I often try new things in my grow areas in my attempt to improve how I grow plants. If you are starting a new area or maybe thinking of a change to try to improve your growing this and the next couple posts are good posts for you to read. As always, please feel free to post any helpful comments.

Almost any area can be converted into a grow space with a light from HTGSUpply.com, from a shelf (link) to a closet, to an extra room.  I have worked in a few greenhouses that supplement natural light with artificial light. For most growers the ideal area will be over 6 feet high and about 7x7 feet which is about 50 square feet. Square footage is figured by multiplying the length of the floor by the width. Fifty square feet is around the maximum area I would recommend a 1000 W HID to cover efficiently. With certain reflectors you will be able to use a 600 W for about 30 square feet. Smaller spaces can use 400 W HID, LED’s or fluorescents. (See me growing using an LED)  Usually gardens become more efficient the larger they are. What I mean by efficient is you can grow more plants and get higher yield per square foot the larger the area and the more lights you use. However, as your area increases in size moisture build up, electricity use and heat are going to be problems and will eventual limit your growth.

Things to think about before you start. -- A real limiting factor is whether there is electricity in the area. When I was in college and just started growing indoors I found an apartment that had a plug in the back of the bedroom closet, when I saw that plug I knew I’d found my new home. You need to know what wattage light you are going to use and where you will plug it in at (This depends on the size of the room and/or the size and number of plants you want to grow). Not every closet has an outlet and extension cords are not usually recommended for long term use. If in doubt contact an electrician about putting in an outlet. Thinking about electricity leads to the second thing you must consider before you start: water. Water is going to spill so put down a tarp. You can also use thick plastic to keep water off the floor. Make sure you tape the plastic up on the wall or floorboard molding so that water does not seep under it on the edges. If you are not careful with water you can have mold growth which can cause damage to your home (and possibly you) as it leaks through the floor boards to come out on the story below. I can tell you from personal experience that it only takes a small amount of water (less than 1 gal) to leak through the floor to the next story. Be careful and plan for water before you start.

I am sure you are aware that water and electricity don’t mix. Make sure all wires and electrical equipment are up off the floor or even better stored above the light because, yes I’ll say it again, no matter what you think you will spill water.

If you are using a basement, keep in mind moisture and humidity tends to be higher here and may have to be reduced to keep mold in check.  Also, concrete and other floors in basements and garages tend to be quite cold. You should cover these with insulating material like Styrofoam. I know you can buy 4x8 sheets of Styrofoam like insulation for walls at most any hardware store. You don’t NEED to buy anything; you can use wood planks or wood pallets or anything that keeps the containers the plants are in off the floor. The soil temperature should not drop below 50F and would be better in the upper 60’s.
Good Growing,
Dr. E.R. Myers

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