If you’re new to indoor gardening and have wondered about the benefits of a grow tent and what type of gardener they’re suitable for, read on…
Go into any decent grow shop these days and you will usually be faced with a variety of ‘tents’ in different shapes and sizes. If you’re new to indoor gardening and have wondered about the benefits of a grow tent and what type of gardener they’re suitable for, read on…
Put simply, a grow tent is a portable room in which a light and fan/ filter unit can be hung above the plants. Historically, many growers created their own room within a room’ by putting together a simple wooden frame and fixing reflective sheeting (either white or silver) to the walls, floor and ceiling. The grow tent follows this concept, but is easier and quicker to put together, is light proof and waterproof, and can be easily dismantled and hidden away between grows.
Grow tents create a semi-sealed environment that uses negative pressure to prevent the smell of your crop from escaping. Negative pressure occurs when the amount of air being moved out of the tent is greater than the amount of air being moved in. Provided the extraction fan is constantly on, the only way the ‘smelly’ air can leave the tent is through the filter and fan.
Regarding extraction, it’s always a good idea to upscale your fan and filter size. For example, if a five-inch extraction is sufficient for your grow tent, then go for a six-inch setup. This way, you can use a speed controller to run the larger fan at around two-thirds capacity, which will reduce the amount of noise that the fan makes. Also, having the extra power in reserve allows you to increase the air exchange during the warmer summer months and keep growing all year round.
Not sure if a grow tent is for you? Here are a few examples of tent set-ups:
The Closet Grower: for the smoker looking to keep trips to the dealer to a minimum, but with little space to spare for an indoor garden; a small, 31.5 by 31.5 inch (80 by 80 cm) grow tent offers the ideal environment for around four or five plants. This size of setup can be easily hidden away in the corner of a bedroom, ideal for a small-scale, covert grow-op. With a bit of experience, you could pull seven to eight ounces per grow from this space.
The equipment can be kept simple. A basic 250-watt lamp with a euro reflector will take care of the lighting duties; it’s not necessary to invest in an expensive reflector to direct light on the plants – in a tent of that size there is nowhere for the light to escape.
A five-inch fan and filter will easily be able to handle the extraction and air exchange requirements of a 31.5 by 31.5 inch tent space. There is no need to use an additional fan for the air intake, as the passive intakes in the tent will suffice.
Growers who would prefer a hydro setup in their small tent have a decent amount of systems to choose from: a small Gro-Tank 205 is the choice for NFT; a Wilma Four, Flo-Gro or Waterfarm are the drip irrigation options, and small ‘ebb and flow’ systems are also available for that tent size. Any of these options will help to increase yields and cut down on growing times, allowing you to get more crops in per year. The small tent can be used to propagate, grow and then dry your crop – very handy if you do not have the space to set up a separate propagation and drying area.
The Domestic Producer: for the grower looking for a continuous production line that guarantees a decent-sized yield (providing some smoke for themselves and some surplus for the bank) a two-tent setup is the way forward – ideally, a propagation tent and a main tent.
A propagation tent offers a compact environment for bringing on seeds or cuttings. Most good propagation tents are supplied with shelving, on which several propagators can be placed, and are large enough to house a big T5 propagation light unit. Young plants are brought on in this tent and then transferred into the main growing tent.
A 94.5 by 47.5 inch (2.4 by 1.2 m) tent offers enough space to pull some serious yield, but is still compact enough to fit into most spare bedrooms, attics or basements. Two 600-watt lighting units will cover that amount of space without the need for air cooling. If you’re feeling adventurous go for two 1,000-watts, but be prepared to increase the size of your extraction fan or buy some air-cooled shades in order to cope with the additional heat.
An eight-inch fan and filter will handle the air exchange; an additional fan for the air intake can be an optional extra for the warmer summer months.
Once the plants are mature and harvest time is three to four weeks away, it is time to fire up the propagation tent again. Plant your seeds or root your cuttings at this time and you’ll have young plants potted up and ready to transplant into the main tent as soon as the main crop is harvested. This crop can then be dried on the shelves in the propagation tent. A continuous production line!
“More and more commercial producers are opting for multiple large tent setups.„
The Commercial Producer: there are now several tent sizes available for the large scale grower, and more and more commercial producers are opting for multiple large tent setups. The benefits are clear to see: keeping plants in the same room, but within multiple sealed units, reduces the risk of pests or disease spreading through the entire crop, it also allows heat to be vented out of each unit into different areas, which reduces the heat signature of the grow.
A 94.5 by 94.5 inch (2.4 by 2.4 m) tent is a popular size for commercial setups. A ten-inch extraction kit will handle the air exchange and will need to be coupled with a six-inch fan for the air intake.
Four 600-watt lamps will provide light coverage. For similar coverage and less heat output, try two 1000-watt lamps on light movers. These motorized movers operate on a rail that is fixed onto the cross members of the tent roof and slowly track the lamp from one side of the tent to the other. A lower power consumption and less heat output per unit is a major plus point in multiple tent setups.