There Few things in life as good as your own herb,
grown by yourself at home out in the garden and indoors in pots...
Oregano, Dill, Basil, Sage and other herbs are all easy to grow. Mint
will take over the whole yard if you let it. Fresh mint and celantro
are incredible in salads and oriental dishes. But it all comes down to
a truly motivational herb that is your friend and mine, a great healer
and teacher to those that know it well.
Most people think of
gardens as a seasonal, yearly project, but it’s actually less time
consuming and more rewarding to keep the garden going year round. If
one were to attempt to grow year round, indoor gardening techniques
will be needed at least during winter to keep the garden producing. You
will have herb fresh at all times, there is no worry of mass storage
thru the winter and spring, it requires less space, and once
established, requires only minimal attention every week to keep it
producing at optimal levels.
The best part of being a gardener is it connects you to the earth. It
connects you with nature, and is spiritually enriching. Try giving your
plants energy by beaming good thoughts and energy at them every time
you visit them. I find this helps me as much as it helps them; my
plants seem to respond to it favorably.
GENETICS AND THE PLANT
It’s very important to start with good genetics. You should attempt to
find seeds from local gardeners that are acclimated and bred for local
climate and best floral characteristics. Potency, aroma, fast growth,
early maturation, resistance to fungus and pests. All of these factors
are considered by the seasoned gardener and you will benefit enormously
by finding a friend to get you started on the journey that never ends...
Attempt to find an Indica/Sativa hybrid if possible, as this will have
the best high and good characteristics for indoor growth as well.
Indica plants have a heavy, stony high that is tiresome, and sativas’
are hard to grow indoors due to high light requirements, and late
flowering traits, so a hybrid can be bread that will have the
energetic, cerebral high of the sativa and the early maturation
tendencies of the Indica plant.
The Indica plant is easily recognized by its extremely broad leaves
that are very rounded on the sides. The Sativa has very narrow,
finger-like leaves. A hybrid will have qualities of both and have
leaves that are a cross of these two types, thinner than an Indica, but
much broader than a Sativa. It is possible to recognize a good hybrid
by the leaves once you know what to look for.
Look for seeds that are dark brown or light grey. Some may have dark
lines inset into these colors, like tiger stripes. White, small seeds
are immature and should not be planted.
Marijuana in America Colorado Pot
OUTDOORS - CONSTANT HARVEST STRATEGY
One of the best solutions to energy verses output for most home
gardeners is to use outdoor light for flowering and use continuous
light indoors for germination and vegetative growth. This will take
advantage of the natural light/dark cycle and cut your energy use in
half compared to the same operation indoors. A small greenhouse can be
built of Filon fiberglass or PVC sheets that is innocuous and looks
much like a storage shed or tool shed so it’s not likely to raise
In fact, a large shed of metal or plywood can be modified with a
luminous roof of PVC, glass, fiberglass or plastic sheet, and some
strains that do not require a great deal of light will grow well. Such
a shed will discourage fly-by sightings and keep your business your
own! It also allows you to keep out rats and gophers, keeps out the
neighbor kids, and can be easily locked up. It will also give you an
opportunity to actually plant in the ground if you desire, and this is
the best way to avoid root-bound plants (if your not using
hydroponics), and get bigger harvests.
In winter, indoor space is used to start new seedlings or cuttings to
be placed outside in the spring, using natural sunlight to ripen the
plants. This routine will provide at least 3
outdoor/greenhouse harvests per year. If more space is
available to constantly be starting indoors and flowering 2nd harvest
plants outdoors, harvests are possible every 60 days in many areas,
with a small indoor harvest in the winter as a possibility as well.
The basic strategy of year round production is to understand the plant
has two growth cycles. At germination the plant enters into a
vegetative state and will be able to use all the continuous light you
can give it. This means there is no dark cycle required. The plant will
photosynthesis constantly and grow faster than it would outdoors with
long evenings. Photosynthesis stops during dark periods and
the plant uses sugars produced to build during the evening. This is not
a requirement and the plant will grow faster at this stage with
continuous photosynthesis (constant light).
Once the plant is 12-18” tall, weather permitting, it can be forced to
start flowering by placing it outside in the Spring or Fall. (For
Summer outdoor flowering, the night must be artificially lengthened in
the greenhouse to “force” the plants to flower. See FLOWERING chapter.)
Moving the plants to 10-13 hour light periods (moving it outside) with
uninterrupted darkness (no bright lights nearby) will force the plant
to flower. It will ripen and be 2-3’ when ready to harvest. When a
plant is moved from continuous indoor light to a 10-13 hour day
outside, it will start to flower in anticipation of oncoming winter.
Vegetative starts moved outside March 1st, will be ripe by May 1.
Vegetative starts moved outside on May 1 will be ripe by July 1. Starts
moved outside Sept 1 are picked by Nov. 1st. In Winter, operations are
moved indoors and a crop is planted for seed in anticipation of
planting outdoors the next summer, or just for some extra winter stash.
Keep in mind that the “man” is looking for plants in the
Sept./Oct./Nov. time-frame, and may never notice plants
placed outside to flower in April. Be smart, make your big
harvest in May, not October!
A small indoor space should be found that can be used to germinate
seeds; these vegetative starts are placed outside to mature in the
spring after last freezes are over. The space can be a closet, a
section of a bedroom, a basement area, an attic or unused bathroom.
Some people devote entire bedrooms to growing.
The space must be light leak proofed, so that no suspicious light is
seen from outside the house. This could invite fuzz or rip-offs.
The space should be vented. Opening the door of a closet can be enough
ventilation if the space is not lit by big lights that generate a lot
of heat. Separate exhaust and incoming air vents are best. One at the
top of the room to exhaust air into the attic or out the roof, and one
to bring in air from an outside wall or under-floor crawl space. Use
fans from old computer cabinets, available from electronic liquidators
for $5 each. Dimmer swithes can be used to regulate the
speed/noise of the fans. Use silicon to secure the fans to 4-6” PVC
pipe pushed thru a round hole cut in the floor and ceilings. Use lots
of silicon to damp the fans vibrations, so that the walls do not
resonate to the fans’ ocsilations.
Line the walls with aluminum foil, dull side out to diffuse the light
and prevent hot-spots, or paint the walls bright white to reflect
light. Aluminized mylar, 1 mil thick is best.($20 for 25 feet
of a 4’ wide roll.)
Mirrors are not good to use, since the glass eats light!
Line the floor with plastic in case of water spills, etc. Set up a
voltage interrupt socket and be sure the electrical wiring will handle
the lamps your going to use. Always place ballasts for HID lamps on a
shelf, so they are above floor level, in case of water spills. Spacers
place on the floor under a ballast will work too.
A shelf above the main grow area can be used to clone cuttings and
germinate seedlings. It will allow you to double the area of your grow
space and is an invaluable storage area for plant food, spray bottles
and other gardening supplies. This area stays very warm, and no
germination warming pad will be needed, so this arrangement saves you $.
Hang a light proof curtain to separate this shelf from the main area
when used for flowering. This will allow constant lights on the shelf
and dark periods in the main grow area. Velcro can be used to keep the
curtain in place and ties can be used to roll it up when tending the
garden. Black vinyl with white backing works best.
Now you need light. A couple of shop lights will be fine if you just
want to start plants inside and then take them outside to grow in a
small greenhouse. They can be purchased with bulbs for about $10 each,
or without bulbs for around $8. Try to find them on sale. Use one Cool
White and one Warm Light type bulb in each to get the best light
spectrum possible for plant growth. Do not use expensive Grow Lux type
bulbs, as they do not put out as much light, and therefor do not work
as well in most situations (go figure). If Cool White is all you can
find, or afford, use them. They work fine, and are by far the
cheapest.(About $1-2 each.)
Shelf gardening with fluorescents may be the trend of the future, since
the materials are so inexpensive, and easy to obtain. Fluorescent lamps
are great for shelf gardening. In this system, many shelves can be
placed, one above the other, and fluorescent lamps are used on each
shelf. Some shelves have 24 hour lighting, some have 12 hour lighting
(for flowering). Two areas are best, perhaps with one other devoted to
cloning and germination of seed.
Shelf gardening assumes your going to keep all plants 3’ or shorter at
maturity, so all shelves are 3-4 feet apart. Less light is necessary
when you have plants that are this short and forced to mature early.
One drawback to a shelf garden like this is that it is very time
consuming to adjust the lamp height every day, and it is harder to take
a vacation for even a week with no tending of the garden. This applies
mostly to the vegetative stage, when plants are growing as much as an
inch per day. Lamps on the flowering shelves are not adjusted nearly as
Normally, the lamps should be kept within 2 inches of the tops of the
plants, with the plants arranged such that they get progressively
taller as the end of the lamps go up, so that all plants are within
this 2” range. This is an ideal however, and if you do go on vacation,
adjust the lamps so that your sure the plants will not be able to grow
up to the lamps within that length of time. If enough flourecents are
used to completely saturate the shelf with light, the spacing issue
will not create spindly plants. They will mearly grow a little slower
if the lamps are not very close to them.
An alternative is to use fluorescent lamps for cloning, germination and
early seedling growth on the top shelf of a closet, then switch over to
HPS for heavy vegatative growth and/or flowering in the main closet
Position the HPS such that it won’t need adjustment, at the top most
possible point in the closet or room. Most HPS installations will not
require lamp height adjustment. Just attach the lamp to the underside
of shelf or ceiling as high as possible, and if you want to get a few
plants closer to it, put them on a temporary shelf, box or table to get
them closer to the lamp.
A shelf is all that is necessary with this type of setup, preferably at
least 18” wide, up to about 24” maximum. This area must be painted a
very bright white, or covered with aluminum foil, dull side out to
reflect light back to the plants. (Dull side out prevents hot-spots;
diffuses light better.) Paint the shelf white too. Or, use aluminized
mylar, a space blanket, or any silvery surface material. Do not use
mirrors, as the glass soaks up light.
Hang shop lamps from chains and make sure you can adjust them with
hooks or some other type of mechanism so they can be kept as close to
the plants as possible at all times (1-2”).
If the lamps are too far from the plants, the plants could grow long,
spindly stems trying to reach the lamp, and will not produce as much
bud at maturity. This is due to internode length being much
longer. This is the length of stem between each set of
leaves. If it is shorter, there can be more internodes, thus
more branches, thus a plant that provides more buds in less space at
Shelf gardening is sometimes referred to as Sea of Green, because many
plants are grown close together, creating a green canopy of tops that
are grown and matured quickly, and the next crop is started and growing
concurrently in a separate area of continuous light. Clones are raised
in a constant light shelf, until they start to grow well vegetatively,
then placed on a 12 hour per day shelf to flower.
Indoors, 2008 lumens per sq. ft. is about as low as you want to go
indoors. If you get under this mark, plant growth will
certainly not go as fast as possible, and internode/stem length will
increase. Also, light distance to plants will be much more critical.
Daily adjustments to the lamps will be necessary, meaning you get no
2500 lumens psf should be a good target, and 3000 is optimal if your
going to inject or enrich CO2 levels (more on that later).
High Intensity Discharge lamps are the best solution for most indoor
growers. HID lamps come in 3 basic flavors: High Pressure Sodium (HPS),
Metal Halide (MH) and Mercury Vapor. Metal Halide is an improved
spectrum, higher intensity Mercury Vapor design. HPS is a yellowish
sort of light, maybe a bit pink or orange. Same as some street lamps.
HPS lamps can be used to grow a crop from start to finish. Tests show
that the HPS crop will mature 1 week later than a similar crop under
MH, but it will be a bigger yield, so it’s better to wait the extra
The easiest HID to buy, and least expensive initially are the
flourescent and mercury vapor lamps. MV will put out about 8000 lumens
per 175 watts, and 150 watts of HPS puts out about 15k lumens, so HPS
is almost twice as efficient. But the color spectrum from MV lamp
output is not as good. HPS is high in reds, which works well for
flowering, while the Metal Halide is rich in blues, needed for the best
vegetative growth. Unfortunately, MV lamps provide the worst spectrum
for plant growth, but are very inexpensive to purchase.They are not
recommended, unless you find them free, and even then, the
electricity/efficiency issues outweigh the initial costs saved.
400 watt HPS will output around 45k lumens. For every 500 watts of
continuous use, you use about $20 a month in electricity, so it is
evident that a lamp taking half the power to output the same lumens (or
twice the lumens at the same power level) will pay for itself in a year
or so, and from then on, continuous savings will be reaped. This is a
simple initial cost vs. operating costs calculation, and does not take
into account the faster growth and increased yield the HPS lamp will
give you, due to more light being available. If this is factored into
the calculation the HPS lamp will pay for itself with the first crop,
when compared to MV or fluorescent lamps, since it is easily twice as
efficient and grows flowers faster and bigger.
Lamp Type Watts Lumens per bulb Total
Halide 400 36000 400
watts = 36k lumens
High P. Sodium 400
45000 400 watts = 45k lumens
Notice the Mercury Vapor
lamps are less efficient than the fluorescent (FL), and can not be
positioned as close to the plants, so the plants will not be able to
use as much of the MV light. The light distribution is not as good
either. MV lamps simply are not suitable for indoor gardening. Use
flourecent, MH, or HPS lamps only. Halogen arc lamps generate too much
heat and not very much light for the wattage they use, and are also not
recommened, even though the light spectrum is suitable for decent
There is a new type of HPS lamp called Son Agro, and it is available in
a 250, 1000, and 400 watt range. The 400 is actually 430 watts; they
have added 30 watts of blue to this bulb. It is a very bright lamp (53k
lumens) and is made for greenhouse use. These bulbs can be purchased to
replace normal HPS bulbs, so they are an option if you already own a
HPS lamp. The beauty of this bulb is that you do not give up most of
the advantages of MH lamps, such as minimal internode spacing and early
maturation, like most HPS users do, and you have all advantages of a
HPS lamp. One bulb does it all.
Internodal length of plants grown with the Son Agro are the shortest
ever seen with any type of lamp. Plants grown under this lamp are
incredibly bushy, compact and grow very fast. Son Agro bulbs however,
do not last as long as normal HPS bulbs. There is something like a 25%
difference in bulb life.
Metal Halide (MH) is another option, and is available in both a 36k and
40k lumen bulbs for the 400 watt size. The Super Bulb (40k) is about
$10-15 more, and provides an extra 4000 lumens. I think the Super Bulb
may last longer; if so, that makes it the way to go. Halide light is
more blue and better than straight HPS for vegetative growth, but is
much less efficient than HPS. It is possible to purchase conversion
bulbs for a MH lamp that convert it to HPS, but the cost of the
conversion bulb is more expensive than the color corrected Son Agro
bulb, so I would recommend just buying the Son Agro HPS. Even though it
costs more initially, you get more for your energy dollar later, and
it’s much easier to hang than 10 fluorescent tubes.
If you have a MH 36k lumen lamp burning at 400 watts and a 53k lumen
HPS burning at 430 watts, which is better efficiency wise? Which will
provide a better yield? Obviously, the Son Agro HPS, but of course, the
initial cost is higher. Actually, the ballast will add about 10% to
these wattage numbers.
The Son Agro bulb will prove much better than the MH for any purpose.
The MH bulb does not last as long, but is cheaper. Compare $36 for a
400 watt MH bulb vs. $40 for the HPS bulb. Add $15 for the Son Agro
HPS. The HPS bulb life is twice as long. 10k hours vs. 21k hours. The
Son Agro is 16k hours or so. Still, longer bulb life and more light add
up to more for your energy dollar long term.
Horizontal mounting of any HID is a good idea, as this will boost by
30% the amount of light that actually reaches the plants. Most HID’s
sold for indoor garden use these days are of this horizontal mounting
HPS is much less expensive to operate than any other type of lamp, but
comes in the 70 watt size at the home improvement stores. This size is
not very efficient, but blows away FL in efficiency, so they might be
an alternative to FL for very small operations, like 9 sq. feet or
less. Over 9 sqr. feet, you need more light than one of these
lamps can provide, but you could use two of them.
70 watt HPS lamps cost about $40 each, complete.
Two lamps would be 140 watts putting out about 12k lumens, so it’s
better than FL, but a 150 watt HPS puts out about 18k lumens, the bulb
life is longer, bulbs are cheaper and the lamp more efficient to
operate. The biggest problem is that the mid size lamps like
the 150 and 250 watt HPS are almost as expensive to buy as the larger
400’s. For this reason, if you have room for the larger lamp, buy the
400. If your going pro, a 1080 watt model is available too,
but you might find there is better light distribution from two 400’s
rather than one large lamp. Of course, the two smaller lamps
are more expensive to purchase than one large lamp, so most people
choose the larger lamp for bigger operations.
Heat buildup in the room is a factor with HID lamps, and just how much
light the plants can use is determined by temperature, CO2 levels,
nutrient availability, PH, and other factors. Too big of a lamp for a
space will make constant venting necessary, and then there is no way to
enrich CO2, since it’s getting blown out of the room right away.
Bulb Costs: the bulb cost on the 70 watt HPS is $24, the 150 is only
$30, and the 400 is only $40. So you will spend more to replace two 70
watt bulbs than you will to replace one 400 watt HPS. (Go figure.) Add
that up with the lower resale value on the 70’s (practically nothing)
and the fact that they are being modified and are not suited to this
application, and it becomes evident that $189 for a 250 HPS lamp, or
$219 for a 400, might just be worth the price. Keep in mind that for
$30 more, you can have the larger lamp (400watt) and it puts out 20k
lumens more light than the smaller lamp. Not a bad deal!
Here is the breakdown on prices (from memory):
Type Complete Cost Bulb
Cost Bulb Life Lumens
$219 $40 18k hours 50k
$175 $37 10k hours 36k
$235 $55 15k hours 53k
$190 $45 ?? 40k
$149 $32 ?? 21k
$165 $36 ?? 27k
$180 $53 ?? 30k
$139 $25 ?? 14k
$150 $30 ?? 17k
If your looking for
these types of lamps, look in the Yellow Pages under gardening,
nursuries, and lighting for indoor gardening stores in your area.
SEA OF GREEN
Sea of Green (SOG) is the theory of harvesting lots of small plants,
matured early to get the fastest production of buds available. Instead
of growing a few plants for a longer period of time, in the same space
many smaller plants are grown that mature faster and in less time.
Thus, less time is required between crops. This is important to you
when the electricity bill comes each month. One crop can be started
while another is maturing, and a continuous harvest, year round can be
maintained. 4 plants per square foot will be a good start for
seedlings. 1 plant per square foot will allow plenty of room for each
plant to grow a large top cola, but will not allow for much bottom
branching. This is OK since indoors, these bottom branches are always
shaded anyway, and will not grow very well unless given additional
light and space. The indoor grower quickly realizes that plants that
are too tall do not produce enough at the bottom to make the extra
growing time used worth while. An exception to this rule
would be if it is intended the plants are to go outside at some point,
and it is expected that the light/shading issue will not be a factor at
The plants, if started at the same time, should create what is called a
“green canopy” that traps most of the light at the top level of the
plants. Little light will penetrate below this level, since
the plants are so close together. The gardener is attempting to
concentrate on the top of the plant, and use the light and space to the
best advantage, in as little time as possible. Use of nylon poultry
fence or similar trellising laid out over the green canopy
will support the plants as they start to droop under the weight of
heavy fruiting tops. Stakes can be used too, but are not as easy to
install for plants in the middle and back of the room, where reach is
It’s easy to want big plants, since they will produce more yield per
plant, but it’s usually better with limited space to grow smaller
plants that mature faster and pack into smaller spaces. Sea of Green
was developed in Holland. Instead of fitting 4 large plants in that
small room, fit 12 small ones on a shelf above 12 other small plants.
These plants take only 3-4 months to mature from germination to ripe
buds, and harvesting takes place constantly, since there is both a
vegetative and flowering area devoted to each, with harvests every
It’s not the size of the plant, but the maturity and quality of the
product that counts. Twice as many plants grown half as big will fill
the grow space twice as fast, so harvests take place almost twice as
often. Get good at picking early flowering plants, and
propagate only those that are of the best quality.
6” square containers will allow for 4 plants per square foot. You may
also gauge by the size of your growing tray (for passive hydroponics);
I like kitty litter boxes. ($3 each at Target) Planted 4 per square
foot, (for vegatative seedlings) a 12 sq. ft. closet will hold 48
seedlings on one shelf. In my case, I use 4” rockwool cubes
that fit into kitty litter pans @ 12 cubes per pan. I can get 5 pans
onto a 12 sq. ft. closet upper shelf, so that is 60 seedlings on one
For flowering indoors, 1 plant per sq. ft. is a good rule of thumb for
SOG. If less plants are grown in this size space, it will
take them longer to fill the space, thus more electricity and time will
be used to create the same amount of product. If more than one plant
p.s.f. is attempted, the grower will soon find that plants thus crowded
tend to be more stem than bud, and the total harvest may be reduced, so
It’s good to avoid “topping” your plants if you want them to grow as
fast as possible. It’s better just to grow 2 or 4 times more plants,
since they will produce more, faster, in the same space. Also,
“training” plants with twist-ties is a great way to get them to bush
out a bit. Just take any type of plastic or paper twist tie and wrap it
around the top of the plant, then pull it over until the top is bent
over 90-180 degrees and then attach this to the main stem lower on the
plant. Do this for one week and then release the plant from it’s bond.
The plant can be trained in this fashion to take less vertical space
and to grow bushier, to fill the grow space and force lower limbs to
grow upward and join the green canopy. This technique takes advantage
of the fact that if the top is pulled over, it creates a hormonal
condition in the plant that makes it bush out at all lower internodes.
Sea of Green entails growing to harvest the main cola (top) of the
plant. Bottom branches are trimmed to increase air flow under
the “blanket” of growing tops. Use these cuttings for clones, as they
are the easiest part of the plant to root. It’s also the fastest part
of the plant to regenerate after flowering has occurred.