Excerpt from Jorge’s Upcoming Book:
The Cannabis Encyclopedia: Indoor, Outdoor and Greenhouse Cultivation, Concentrates and Cooking Medical Marijuana
Chapter 10: Garden Rooms
Garden rooms require a secure space, consistent environment, and a regular maintenance schedule. They also increase carbon footprint. Climate, consistency, and security are the best reasons to garden indoors. Medical cannabis can also be started in a garden room and moved into a greenhouse or outdoors. Plants get an early start with minimal environmental impact when moved outdoors.
To set up a garden room, you must first assess needs and desires. How much medicinal cannabis do you want to grow? How much time, space, and money are you able to invest to achieve this goal? Do you want to build the garden room, or do you prefer to purchase a prefabricated “grow closet?” Building a garden room takes time, skill, and a budget. The room will also need adequate electrical power, an air ventilation outlet, and a source of clean water.
Growing an indoor garden like this from start to finish requires an investment of time, money, planning, and hard work.
Your personality traits and habits are also important to consider. Do you have a regular schedule? Do you have enough time to dedicate to this project? Do you start projects and tend to not finish them? Are you away from home several days at a time? All of these factors figure into your ability to maintain an indoor medical cannabis garden.
You will have to make your own clones if a source of clones is not readily available. You will have to divide the room in two to form a clone/mother room and a flowering room. The harvest can be periodic or perpetual.
Once divided, the rooms need vent fans and filters, circulation fans, hygrometers/thermometers, and sources of water and electricity.
The size of the garden space dictates the type, wattage, and number of lamps. The most efficient lights with the highest lumens-per-watt conversion include CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and HIDs (high intensity discharge lamps). CFLs are available in various lengths and wattages. See Chapter 17, Light, Lamps and Electricity, for more information on each type of lamp.
The goal of the garden room is to supply everything that medical cannabis needs to grow well.
- CO2 and O2 content
- spectrum (color)
- photoperiod (hours of light per day)
- pH (a measure of acidity or alkalinity)
- EC (electrical conductivity)
- O2 content
Growing Medium 20%
- air content
- moisture content
This barrel full of water illustrates that cannabis will grow only as fast as its most limiting factor. Light, air, and imbalanced soil are most often the factors that limit growth indoors.
According to a study by Evan Mills, PhD*, indoor cannabis gardeners use 1 percent of all electricity in the USA, shelling out $5 billion dollars to electric utility companies every year. This is the equivalent use of 2 million average households. Approximately 22 billion kilowatt hours are consumed.California, one of 16 states to allow cultivation of medical cannabis, is estimated to consume 3 percent of all electricity in the state. Gasoline and diesel electric generators use about 140 gallons (530 L) of fuel to produce one plant.
*Read the summary and full report, Energy up in Smoke: the Carbon Footprint of Indoor Cannabis Production, at http://evan-mills.com/energy-associates/Indoor.html
Even efficient indoor rooms like this one create a carbon footprint. Fortunately, these plants will be moved outdoors in the coming weeks.
Gardeners cultivate medical cannabis indoors to produce high-quality crops and keep their high-value produce from thieves. Keeping cannabis illegal increases the carbon footprint of gardeners. Criminalizing cannabis contributes to long driving distances, odor and noise suppression, and off-grid fossil fuel power production.
Reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your use of electricity, gas, and diesel fuel. Promote renewable energy generation. Use indoor grow room heating, cooling, and lighting systems more efficiently. Install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
More efficient growing practices lower carbon footprints, as does using lower-wattage lamps and fewer electrical and fossil fuel–using devices. Employing all the natural principles possible will help lower carbon footprints. Human caloric energy is much less expensive than fossil fuel energy, and we can make more human energy quickly, but fossil fuel energy takes a very long time to recreate.Growing medical cannabis outdoors eliminates most costs other than for a few tools, transport, water, soil amendments, and fertilizer.
Mix your own fertilizers from simple, readily available elements. When you purchase local ingredients and mix your own organic fertilizers, you are supporting local industry and farmers. You are also lowering your overall carbon footprint by decreasing transport, packaging, and sales costs.
Use online tools to qualify your carbon footprint. Enter information on electricity, gas and diesel fuel usage and vehicle fuel consumption, and renewable energy generation to measure your total carbon footprint.Take a couple of minutes to fill out the Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator (www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/index.htm) to get an idea of the environmental waste you produce.
Closed (Sealed) Rooms
Closed or sealed garden rooms have most all of the qualities found in a phytotron, a scientific growth chamber, and they create a very big carbon footprint. Just like a phytotron, precise control of each factor—light, temperature, humidity, CO2, and so forth—can be individually controlled in a closed room. The room is sealed completely so all air that enters and exits is controlled. Targeted specifically at the high-tech gardener, sealed rooms are for gardeners with advanced skills.
This enclosed room has its ballasts outside so the entire room can be sealed off. In fact, a fire started in this room several months before this photograph was taken. Since the room was tightly sealed, limited oxygen was available and the fire went out. After the fire, the gardener moved the source of the fire—ballasts—out of the room. Do not count on fires putting themselves out in sealed rooms, however. This gardener got lucky!
This sealed room is set up and ready for the gardener to bring in clones and start growing. The entire room is spotless and free of pathogens.
The room must be sealed completely so that no air enters or exits. Caulk all corners and put weatherstripping around doors. Some gardeners install a vent fan to create a very small amount of negative pressure. An air conditioner is essential to supply fresh filtered air.
A sophisticated air filter can be installed to scrub ethylene, nitrous oxides, and other contaminants such as fungi from the air in the room and precisely control fresh air exchange.
A 20-pound CO2 tank lasts two weeks in a sealed room with ten1,000-watt lamps. The room must be equipped with a big air conditioner to adequately dehumidify and cool the air. The grower must figure out how many watts the air conditioner uses , and how much it will cool the room.
Recommended Btu Requirements for A/C in Sealed Rooms
|Cumulative Watts||A/C Btu’s Moderate Temp||A/C Btu’s Low Temp|
|Fuel Type||Btu’s per Unit of Fuel|
|Shelled corn||6,300 Btu’s per pound|
|Propane||91,500 Btu’s per gallon|
|Natural gas||100,000 Btu’s per therm|
|Kerosene||127,000 Btu’s per gallon|
|Electricity||3,413 Btu’s per kilowatt hour|
GroBots are able to perform robotic control including remote iPhone video monitoring. A fully equipped 12-light grow room costs $80,000 USD and has a big carbon footprint. The initial out-of-pocket cost is more than $6,500 per installed 1,000-watt lamp. It will take two perfect and heavy harvests to cover the initial cost—not including genetics, growing supplies, and electricity. Turnkey convenience is expensive in both money and carbon footprint. A small single-light homemade semi-sealed garden room costs about $1,000 USD to set up and performs nearly the same level of control.
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