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Old 11-29-2009, 11:01 PM
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HerbalTea HerbalTea is offline
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Default Stealthy Apartment Micro-Grow

Durga Mata and White Rhino Perpetual SOG, All Fluoro Grow

Some Words o’ Explanation:
Please feel free to skip ahead to the next post an’ the journal proper if you like. Ya certainly won’t miss anything, but there're some things I thought ya oughtta know first...

This was never a real-time grow log...though it’s still a grow-in-progress...and not bein’ one for strict schedules m’self, wasn’t ever intended to be. People like seein’ results, too. It’s been a long-term project o’ sorts, right along with my garden, though it doesn’t get near the attention from me the garden does...not that I was ever a timely poster in any event, or ever will be. With the last anniversary of Woodstock the garden turned 2, Caramella was well established in the mix, and the words “perpetual SOG” began to really sink into my thick skull. But while I continue to keep snappin’ pics to this day and scrawlin’ in my notebook, I don’t always have the time—or desire—to write about it, much less prep all the photos. Whether it’s ‘cuz I’m inna funk, or dealin’ with the rest o’ that mess I call a life(just like everyone else...), or simply takin’ a break from all the boards...whudevah...When it’s too much like work, and definitely isn’t as much fun, absolutely time for a break.

This particular SOG was running for a year before I even started a journal about it. I did manage to keep a semi-regular “update schedule” of sorts for a lil’ while, despite my normal ability ta procrastinate...which is in full force, these days. I can post the earlier progress in blocks, which is great, but it’ll still take time to put it all up, so please be patient with my dial-up capabilities. Plenty of entries were direct results of particular spots o’ interest from people ‘round the ‘net, and for continuity’s sake and easier reading, it’s pretty much presented “as is”, although I took the liberty of doin’ some minor editing n’ shufflin’. I certainly didn’t expect the enthusiastic response some folks gave it. If ya ever should have a question, please by all means yer welcome to ask.

Whenever I think of or refer to myself about it, what comes to my mind first is that big, black book Gene Wilder/Dr. Frankenstein finds...“How I Did It”...*Cue lightning and thunder with dramatic strings*... LOL Still makes me giggle...but why even do it all inna first place? Well first, I don’t mind sayin’ this is as much a show-n-tell session for me as it is about spreadin’ the word about growin’ yer own funk. I’m proud of what I’ve built and the results, which can only get better with more practice (and upgrades I daydream about...). Another part of the point is that ya don’t hafta spend a damn fortune doin’ it, have huge spaces, or use the latest n’ greatest in tech to grow, if yer needs are modest and expectations realistic. Most importantly though, it’s how I choose to try and give back to the canna community that inspired ME so much. I’ll always feel a deep sense of gratitude to micro-growers onna ‘net like Mtn John, Shaggy, Heath Robinson and so, so many others too numerous to list. And I continue to get tons o’ inspiration n’ ideas, plenty from grows that’re wildly diff’rent from my own. I found information and knowledge that was freely n’ generously shared, which I’m givin’ right back out again. It’s part o’ my effort to siphon off what’s often a firehose of grow info available onna web, and I hope it makes someone else’s start-up easier’n mine was at times. My way isn’t the right way for anyone but me, and there’s always boatloads more to learn, but everyone is free to use any info or ideas they can squeeze outta this as they damn well see fit. But remember, even a gushing garden hose can be a bit much...

I still manage to occasionally find new ways of killin’ my plants, so I’ll consider myself a newb fer a while more. If I’ve done well, it’s only because I stood on the proverbial shoulders of giants, and readers’ input, kind words of encouragement, n’ astute questions helped make all this what it is today. My deepest thanks and appreciation to all of ya...Sorry for the interruption, I know yer all really here for the show...Peace n’ happy growin’ to ya...
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:26 PM
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HerbalTea HerbalTea is offline
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Default Stealthy Apartment Micro-Grow

Durga Mata and White Rhino Perpetual SOG, All Fluoro Grow
I thought I’d post up some pics and info about the grow setup I’ve been using...but I learned a long time ago that most folks seem interested in seeing the harvest first. So I bow to the inevitable, although I’ve gotta warn ya...it wasn’t until recently that I got a digital camera actually worth a damn. The earliest shots don’t nearly give the ladies from previous grows their due justice.

The Quick Basics:
I’ll fill in the rest of the nitty gritty details about the cabs and all in due course, but here’s a very quick rundown...Currently, I’m running a perpetual SOG in a micro-grow with 3 cabs, usin’ dirt and chems. The veg cab, which holds both mothers and cuttings, has a mix of 24” T-12 and T-8 fluoro tubes with 24 hour lighting. The rooting and flower cabs are actually separate subsections of the same unit, again each using 24” lights. The cloning cab is also lit with another T-12 running 24 hours a day, while the flower cab below it uses HO T-5s at 12/12.

I’ve been growing out Nirvana White Rhino and Paradise Durga Mata as pole pot for just over a year now[Ed:sic., et al...] this time ‘round, in 16 oz plastic cups. Presently, I take clones usin’ peat plugs, from descendant mothers originally germinated from commercial seeds. Every 2 weeks 5 plants are finished, pulled out, manicured and then hung to dry. After drying, the best harvests can be a lil’ over an oz (total for all 5, that is). If it’s not so good a harvest, then I’ll only get a wee bit more’n ½ oz after drying all of ‘em. (...and I’m not too particular when it comes to trimming either, since they all get so frosty...) The reality is somewhere along that range, and constantly changes. The damn things are all clones, an’ get the same o’ everything...so go figure...To be honest, I don’t even bother weighing anymore, unless there’s a particular plant that’s been doing extraordinarily well. And I can hear all those gears turnin’ and grindin’ out there now in peoples’ heads...I know what yer thinkin’...“Whoa dude, not such great weights there, HT...” Yeah, that’s certainly an understandable view, and I might even agree if it weren’t for the second maxim of growing: Grow To Your Needs. While good weed does wonders for my insomnia, and all the other various aches an’ pains of slowly creeping middle-age, I’m mainly a recreational user. My needs are modest, and a quarter lasts me about a week if I’m smoking heavily. All I’m trying to do is grow enough for myself to be self-sustaining, and an ounce a month of dried smoke is all that I need or require. Generally, I never lack for having some good herbage around these days, and grow more’n I can smoke. I don’t quite have the patience to let it get to a really good cure though, LMAO...But it took practice, and I did the various “bud maximizing” kinda things (ScrOG/LST/FIM/et al) during earlier grows, before finally settling on a SOG. The other techniques just never provided enough of a harvest to last until the next finished usin’ fluoro lights. I do have an HID upgrade in mind for the next cab, however, but that won’t be in the budget for quite a while more. So on to the buds that’ve been comin’ outta the garden...

White Rhino:

A tea plate with a small pile of White Rhino buds, newly snapped from the stems to go into canning. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but that’s not a single layer of buds there on the plate...And a closer view of the same heap, where you can really see how well they frosted up. White Rhino is definitely a good smoke with an excellent punch, but to my palate there isn’t anything special about its flavor. I actually find it a bit too “earthy” until it’s been dried about 30 days, and its smoothness improves very noticeably with age. It has a mild to moderate odor during flower, which somehow reminds me of baked potatoes and is vaguely sweet smelling. I’d only give it a 4 or 5 outta 10 on my own stink-o-meter. This is an Indie dom, grows very well as pole pot...but had no solid recommendation for such...and the high isn’t as lethargic as you might expect, though it’s still more of a body blow than a Sativa or Sat dom. A few bowls and I’m pretty toasty for 3 or 4 hours. My plants are finishing at 7 outta the 8 weeks the breeder estimated, but I still keep the garden on an 8 week schedule. This strain has been a bunch of thirsty girls, and they’ve been nute hogs as well, but they clone easily and quickly, usually taking from 7 to 10 days. At harvest, the typical WR is 9 to 11” in height, and exceptional ladies will get up to 13”. None o’ my buds will ever win any prizes for size or density, and the only real point of comparison I’ve got for nug density is in terms o’ black market weed...which I haven’t had to buy in years, an’ God only knows how it was grown...But I’d say that while the WR is definitely airier, it’s not horribly so IMHO, maybe 60 to 70% of norm as I recall these things. Certainly smokes just as fine, an’ always nicely potent...certainly more’n any stuff I ever got offa the black market...


Durga Mata:

Here’re some pics of the Durga Mata. This has been an all time favorite from among the strains I’ve tried so far, and is another good pole pot sorta plant. She likes to stack and is prone to makin’ a strong central cola. The pistils gain a more orange hue to my eye as they mature, rather than the browns I normally see, but eventually dry to the typical brown as the buds cure. I love the flavor and aroma from this one, and for an Indica the high is surprisingly social and active. You can still stone yourself stupid on this one if you like, and couch-lock to your heart’s content, but there’s no excuse fer not gettin’ out an’ about. Mellow but upbeat, I’d say. The high from a few bowls lasts about the same as the WR for me, 3 or 4 hours. The aroma at flower is stronger than the WR, but still only moderate, IMHO. Say a solid 5 outta 10 normally on the personal stink-o-meter, maybe up to 6 with a run heavy on DM. Crazy as it sounds, the smell reminds me of the local Barnes and Noble bookstore, which also has a bakery/coffee shop, more than anything else. Durga Mata’s aroma has the astringent components similar to ink, glue and processed paper, but has a subtler, herbal/bread-y, organic smell as well, with coffee tones and something lemony hinting underneath. It’s a lil’ less aromatic after drying, but gets a more herbal odor from it’s earlier more “tangy” state, and a full container of curing bud has a smell that’s positively addictive. It’s a great smellin’ burn, too, and the aftertaste...wonderful, a sort of flowery herbal mix, with a definite lemony hint. I originally chose this strain for its reputed SOG friendly, easy-to-grow rep, but sometimes it takes a while for these babies to root. They do better if it’s slightly warmer than normal in the dome, but aren’t usually as quick as the WR, sometimes taking up to 3 weeks to show roots. When they do show, they’re also quite happy to start vegging right away under the dim rooting light, LOL. DM branches well if ya let her, and isn’t nearly as thirsty, or hungry, as her cab mate, holding water very well. My buds are finishing at 7 weeks with this strain as well, easily within the 7 to 8 week window the breeder estimated. The average DM here finishes at around 9 or 10” in height, and can sometimes hit 11 to 12”. But slower rooting in general means the DM is more normally prone to bein’ a 6” runt without some extra veg time. Like the WR, bud size n’ density are what you’d expect without HID, but this strain comes closest most often IMO. I’d hazard a gu-estimate of 70 to 80% of “typical” nug density...an’ right good potency, natch’ly...


Reality Check:
While it might look like I really have my shit together with this garden, lemme tell ya...Murphy’s Law is in as much effect in my grow room as it is in everyone else’s. I recently lost both mother plants to toxic salt buildup, for example. (The new ones are doing great, but the garden suffered for a while from a drop in the amount of cuttings...) And mine is a high maintenance setup too, make no mistake about that. I can leave the garden unattended for a night, maybe 2 or 3 if I plan ahead for it, but no longer.

My ideal number of plants in the flowering chamber is 20, five girls in each stage: 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks. For the most part that’s all pretty well dialed in, but the plants still sometimes refuse to cooperate. And sometimes it’s my own laziness, or maybe there was an unexpected disaster of some sort. Whatever the reason, from time to time there can be as few as 4 or as many as 6 plants in a given “leg” of the cycle. There’s no set number to how many of each strain are in a given leg, either. That depends mostly on what’s currently showing roots in the clone dome, and is ready to be transplanted to spend the next 2 weeks in veg. Typically, harvest is pretty regular at two weeks between each, but I use that reference only loosely. I’d estimate that 20 or 30% of the time the actual duration runs anywhere from 13 to 16 days. Another thing potentially throwing a small wrench in the works is the 7 week finishing time for both strains vs. my 8 week schedule, but I’ve taken a positive outlook about it. I track everything in a yearly schedule/planner book, and tag each plant container goin’ into flower with a harvest date to keep ‘em all straight. So for me, it simply means there’s a brief period of time between cycles in the flower box when things aren’t quite so crowded for ‘em all, and I can’t see that doing the girls any harm...

This version o’ the garden has been running for a lil’ over a year. Later on in the thread, I’ll also show some of the previous grows’ results. For now, the next few postings I intend to make will go over the hardware and such that I’m using, beginning with the cabs and then their lighting. Right now I’m trying to piece back together 3 years of lost work and photos, and it might take a while for me to get everything organized and written up again. I’ve started spreading things around on the web as well. Cabs, lights, feeding, medium, fans, etc...it’s all comin’...So please bear with me, and try an’ not get too impatient...I’ll get it all posted back up eventually, and it’s less headaches for me to do it a piece at a time. Best way to eat an elephant...But serves me right for puttin’ my eggs all in one basket inna first place...
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:47 PM
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HerbalTea HerbalTea is offline
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Default Cabs and Grow Area


Nature of the Grow:
The prime consideration for my garden is stealth, above and beyond anything else. As an apartment renter in an urban area in anti-420 territory, I need to be ready for anyone that might have to come through with little notice. I entertain friends n’ family from time to time too, but it’s a small place, with space at a premium. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure this violates my lease agreement...Plus, this has pretty much been a DIY “budget build” from the beginning, with additional cabs and upgrades made as time and money have allowed. (Funds have always been kinda tight, but this accumulation of gear sure didn’t happen overnight, LOL...)All of this has effectively limited me to cabinet/stealth growing, easily hidden and kept from sight of any maintenance workers or visitors. And while I’m pretty damn handy with a hammer and some lumber, I also can’t be making any serious ‘modifications’ to the place, like drilling for venting, or rewiring. New locks would certainly be nice for some additional privacy too, but are specifically forbidden in my lease. On the plus side: I don’t have any roomies, can keep my big mouth shut, have a high degree of privacy unless something disastrous happens, and while I don’t have bottomless pockets, a steady income definitely helps. I’ve also lived here quite some time now, and gotten pretty familiar with the drafts and air flow around the place, and the dry environment in general.

Cab #1:


This is the oldest cab I’m using. My original cab was part of a set of bookshelves, which has a storage area underneath, but I quickly outgrew it after cutting my teeth learning the basics of growing. Cab 1 is the veg area now, a modified small cabinet with 2 large swing doors on the front. Since I live alone, I can be a bit less discreet than a grower with less privacy, and opted to use a cabinet rather than convert something like a drawer set or small fridge/freezer. Hiding in plain sight, and I prefer the convenience of those big doors. It’s an O’Sullivan brand cab I picked up at Sprawl Mart for about 40 bucks, with an exterior footprint that’s 31 ¼” X 15 ½”. The cabinet’s exterior is 32 ¼” tall, but the unit stands at 33 ½” with the feet attached. The interior dimensions are 29 ¾” X 14 ½” X 31”H, for a volume of 7.74 cubic feet and 2.99 feet² of floor space. The cab also comes with the additional hardware to stack on later units. One of the best things about these, it’s disposable furniture. Reasonably cheap, but heavy since it tends to be laminated particle board. And since it’s just junk, there’s no need to feel bad about painting, cuttin’ or drillin’ it. It also presents a pretty reasonable façade if you don’t beat it up too much, and looks nice and innocuous, just as it should.


Cabs #2 & #3:


When I added this unit to my garden, I was finally able to have specialized cabs for each individual stage of growth, and doin’ a SOG became practical. It’s another cheap piece of disposable furniture I picked up at Sprawl Mart for 60 or 70 bucks. The doors to these cabs have a mechanical latch with a lock, unlike the simple magnet and plate system on Cab 1. The result is certainly no Fort Knox, but it’s a firm seal and good enough against casual curiosity or “accidents”.

I modified the location of the interior partition, and separated the cab into a smaller area up top to root cuttings, Cab 2, and the larger grow area at bottom for flowering, Cab 3. The exterior dimensions of the whole thing are: 29” X 15 ¾” X 59 ¼” H. Cab 2’s interior dimensions are: 27 5/8” X 14 1/8” X 15 ¾” H, and Cab 3’s interior has the same footprint, but is 40 3/8” high. The floor area of each is 2.71 ft², while the interior volume for Cab 2 is 3.56 ft³, and Cab 3 is 9.12 ft³. A germination/heating pad is hard wired into the rooting chamber, while the flower cab has passive intake vents with a false floor, as does the veg cab.

The interiors of all the cabs have been painted flat white, using a quart of exterior house paint. I picked it up at the local hardware store for less than $10, and it’ll cover 100 square feet. That’s plenty. Flat white works just fine, although there is an "institutional white" some places carry that's even brighter. But flat white probably has the most bang for the limited buck. It was my hope that an exterior paint would more easily accommodate any variations in temperature and humidity, and it’s a non-toxic, acrylic latex that cleans up with water. I’ve been pleased with how it’s worked so far, though it does pick up some stains over time. It still isn’t too hard to keep clean, and for ease of application, effectiveness, as well as low cost, IMO using flat white paint is tops. I did line both the veg and flower cabs with Mylar panels at one point, trying to maximize the available light, but cab temps rose an additional 10 to 15 degrees with the reflected heat. Since I run my cabs a lil’ onna warm side anyways, this was not good, and the Mylar had to come out when warm weather arrived. The veg cab does still have a couple of panels installed, though they’re not shown in the pics. There’s one attached on the inside of each door.

This was a handy reference chart I used, from my Cervantes grow book:
Material.....Percent Reflected
Foylon.....94-95
Mylar.....90-95
Flat white paint...85-93
Semi-gloss white.....75-80
Flat yellow.....70-80
Aluminum foil.....70-75
Black.....less than 10

If I had to do these cabs over again, I’d swap the veg and flower functions of Cabs 1 and 3. That way, I could take cuttings from veg and mess about in the cloning box whenever I bloody well pleased. There are a number of reasons that I won’t go into why I don’t simply do it, but the chief one: it ain’t broke. It may be inconvenient at times, but not enough to warrant fixin’. It took forever to finally dial everything in as it was! I’m content to let that sleepin’ dog just lie there...


Grow Room:
The cabs are all located in a private area of my home, but still near the living area. They occupy the den—more of a large walk-in closet, if ya ask me—which has a good degree of climate control through the apartment’s ventilation system. This is a huge bonus in indoor growing, as opposed to dealing with the extra heat rising into an attic grow area, say, or the cool and damp in a basement or a stuffy closet. The immediate ambient environment is a big damn factor in how hot the cabs will operate. Unfortunately, vaguarities in the building’s construction, and even the landscaping outside, mean this room is a bit more subject to the extremes in temps of the local weather. Sometimes there’s a spike or dip in the cabs’ temps as a result, but the interiors typically max out around 85° F during normal, warm weather months. A shade more than the ideal growing temp for MJ, but the plants have taken to it just fine. That’s also about 5 to 10° F over ambient indoor temps here, but depends heavily on how hard I wanna run the home’s heat/AC, too. Cha-ching$$$$. Temp variance is least in the rooting cab, which stays a fairly constant 80 to 85. That surprised me. I’d expected more variance after I first built it, with a temp spike occurring in Cab 2 from rising heat during Cab 3’s day cycle, but no major problems so far. It’s also fairly dry in the apartment, and the veg cab normally ranges from 25-35% rH. The flower cab typically runs wetter, but not by much, only 5 or 10% more. I’ll describe my temperature control, venting and odor control in more depth in a later post, which has a great deal to do with all this stuff, after the lighting that I’ll post about next. Peace n’ happy growin’ to ya...
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:11 AM
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HerbalTea HerbalTea is offline
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Default The Lights

For lighting I use straight tube fluorescents, primarily because they’re among the lowest profiles possible, and head room was at a premium. Cost was the other major factor at the very beginning, as opposed to heat control. (Hey...I never grew before, OK?LOL...) The size and shape of my first cab was also important, naturally ‘nuff...simply a smaller version of Cab1, basically...But for all practical purposes, my primary lighting footprint is 24” X 12” in every cab, regardless of its actual size and floor space. Anything outside of this 2 square feet I consider as “supplemental” or secondary lighting only. A completely arbitrary decision on the garden design for my own part, but it allows me some useful reference points as things continue evolving.

Cab #1:

This DIY rig is made up of five electronic, 20 watt ballast fixtures for 24” lights, with 50 watts/ft² coverage. The whole thing measures 27 ½” X 10” X 3 ½”H with hooks, and gave a nice, even spread of light for some White Widow ScrOGs I ran earlier. The ballasts each have individual on/off switches, and they’re standard fixtures that’ll hold a T-12, or anything with ½” contacts. Plugs attach to the bodies of the ballasts, and I wired ‘em all to use a common power cord with a double grounded wall plug. The electrical load is 0.65 amps at 120VAC for all 5 ballasts. The reflectors are a simple affair, just 2 pieces of flat white foam core board ~1 ½” wide running the length of each side of the mounting board. They’ve been cut to specifically fit the dimensions and venting of the cab, and do an adequate job of directing most light down to the plants. To accommodate the taller mothers, the lights are hung statically 17” above all the pots. I put the whole thing together for less’n 100 bucks, bulbs included. But this is another instance where I wish I had a time machine. I’d just bite the bullet and get a 24” HO T-5 fixture from the ‘git-go. Oh well. It’ll be a long time before I can seriously think about the HID upgrade I wanna do, much less consider the veg cab’s, but at least it does do the job. That’s all I ask...

Bulbs:
Popular wisdom places the ratio of CW lights to WW at 2:1 generally, but having only 5 slots to fill makes that a moot point for me. I think mine should be close enough at 3:2. The ladies seem to like it just fine, and if they’re happy, I’m happy. I use 4 T-12 and 1 T-8 from germination (when necessary...) through vegging, with a total output of 4,450 lumens. PAR watts are probably the best measurement to use, instead of lumens or watts per square foot, but I don’t have access to that sorta measuring gear and see bulbs labeled with it infrequently. The ballasts each came with a light included, but there was no info at all about the CRI, CCT or lumen output, so they were all replaced.

Warm White T-12 (x2): lumens=1,350, CRI=85, CCT=3,000ºK, watts=20, Hours=9,000.

Cool White T-12 (x2): lumens=975, CRI=93, CCT=5,850ºK, watts=20, Hours=24,000. Two CW bulbs were full spectrum AgroSun grow tubes for a while, and were a bit pricey, almost $17 a pop. Philips comes to the rescue with a perfectly suitable substitute, for only a third of the price.

Cool White T-12 (alt.,x2): lumens=850, CRI=92, CCT=5,000°K, watts=20, Hours=9,000. These’re substantially cheaper, with a notable drop in output, too. Ya get whatcha pay for...

Blue/Cool T-8: lux=50, CRI=?, CCT=18,000°(+)K, watts=20, Hours=?. The fifth light is a blue aquarium bulb meant for reef plants, and runs about $20 at the Pet Smart. It doesn’t show a CRI, and it’s 50 metric lux instead of English lumens. I don’t know how to figure the conversion, if there is one, so I simply added the figure straight to my total. When I added this tube to the mix, the plants noticed right away, and I’ve kept one in ever since.

For a lighting regimen I like to use 24/0, as opposed to 18/6, during germination and vegging. It’s simply a personal preference, but what I’ve read seems to indicate the additional hours of light help stimulate a tiny bit of faster growth. Even if it’s only a marginal improvement I’ll take it, particularly since I’m using fluoros. I also like to use a mix of light, rather than use all CW in veg, to give the plants a lil’ broader spectrum of light. That’s just another personal preference.

Cab #2:

Through trial and error, I found the most favorable lighting coverage for my rooting cab to be 10 watts/ft², which only requires one of the same ballasts that are used in Cab 1. I hard wired two fixtures in to give some added flexibility, and emergency backup if I needed it, but only a single CW T-12 light is used, emitting 850 lumens. I normally only run the heating mat during the winter months, and add a bowl of water if there’s room among the cuttings. It acts as a heat sink and helps in there during the drier and cooler seasons.

Cab #3:

My plants went bananas when I upgraded to this, the Sunlight Supply New Wave T5-24. This is an electronic HO ballast and runs quiet as the grave, for only about 100 bucks. High output tubes are not included in the fixture price...surprise, surprise...and I spent a small fortune when I ordered it, getting additional replacements for later. This unit measures 23 ¼” X 10 ¾” X 3 ½”H, holds four T-5 tubes and produces 8,000 initial lumens. It burns with a total of 96 watts, or 48 watts/ft² coverage in the garden. This is actually 20% less coverage than another ghetto rig it replaced, but with a 20% increase in light levels. It’s UL listed for use in damp locations, runs on 120VAC at 60Hz, pullin’ 1.2 amps. It comes with two chrome V hangers, but I like my S hooks. The lights normally hang statically, 13” above the pots.

Bulbs:
Each 24 watt, 22” long, high output T-5 produces 2,000 lumens, or 83.33 lumens produced per watt of energy consumed. CRI=85, Hours=20,000. I use a combination of 2 CW 6500°K with 2 WW 3000°K tubes.

For the flowering regimen, I run the normal 12/12 cycle, switching the lights off at 7:30 AM and back on at 7:30 PM. There are a few reasons why I do this, and this schedule lets me check on the garden before headin’ out to the salt mines durin’ the work week. I check back in after the news and dinner in the evenings. The only time this is a real PITA is during the weekends, when I prefer to sleep in late. I also have to wait for the evenings on weekends when the lights come on to do any work in the rooting or flower cab, as I mentioned in a previous post. But that’s an aggravation I can deal with, LOL...

The Dream Machine:

As long as I’m thinkin’ about lights...this is the one I intend to eventually upgrade to: the Spectra Max 246. It’s essentially the same thing I’m using in the flower box now, with the addition of a 150 watt HPS HID. I intend to build a whole new cab around it, rather than hafta modify and retune one I’m currently using. These are the specs I pulled offa the web:

SPECTRA MAX 246 2ft Grow Light
Sunlight Supply's Spectra Max....combines the red spectrum of High Pressure Sodium (2500°K) with the blue spectrum of T5 HO lamps (6500°K)...95% German reflective aluminum...Slotted & louvered for cool operation...2 on/off switches to control the HPS & fluorescent T5 bulbs independently...Runs on an 8ft, UL listed, grounded 120VAC power cord. 246 Watts / 24,000 Lumens Total power. Size: 23 1/8" long x 14 ¼” wide x 4 1/8" tall.

Lamp Accommodation:
1-150w HPS Lamp (medium base)
4-24w (2ft) T5 HO 6500°K Bulbs

Seeing the Light:
I’ve found that the Philips brand bulbs tend to have the best CRI values for low cost lights, although the GE HO lights ain’t too shabby. I used to be a much more rabid fan of light quality and higher CRIs, but over time discovered that my plants appreciated greater quantities much, much more. I still prefer to use lights with a CRI of at least 85, but that’s not set in stone for me now. As a simple rule of thumb, 50 watts per square foot coverage would be the minimum level for fluoros that I’d advise using without high output lights. I never expected to get the biggest or densest nugz on the block myself, but I have seen harvests with buds bigger’n a beer can, all done with HO CFL...and you’ve already seen just how frosty my own buds have been gettin’. I got no complaints...

I found this reference chart in Green's grow book very helpful:
Impact of Light Color on Plant Growth
CCT in Kelvin(K).....Light Color......Effect
5,000 to 8,000.....Deep blue......Encourages excellent leaf and stem growth
4,000 to 5,000.....Light blue......Encourages good leaf and stem growth
4,000................Neutral white...Promotes normal growth
3,700 to 4,000....Warm neutral...Promotes rapid growth
3,000 to 3,700...Warmer yellow neutral...Highly active photosynth. for all stages...
1,500 to 3,000....Hot orange or red...Promotes flowering

I change out the old bulbs once a year, at Spring DST when I’m doin’ the clocks and smoke alarm. I’ve read that fluoro bulbs can lose anywhere from 25 to 50% of their output after 12 months, but exact figures can be hard to find, and I tag and store the used tubes for emergencies. The expensive bulbs with longer life get an extra year before changing, and the info goes into the ol’ planner book to keep track of it all.
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:35 AM
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Default Ventilation, Fans and Odor Control


All my fans are tube-axials, and run on standard US household current, 110 to 120VAC, 50/60Hz, which made all the wiring an’ such a snap...but wouldn’t ya know it, I come to find the DCs are a better idea. Grrr. Next time...I opted for axial fans ‘cause they just couldn’t be beat for low noise—the prime requisite—and low cost. My first grows were done in my bedroom, less than 6 feet away from my sleepin’ head, so low noise levels were important before I even started thinkin’ about security. I will not accept any fan rated higher than 35-37dB in my garden. Ever. If the noise level coming from the cab, including the rush of air, sounds no worse to me than my desktop PC running, I'm satisfied. No system will ever be totally silent, but I can sleep through that. Now that the cabs’re in the den, they’re unnoticeable. I still like to keep a 20” box fan runnin’ in the main apartment for “air circulation”. The low, background white-noise it makes at least adds a sense of more security...

Axial fans develop a lousy operating static pressure, though. Better ones under 5 inches that “run silent” might only pull 0.3” worth o’ pressure, a damn sight less than a centrifugal fan. The low cab volumes, cab design, and all fluoro lighting offset some of this and keep temps down, but it’s another reason why I choose to use ozone in the room over carbon scrubbers in the cabs...although I’d much prefer using a scrubber...The veg and flower cabs also have smaller axial fans circulating their interior air. The cabs exhaust their volume 8 or 9 times per minute (in a perfect world, LOL...), dumping the warm air directly out into the grow room. The rooting cab was set up the same way, but things run better with that fan turned off. Saves on the extra noise, too. The room’s air is treated with an ozone generator on an intermittent timer with a fan, and I hadda fiddle a bit before I was in The Zone, LOL...While a lil’ ozone can actually be healthy, too much is bad for man, beast AND plant. Prudence and good judgment are required. For the tiny 6x8 foot grow room I’m using, I found a great lil’ gennie on the ‘net that does the job, and it’s less’n 6 inches long. I personally wouldn’t want to try growin’ any of the smellier strains out there with it, but for low to moderate aroma plants it’s been workin’ just fine: Total Zone, Electronic Odor Control System, Model #TZ-BB1, 110V, 50/60Hz, 0.25A, ~$120-140.

While it’s mighty convenient to use the fan manufacturer’s specs, bear in mind that their measurements are done under ideal, lab conditions...something I’d wager doesn’t exist in my garden...When I’m grindin’ my numbers to figure air turnover rates and such, I use the results just as a general target to shoot for. At some point, ya hafta draw a reference line somewhere...

Cab #1:

Exhaust fan specs:
32dB, 70.6CFM, 2,100RPM, 0.14” static pressure
0.14A, 12W
Sintec(WTF?) bearing, 4.7”x 4.7”x 1 ½” body, 4 ¼”Ø fan
Turnover rate 9.12 times/min

Circulation fan specs:
36.5dB, 31CFM, 2,850RPM, 0.13” static pressure
0.13A, 12W
Ball bearing, 3.15”x 3.15”x 1 ½” body, 3” Ø fan

With Cab 1 and 3, I don’t usually bother with the cowling/light baffle for the exhaust fan. As for light spill inward, there aren’t near enough PAR watts gettin’ in to do anything. The den always has the shades and curtains drawn, and is dimly lit at the best of times. There’s some light spill out the exhaust hole, but given its faintness and the cabs’ location, it’s not enough for me to worry...but if push comes to shove, and I hafta, I’ll leave everything turned off for the day. With the hood in place, light emission is virtually zero, but fan noise rises just slightly. Plus I’d rather have the best airflow possible.

Cab #2:

Exhaust fan specs:
36dB, 32CFM, 3,100RPM, 0.13” static pressure
0.13A, 10W
Sleeve bearing, 3.15”x 3.15”x 1 ½” body, 3” Ø fan
Turnover rate 0, (~9 times/min, if req’d.)

I debated with myself over whether ta even bother installin’ an exhaust fan in the rooting cab in the first place...but for the cheap cost, I figured I’d rather have one and not use it, than end up needing one and doin’ without. I knew in any event that I wouldn’t need the massive air turnover like the other two cabs, so there’s only one passive inlet in the rear wall, 4 ¼” diameter. The single 20 watt light, running 24/0, keeps the temps in a pretty stable range by itself, but when cooler weather finally rolls in, I’ll need to turn on the heating mat. The light baffle over the fan stays in place in this cab, since the bulb is directly opposite the opening, unlike the other cabs. Despite what might’ve sounded like my laissez-faire attitude towards light leaking from the other cabs, this is waaaay too bright if left unmasked. I’d hazard a guess the cowl blocks 80-90% of the escaping light, but I’ve got no real way of measuring that. The result I find tolerable.

Every cab is wired into its own electrical fixture box with a dimmer switch, which does allow me to turn the fans off if it’s ever necessary, and I made sure to add good grounding. Except for Cab 2 though, all the other fans are left on and going full tilt, 24 hours a day.

Cab #3:

Exhaust fan specs:
33dB, 81CFM, 2,900RPM, 0.23”static pressure
0.17/0.16A , 16/14W
Ball bearing, 4.7”x 4.7”x 1”, 4 ¼” Ø fan
Turnover rate 8.88 times/min

Circulation fan specs:
34dB, 36CFM, 3,200RPM, 70 Pa static pressure
0.13A, 11W
Sleeve bearing, 3.15”x 3.15”x 1 ½” body, 3” Ø fan

The original exhaust fan I planned to install in Cab 3 would hypothetically have turned the air over at better’n 14 times per minute, but it was far too loud for my garden. At 47dB, it sounded like a blow drier set on “low” to my ear. The newer fan isn’t nearly as quick, but it’s a helluva lot more discreet.

While all of the cabs have a passive air inlet on the back wall, the flower and veg cabs’ are actually leftovers from some earlier experiments with active intakes. Cabs 3 n’ 1 have additional inlets below their false floors, and all of ‘em are clustered at the far end away from the exhaust fan, drawing the air through the longest dimension on the way out. What really makes axial fans workable here is the single, best piece of advice I got since I started growing, from a bud brudda in the UK named POTential...make the passive intakes from 3 to 5 times the area of the active exhaust hole. The large area of the inlet helps offset the rotten static pressure the fans generate. My temps dropped like a stone when I did this, and the fans ran quieter. But I’ve seen growers successfully use as little as twice the area of the exhaust, so I’d always suggest experimenting. Gardens are like fingerprints, and no one’s are exactly alike.

The filters covering the intake holes are pieces of fine grade Scotch-Brite (#96). Yes, the scrubbing and polishing type of pad. While it’s certainly not HEPA grade, it’s still a perfect miniature of an air filter for a regular home, and blocks the critters, dirt, and most light without obstructing air flow significantly.

Breathe...Breathe in the Air:
Ventilation was arguably the biggest PITA I wrestled with along my l’arnin’ curve, and if I HAD to peg one system as most important in the overall construction, IMHO this’d be it. The greatest enemy my garden faces on a regular basis is the buildup of heat, which micros are especially susceptible to in their confined spaces. The biggest impact comes from the lights and the cab’s immediate, ambient environment. Combined with the fact that most, if not all, noise generated in a grow cab is directly related to the fans being used for ventilation, and their vital role in odor control as well, this component simply plays a huge part in stealth operations.

I’d make a general recommendation of 8 to 10 times per minute as a reasonable air exchange rate, with cabs less than 10 to 15 cubic feet in volume usin’ fluoros. While that’s been satisfactory overall for me, 10 to 12 times per minute as a rule of thumb might’ve been a lil’ better. When I eventually upgrade to the 150W HPS, I’ll hafta tinker and experiment again. Judging from other growers’ results, it looks like 15 to 20 times per minute might be the sweet spot to aim for if I wanna stay away from a cool-tube type o’ light. I’ll find out fer sure eventually, LOL...I’d also suggest using passive intake(s) with active exhaust, over using an active inlet to force air in. There are a few reasons, but axials operate at least 4 or 5 times more efficiently pulling the air out, than they do pushing it in. I’ve spent quite a bit of time diggin’ through various reference materials, trying to get a better handle on ventilation, among other things. I’ll tell ya, I’m still no expert an’ never will be, but at least I have done my homework. I posted my results in an essay elsewhere on the web, a brief summary for reducing fan and airflow noise while keepin’ good flow. Like so many other pieces, that wasn’t saved so it’s gone missin’ too, but I at least still have the skeleton for it somewhere on my hard drive. I’ll hafta rebuild that as well*sigh*...but this sorta subject is pretty involved at times, and would be better covered in detail by another thread. Now if I can just find the time...

Peace ‘n happy growin’...
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:52 AM
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HerbalTea HerbalTea is offline
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Default Light Seals

Several people have asked about the details regarding light leakage and baffling, which I only mentioned in the ventilation post as regards the air inlets an’ exhaust. The main light baffles for the doors don’t only serve their obvious function. They also seal the cabs’ biggest holes and keep the airflow goin’ in the direction that I want it to go. I’m sure it ain’t absolutely airtight and there’re plenty of tiny leaks, but overall control o’ venting (and thus temps...)is a great bonus, and I can definitely feel the air pullin’ against me when I open the door.

These are some brief construction notes with pics and line drawings of what I did for my situation, an’ hopefully it’ll spawn some ideas or inspiration for another grower. I’ve used quite a few drawings here instead of pics, since the flat black/white makes for rotten contrast. Some details vary between the cabs, but the basic idea behind ‘em all remains the same. With the right tools an’ some care, something better than this could easily be milled. The only real limit is your imagination an’ wallet.

My first consideration was in keepin’ those large swing doors operating normally for easy access, while blocking light leaks effectively. It also had to work automatically, routinely and be completely unobtrusive. To do all this I made a stepped edge for the doors to rest in around the doorway perimeter, like a safe or bank vault, creating at least one 90° corner. Panels of flat white 3/16” foam core board are mounted to the doors’ interiors, nestling snugly into the staggered corner when closed. To cover the crack between the doors, the panel on the right side door overhangs to the left by 2 inches. That outer exposed portion is painted ultra-flat black, and the left-hand door must be opened first.


To build the light baffles around the doorway I used stock wood moldings from Home Despot. There are two styles, an “L” shaped one and some plain, rectangular beading. It’s just cheap pine, although I took some time selecting it to get better pieces with the least warp or splits. I opted for a modular design usin’ simple 90° butt joints throughout, but everything is custom fit. It took a lotta sanding and re, re, re-dry fittin’ before all the parts were finally right before gluing. I highly recommend using a miter box at the very least, or a good table saw would be even better...You can see from the pics how it all went together, and sometimes notches or holes had to be made to accommodate cab hardware. I used a good, water resistant wood glue for assembling the baffles and their “pockets” for the hardware, went one step at a time, doing my best to let everything dry well, blocked up or securely clamped into a square form. That really helped work out some of the unavoidable twist in some of the wood I’d selected. The holes in the baseplates are slightly oversized to allow for any small adjustments and get out the last of any bends at installation. Naturally the exterior sides are flat black and the insides flat white. Cab #1 cost about 40-50$ in materials here, and it was around 50/60 bucks to do the other split-level cab later.



The pin n’ barrel style hinges on Cab 1 weren’t hard to accommodate, but the latching magnets and hidden-hinges required more carvin’ to the baffles. I used some of the abundant scraps to build pockets behind the baffles and make some dead space anywhere it was needed. The hinges for Cabs #2/3 were still a hair too long, and I had to knock out a small piece at the rear of their pockets and seal ‘em with caulk. After a final dry fit, the doorway baffles were painted and installed, using overlapping butt joints as pictured above. After I was done, I was pleasantly surprised by how much rigidity and solidity the cabs themselves gained as a result.



The other half of the light baffling system are the 3/16” panels installed on the doors. I opted to use light weight foam core board here so the cabs wouldn’t get front heavy when the doors were opened. This stuff is basically a sheet of foam styrene plastic, sandwiched between two pieces of extra-heavy-duty paper. It’s also reasonably cheap and semi-durable, readily available at arts and crafts stores, and easy to work with. A straight edge and sharp razor are about all you need to work it. It doesn’t like solvent based paints very much, so use those with caution or stick with water based. On Cab 1, I used trimmed cedar shims to mount the foam core board to the doors, a cheaper but very tedious option. With Cabs #2 an’ 3 I simply used a double layer of foam core instead, which was far easier but doubled the material cost. Well worth it, as it also gave me some additional room I needed later for cutting out locking hardware pockets. Sheet metal screws with washers hold the panels in place against the doors, and I’m happy to say everything works just great. Although Cabs 2 n’ 3 were perfectly fine when done, there were still some very slight light leaks from Cab #1 at first. Some additional soft weather stripping around the doorway and a small patch easily took take care of that.
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Old 11-30-2009, 04:49 PM
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Nice DIY Herbal.
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:28 PM
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Yeah nice write-up on that gig there Herb. Looks good, good work
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:58 PM
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Wow, I am impressed
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:50 AM
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Super impressed... great set up!
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