Question of the Week:

Hey man! I'm looking into starting a closet grow. I'm a beginner at growing and was hoping you could give me some tips as to what kind of setup I should use? Here are a few things I would like your opinion on and if I missed anything please let me know; Hydro setup or soil? Grow box or grow tent (I can't have smell leaking out of the closet)? Any strains genetic specific for indoor and/or closet growing? What I should expect to spend on a good setup? I really appreciate the help!

- Michael

Answer from Nico:
Hello Michael and thanks for reading and writing in. It’s much appreciated and always fun to talk some grow with beginners!

You ask some very good questions. There’s quite a few things to consider when growing plants indoors, especially a closet. To start with, a standard closet (4’ x 4’ x 8’) is generally a pretty small space and as such may have problems holding a turnkey unit such as an automated grow box or even a tent. The smallest grow tents may fit in a standard closet and if so, these provide an excellent growroom space for indoor gardens. Grow tents offer reflective coating in the interior of the tent and seal very well so that light pollution doesn’t leak out of the garden.

Speaking of lighting, this is one item you did not mention, but it is very important. Good light energy is what drives plant development, as light is the key component in photosynthesis, which is how plants make their food. Adding water and some nutrients is beneficial, but without good light a plant will not do well. Luckily, anyone can get a decent HID (high-intensity discharge) bulb and ballast at local hardware stores such as Lowes or Home Depot (Just make sure you get the right ballast for these bulbs!). A 250- or 400-watt bulb will usually suffice for a standard closet.

A 400-watt bulb can adequately grow four or five medium sized (3-4 feet) plants in five-gallon containers (soil) or in a small hydro set-up (like deep-water culture buckets). Your closet size will really determine what kind of system you can have and whether or not you can even use a hydroponic system. For a standard closet, it’s probably best to go with a soil or soilless grow medium in breathable pots such as woven or fabric bag containers in a small 4’ x 4’ tray (to catch any run-off from watering). Aside from the fact that most automated hydro systems won’t fit in such small spaces, it is also worth considering the fact that hand-watering plants is an excellent learning tool for new growers. BY manually watering and feeding your plants each day, you are forced to go into the garden and interact with your plants. This helps to identify deficiencies in mineral heath (discolored leaves) or in moisture amounts (wilting stems, branches and leaves) as well as pest infestations such as mold or bugs.

In terms of costs, be weary. For a simple beginner home set-up you do not have to spend tons of money as some would lead you to believe (i.e., in your local hydro shop). In fact, as I mentioned earlier, growers can find many of the tools and garden supplies they need at local hardware stores that often have lower prices than a hydroponics store. 

For a closet grow, a small 2’ x 4’ tent ($160) plus a 400-watt HPS (high-pressure sodium) lamp ($150) will be your biggest expenses. After that, it’s soil, containers, maybe some light nutrients to mix in to your watering cycle and, of course, good genetics. Depending on the quality of seed or clones you buy this may end of costing between $150-$200. So all in, I think a savvy consumer can get this all up and running for between $400-$500. Of course, this will go up if you want to add an automated hydro system, or it can go down if you eliminate the tent or go with a smaller lamp. But if you are going to splurge, I recommend spending the money on good seed or clones, as quality genetics is the true basis of a successful grow operation!

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at Edit.Grow@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line!