First Grow - Constructive Criticism Appreciated

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67goat

67goat

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I am now entering the final stages of planning for my first grow. Initially, I was going to go smaller, but due to various decisions I made along the way, it ended up getting closer to the size I had planned for grow 3 or 4. I have not grown previously, but I have been trying to read extensively. I do not feel that I made all of the best decisions, however, they are the choices I have made. At this point, I am looking for any ideas those with experience can give me to maximize what I have.

I have a 4x8 tent and a 8x5gallon bucket DWC system. I plan to have one bucket per 2'x2'. I choose auto-flowers for the first few grows. I know that means I have less time to react to things, but I felt it would let me eliminate other variables. It will be a two strain grow of gorilla glue and white widow, staggered so that across and next to are different strains, this is intended to account for if one strain gets bigger than the other.

For the first few grows, I do not intend to do any training. I want to first get used to the plant, the grow system, and getting to know what the different parts of the plant I need to watch out for look like on a daily basis, and not just from looking at a few pictures from somebody else's grow. After I feel comfortable with that, I will do one more training free grow to get a baseline. Then I will either start adding training, or move to photos.

As for the hydroponics, I will probably alter the system to be RDWC by the third grow. However, the base price for an RDWC system was cost prohibitive. Even though I know I could have built a system cheaper and with a reservoir, I wanted to do the first grow with an off-the-shelf system that other people had success with. This was part of the eliminating variables part. I would rather not have to worry about whether I messed something up in the build. I can add the reservoir later (or even build something from the ground up).

I'm not that worried about water temps. The house is climate controlled, and I will be using Hydroguard. Nutes are GH FMB with a CalMag supplement. I have a 75 GPD RO system with a de-ionization attachment on the way. For ventilation, I have the intake attached to a 12"x12" furnace intake box using the cut-to-fit furnace filters, two wall mounted oscillating fans, and a 6 inch 440 CFM fan with a carbon filter. I will have several digital hygrometer/thermometers in the tent at different heights to make sure there are no dead spots (I bought one and several of the lights came with one, so why not).

As for lighting, well, that is a mix. Since all the lights are from China, I have no idea if they are what they are advertised as, but I have verified current draw and will "verify" the PPFD when I set the tent up. I put that in quotes, because I have no way to determine how (in)accurate the PAR meter I bought is. Also, it doesn't really matter what the individual lights do, it matters what the light rack I am putting together does as a unit.

light setuip.png

That crude drawing is what my light setup looks like from the top/bottom. The black line represent PVC (I left it white, it is only black here so it shows up). That PVC frame will be hung from the tent structure and can be lifted/lowered as a unit. The lights are hanging from eyebolts through the frame and can be lifted/lowered individually as the plants need. There are 8 100w COB lights with passive heat sinks and 90 degree lenses. They are advertised as 3500K CXB3590s. Those are the circles with the yellow dot. They are placed in the center of each 2'x2' square in the tent. The purple boxes are 110W actual draw blurple lights. The blue bars are 4' 20W 6500K T5 lights. Their placement is currently based on assumptions, but will be determined on final testing with the PAR meter in the tent.

That gets me 1440 actual watts (minus the draw of the fans in the blurples) of LED lights in different spectrums: 800W 3500K, 440W blurple, 200W 6500K. Hopefully, I will be able to set them just tight to get the PPFD I am looking for. Initial testing has me hopeful, but we will see when I get in the tent. That puts me at the continuous load for a single 15 amp circuit. I haven't tested all of the outlets in that room to see if they are on the same circuit, otherwise I will need to pull power from another room for the fans.

I was planning on doing the seed in rockwool, and probably clay pebbles. The medium is the last thing I need (to start). Pocket microscope, trimming scissors, grow room glasses, nutes, propagation trays, LUX meter, PAR meter, PH balancer, digital PH meter, digital TDS/EC/Temp meter, outlet watt meter, outlet timer, seeds, and everything else I mentioned in this is already purchased and awaiting setup. I'm probably about 4k into this at this point. There is no budget for new lights, or big ticket items, but I am willing to listen to ideas about what I have (like remove the lenses, or but lenses of known provenance, etc...).

I'm not sure I will start an actual journal on here, but I will be keeping notes for future grows. I will post some pics as things move along, but I am currently waiting for the last few items and the room to be fully vacated before I start.

Thanks for taking the time to read.
 
AndyBoi

AndyBoi

Hey man, seems like an awesome set up! I think you attention to detail and planning skills will lead you to success. The most difficult part of a grow in my opinion, is creating the environment (temperature and humidity). Things that I had to buy during my grow to achieve desired levels were 1 humidifier and 2 dehumidifiers. (Ideal humidity changes based on stage of growth). I am a new grower as well (currently about 3 weeks into flower on my first grow). I would think a couple more fans in your area would be a good move. You currently have 2 fans? I would think 4 is ideal for a 4x8 area. I wold also recommend playing around with some “topping” and “LST” if you have 8 plants in there. It’s really easy and fun. It will help you understand how to effectively time these techniques in the next grow (thats how I feel about my experience).

I would love to see a picture of your set up.

Much Love
AndyBoi
 
67goat

67goat

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Thanks. I'm hoping to be set up in the next couple of weeks so I can get the light testing done. I do plan to train plants later (I intend to SCROG when I go to photos), and I will defoliate the bottom of the plant when it is time, but I plan to hold off on topping and LST until I have at least one grow to make sure I have my nutes and other routines down. I feel like trying too many things out of the gate, for me personally, means I won't be sure if it was the training or if I screwed something else up. You can't force autos to just stay in veg until they get back to healthy.

So I will take a round or two to learn the basics of the basics. Then I will start worrying about yield.
 
AndyBoi

AndyBoi

Thanks. I'm hoping to be set up in the next couple of weeks so I can get the light testing done. I do plan to train plants later (I intend to SCROG when I go to photos), and I will defoliate the bottom of the plant when it is time, but I plan to hold off on topping and LST until I have at least one grow to make sure I have my nutes and other routines down. I feel like trying too many things out of the gate, for me personally, means I won't be sure if it was the training or if I screwed something else up. You can't force autos to just stay in veg until they get back to healthy.

So I will take a round or two to learn the basics of the basics. Then I will start worrying about yield.
Fair enough. Best of luck.
 
67goat

67goat

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3
I now have a 50L dehumidifier for the room and a humidifier for the tent that has a humidistat built in for specifying the level I need. My clay pebbles are in the process of soaking to get cleaned. I will still need to sterilize and PH adjust them. I also got some Armor Si, since I didn't have any silicate source.

I picked up a 70 gallon tote, a float valve, a 1/4" tie-in kit for supply (bathroom sink is on other side of the wall), a saddle kit to tie in to the drain, and a 9W UV filter. I will set the RO filter on the top of the tote with the float valve hanging from the underside of the lid. Initially, this will only be to pull water out of. I will put a 1/2" barbed outlet at the bottom with a RainBird 1/2" barbed shutoff valve attached to use for filling the mixing buckets. Eventually, this will be tied to another 5 gallon bucket with a float valve that will serve as the RDWC reservoir. Then I will only need to deal with water during res changes. The aquarium UV filter will be inside the 70 gallon tote.

I am still waiting for the room to get cleared out, but it is supposed to happen tomorrow. Then I will get a chance to set up the tent and start taking pictures to post. I have done some initial testing of the lights, though they were not in ideal conditions (only two walls, white paint instead of Mylar, etc...). However, I do think the results are enough to make some educated estimates. I tested the lights individually, but I also did a small test of a blurple and the COB in the positions I expect to use them.

For hanging height, I used a slightly different method than what I read. Rather than try to move the lights close enough that the center read about 1000, I moved the lights up and down until I found the point the edges had the best reading. Moving the lights higher or lower would lower the PPFD at the edges. Because I anticipate overlap of the lights, I was more concerned that the edges got the best light they could. This was measured for a 2'x2' area (as that is what each light will be responsible for).

For the COB lights, the hanging height is 15". That put the center at between 1010 and 1044 PPFD µmols for each of the 8 COB. The blurple lights were optimum at a 10" hanging height which put the center between 663 and 717 µmols. I did decide that the direction they would hang would be changed. Originally, I had the short side of the blurples facing the COBs, but at the hanging heights that worked out, it made more sense to rotate them 90 degrees. When tested together, this created a line 3' long and 1.5' wide where PPFD averages over 1000 µmols. I did not measure the T5s the same way. I just tested for height and was only concerned about the 6" along the edge of the 2'x2' area. The hanging height for the T5s will be around 4.5" (about 160 µmols directly under the strip). With those, the numbers should still come out to an average of 600-700 µmols for the rest of the area.

I tested using two different methods for calculating average PPFD. One method used 16 measurements and the other used 25 measurements. Using the 16 measurements, the average efficiency for all 12 of the lights (not counting the T5 strips) at 1.57 µmols/w at a cost of $.70/µmols. Using the 25 measurement method, it was 1.74 µmols/w and $.64/µmols. From my testing with the lights combined, I feel like I can hit or exceed that upper limit. Either way, they are still very efficient and fairly cheap. Not the most efficient, not the cheapest, but a pretty good combo of the two. Of course, lights just went on sale on Amazon, so I probably could have done better if I bought the lights today, but life is just like that. Plus, I think I like my spectrum a little more than the other lights that would be in this prices and performance range.

My light map has changed (and may change again once in the tent). Also, once everything is plugged in, I may end up dimming the COBs a little or removing some T5s. I am right at the continuous load rating for a 15 amp circuit, and I noticed that the T5s draw more together than the sum of their individual draws, but that may have been due to the way I had them plugged in during testing.

I have arranged the lights in four groups (I labeled them during testing), so that each group of 2 COBs + 1 blurple is as close to the others for average PPFD. The four groupings measure 1492.84, 1493.68, 1497.24, and 1501.88. Any other groupings and the difference between the top group and the bottom group is higher. That and the individual tests have helped me decide which light goes where in the tent.

light setup 2.png

I have re3moved the end T5s as the center will be taken care of by the blurple that has been turned 90 degrees. The T5s between the blurples will be 6" apart from each other (if they end up staying). My hanging height is lower than the average recommendation, but I am looking at the PPFD to tell me where to hang them.
 
67goat

67goat

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Yes, as soon as I am sure the room is cleared to set up the tent. Hopefully the seeds will get spouted this week. I am planning on using no intermediary medium. I will sprout them in the wet paper towel in a sandwich bag hanging down so the root will grow down. Once the tap root reaches the right length, I will use a pencil to create a hole in the clay pebbles and tap to settle the pebbles back into the hole. You keep the water level a couple inches above the bottom of the basket until the roots grow down far enough to run at the normal level below the basket. I forget where I read about that method, but after reading rockwool threads, I like the simplicity of this method.

Still have to isolate the circuit by testing the breakers, but that can happen this weekend after the room is cleaned. There are a few pieces still in shipment, but I am hoping to have everything by the time it is needed. However, none of them are required to start, just to make my life easier.

I am wondering if I should also add something like Hygrozyme to the mix. I will also need to set up something for drying soon as well. I have a little time, but would rather not be caught off guard.
 
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