By Nico Escondido

I hate to admit it, but the tides are turning. In fact, they have turned and there’s no denying it anymore. I remember my first growroom system (circa 1995) was homemade and featured a large Utz pretzel barrel as my hydroponic reservoir. For years afterward, I still preached the good word of handcrafted systems, using inverted Coca-Cola bottles as grow pods and hanging (eek) 100-watt halogens over sprouted bag seeds of Mexi mid-grade…. We have come so far.

These days, to be honest, there is little reason not to take a long, hard look at some of the prefabricated systems currently available in the marketplace. With prices manageable enough that after a harvest or two these systems pay for themselves, anyone from college students to home hobbyists can afford small to midsized grow boxes that come complete with everything a novice gardener would need to produce a little homegrown nugget.

Out-of-the-Box
Turnkey systems that are out there today are no longer only for small stash growing. Potent, high-yielding cannabis crops are easily attainable in grow boxes that come complete with miniature hydroponic systems, high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps and even feature CO2 injector kits and air filtration systems. With better technology and cheaper material costs, more and more manufacturers are finding ways to fit everything a complete grow op would need into smaller packages that make for much better use of space and resources.

Made to fit snugly into closets or disguised to look like mini-refrigerators, grow boxes can be used hydroponically or with soil. Grow chambers can range from 2’ x 2’ to 4’ x 6’ and come in a variety of heights with varying facades. Some systems have completely automated controls for atmosphere, lighting and feeding systems and most can be modified to customer specifications before ordering—or amended by growers themselves after-market. This is good news because with more possibilities comes more opportunity for grows that are well suited for your specific conditions.

Even Better
Even better is the fact that these small grow boxes have literally revolutionized the way small-time growers approach their grow strategy. Resigned to seed-only germinations because of lack of space for mother rooms and nurseries, home growers now have a viable method for growing clone-only strains and utilizing sea-of-green (SOG) systems.

An excellent example of this is the marketing approach used by BC Northern Lights, aptly naming their Mothership grow box for exclusive cultivation of mother plants that can be used to populate entire growrooms with cuttings. Of course, grow boxes like the Mothership can be used for complete, two-phase grow cycles. In fact, most European countries use grow boxes for both vegetative and flowering phases where personal use is the primary objective (the Mothership sells by the another name across the pond—the Roommate). Some grow boxes are actually double boxes that use a dividing wall to create two grow chambers. One chamber uses an 18-hour photoperiod for vegging, while the other side runs a 12-12 schedule for budding.

Grow boxes compact enough to take up as much space as a bedroom dresser can hold up to five mother plants, enough to easily supply 50 to 75 clones. Also, consider these smaller grow boxes can act as a “genetics bank” for your favorite strains as you come across them. If you’re keeping four or five moms, there’s no rule that says they must be related. As they say, variety can be the spice of life.

Security and Power Efficiency
As always, we have some added bonuses to share. Consider now security. How does a home grower or dormitory resident hide a personal grow op? How might a closet grower conceal his power consumption? These are the questions many first-time growers ask before even deciding on how or what to grow.

For more cultivation tips, visit Nico on MySpace at www.myspace.com/marijuanagrowing.