted they will be in the vegetative state. Here they are only growing and not producing any flowers yet. They will stay this way as long as you give them a minimum amount of light a day.
    Typically growers will give them from 18-24 hours of light during the vegetative stage. There are many people who swear 18 hours light 6 hours dark a day is the best and many people are convinced continuous 24 hours light is the best. Both seem to work fine so it will be up to you to decide.
    When you want your plant to start flowering you will need to switch to 12/12 (12 hours light/12 hours dark).
    A simple timer (~3$) will help you automate this.

    Vegetative 18-24 hours light a day.
    Flowering 12 hours light 12 hours dark

    For the same reasons I didn’t go into HID or HPS lights im not going to go into soilless mix hydro or other systems.
    Heres just the fundamental on soil, don’t reuse any soil from old plants, get some new soil or use some from a good compost heap. Miracle grow with time released nutrients should be avoided. Get something with perlite, this will loosen up the soil and give the roots more air.

    Ventilation and heat
    Ventilation is important for several reasons especially if growing in a small space.
    For one, this will help the temperature in your grow area to be regulated. Ideally it should be 70-80F, however they should do fine up to 90F if nothing can be done about it.
    Second Ventilation will create an artificial breeze that will help the stem of the plant grow stronger. Place a rotating desk fan in your grow area or if you are growing in a grow box, use some modified PC fans to blow air out of your box. On further information on how to build these look here:
    On how to best position them look here:

    Reflective surfaces
    Reflective surfaces in your grow area is a great way to maximise your lighting. Dark walls will absorb light so you will want to do something about this. Usually the first reaction to this is a visit to the kitchen drawer to grad some aluminium foil. Stay away from this because the foil can create hot spots that burn your plant. Also if your growing in a small space, lining the walls with this will basically create a little oven trapping the hot air.
    What to use:
    Mylar, more on the expensive side.
    Reflective gift wrap that you can find at the dollar store is a great cheap alternative to mylar
    White paint on the wall will also works very well

    Other common mistakes

    For new growers there will hardly ever be a problem of adding to little fertiliser to a plant during vegetation but rather of adding too much. That’s why try not fertilizing at all until necessary (during vegetative).

    Common mistake is overwatering your plants. You don’t need to water them every day and there are several factors that decide how much water a plant needs such as container size, growth stage or temperature. Either buy a water meter (~5$) or use the basic rule of sticking your finger in the soil, once the 2-3 inches is dry its time to water again. Give it a good watering, once its dry start over again.

    Too close to light
    Although you should get the plants as close as you can, placing them too close will burn your plant, this could be fatal for small plants.

    Light leakage
    During the dark periods, especially while in flowering it is very important to make sure no light gets to the plant. This could cause big problems such as you plant turning hermie or preventing your plants from flowering so make sure your area is light proof.

    Telling friends
    Growing can be very exciting and one of the biggest challenge is keeping it secret. It can be very tempting to share your experience with your friends but this is can be a big mistake because often they get very tempted to tell somebody else. Try to keep it to yourself, youll risk getting busted if word gets out.

    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    A last word, for all those thinking they don’t want to spend any or little money, if you want to grow right, even if it is just one plant, this will cost you some money. If you don’t get enough light your plants will not grow right and even if you manage to reach harvest you will not end up with much. If somehow you can get anything off a 10$ budget then you’ve got two green thumbs, toes and some kinda weed angel looking over you.
    Growing when done right can be an expensive hobby and requires a lot of time and patience. If you are doing this as a random experiment to see what happens then go for it, your plant might not make it too far but youll gather a lot of information.
    So if you’re going to grow do it right from the start. If you invest 100$ then you should easily get at least that much back in bud (not saying you should sell but rather money saved in not having to buy your own) after your first grow with one plant. That and you will be able to use your setup over and over again. Also if youre anything like most growers youll get into it real fast and love doing it. Then spending some money wont just be seen as a necessity but youll want to improve wherever you can anyways and not mind spend the extra $ here and there.
    With that said, keep gathering information and good luck! :bigjoint:

    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    Thats it, i thought it might be good to have a page where all the basic beginner information is summed up in the FAQ so i typed something up. Any thoughts, comments?
    dew-b likes this.

    SmokeyMcpot420LoL Active Member

    Very helpfull thx! When it is dry around how much water do you think it needs? I use a water bottle so would u say half or what? (poked holes in the cap)

    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    you can pretty much soak it so that water runs out the bottom. Just dont do this without the plant needing to be watered first or else the roots will not get enough air form constantly being flooded.
    Chronic Thugg

    Chronic Thugg Active Member

    Hey, thanks for advice and info. I've been using Miralce Grow with timed nutrient releasers. Now I know that it should be avoided in using that one. So, I must now find a soil that is alot better. And about the flo. lights, on the difference between CFL and FT. I recently ordered CT's, starting out with only one plant, not enough space, not enough privacy, and still need a better set up. Can you tell me more? Please.

    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    Whats your space, budget like? Are you growing in an already stealthy area like a closet or do you need to build a grow box?
    zilluz likes this.

    dutchie123 Active Member

    Thanks this was very helpful, but like Thugg, i need some advice if my one plant set up will work. I plan on using an old not working computer. First i would clear everything out of there except for the fan then drill a hole in the top for a place my cfl light can fit in, im looking for a generally small plant so i can do about everything i need to in this computer, and suggestions.


    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    Although every now and then people talk about some friend they know who had a successfull PC grow, nobody has ever really said that they themselves has managed to do it. The space it too small to really flower in, it could only really used for vegitation for a week or two. There is somebody on the site right now preparing a PC grow and everybodys watching cuz they wanna see whatll happen. My advice, stay clear of the PC grow and make yourself a bigger box if you want to finish flowering or end up with more than 4 grams after 3 months work. If you need any help, let me know.

    treacherous Active Member

    welled said....hats off to ya

    rem_a_d Active Member

    im on my 1st grow thought i was just having a play around. now 3 week into flower and around £450 shorter
    lernt a lot about plants and how thay survive . (i can even grow plant in my garden now)
    and that is a accomplishments everything i used to touch turned to dust
    but not now
    love this forum keep up he good work all

    boss30 Active Member

    Thanks For The Help.

    boss30 Active Member


    I'm starting small and plan to upgrade when I know when i'm doing. I'm using: 3 27w 6500k cfls
    2 42w 2700k cfls
    2 reg fls not sure the w or k just thought id throw them in for more light.
    Miralcle grow moisture control.

    1st my leaves are starting to turn yellow. one of my plants looks a little shrivled. I got a moisture/ph meter and the ph basic slightly basic i got some ph down, but im not sure what dosage, and i'm not sure thats the only prob.

    2nd Is bloodmeal a good idea and how should I use it

    3rd is my set up adequate. I'm learning so I didnt want to spend too much yet. Once I know what I'm doing I'll spend more.

    Any help appreciated
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Attached Thumbnails[​IMG] [​IMG]

    boss30 Active Member

    I'm starting small and plan to upgrade when I know when i'm doing. I'm using: 3 27w 6500k cfls
    2 42w 2700k cfls
    2 reg fls not sure the w or k just thought id throw them in for more light.
    Miralcle grow moisture control.

    1st my leaves are starting to turn yellow. one of my plants looks a little shrivled. I got a moisture/ph meter and the ph basic slightly basic i got some ph down, but im not sure what dosage, and i'm not sure thats the only prob.

    2nd Is bloodmeal a good idea and how should I use it

    3rd is my set up adequate. I'm learning so I didnt want to spend too much yet. Once I know what I'm doing I'll spend more.

    Any help appreciated
    Attached Thumbnails[​IMG] [​IMG]

    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    Well it looks like everything you basically need is there, it just might not all be set up as well as it could be. This is exactly what youll learn on your first grow, how to better adjust everything.
    Its hard to tell exactly what is where in the picture, as far as the yellowing, maybe its the nutes in the miracle grow soil, are you also adding extra nutes?
    What are your temps and how much are you watering?
    Can you get some pictures of just the plants?

    melo2226 Active Member

    hey i started to grow when my freind gave me 2 clones,now i want to start from scratch. Once the seeds have been germinated how far in should i put them in the soil?and should i give them light and water?[if so how much?]

    valuablevariable Well-Known Member

    Just make a hole up to an inch deep and put the seed in there. You dont need to give it light while its still under the soil but as soon as it pops out it will need light. Because of that i would just give it light before it shows itself to make sure it has it once its out.
    Gorlax likes this.

    Gorlax Well-Known Member

    Great guide,

    Plain English, easy to read and to understand for a non-initiate to growing. I would have avoided a few mistakes with with first grow if I had read this.

    Nice work

    fric100 Active Member

    i built myon 16pothydro drip system and im using a 400 wtt hps i need 2 no is it best 2hav my water feed constant or should i put it on a timer 2

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