Shelf Growing 101 - Cheap and Effective

Talk about grow room setup/design and equipment

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Shelf Growing 101 - Cheap and Effective

Post by Halibu_Hoodrat » Sun Mar 25, 2007 10:23 pm

Shelf Growing 101
The beginner’s guide to growing pot cheaply and effectively


Shelf growing with fluorescent lights is becoming more and more popular, mainly because the materials are so cheap and easy to obtain. This method assumes that you will keep your plants 3 feet or shorter at maturity, so the shelves are spaced 3-4 feet apart. You can use only one growing area from start to finish, but it’s more effective to use two, one for vegetative starts, and one for heavy vegetative growth and flowering. This way you can be constantly making harvests, moving the vegetative starts to the larger chamber after a harvest, and starting new sprouts. One drawback to shelf growing is that you will be constantly adjusting lights, making it hard to go away from your house for even a week. You can use fluorescent lights from start to finish, or you can start seedlings and cuttings under fluorescents, and switch over to HPS for heavy vegetative growth and flowering.

Setting up your grow room

Grow Space:

You will need at least one shelf, but preferably two. They should be at least 18” x 18”, and at least 3 feet high. You can use some kind of hanging sheet to lightproof the opening. You will also need an opening of some sort to vent the hot, stale air out, and replace it with cool, fresh air. You will need to cover the walls with either tin foil, or aluminized Mylar. If you use tin foil, make sure you turn the dull side out, as it will diffuse the lights better, and prevent the wrinkles from concentrating the light in certain areas, which can burn your plants. If you prefer, you can just paint the walls a very bright white. Paint the shelf itself white too.


- Fluorescent Lights
The number depends on how many plants you intend to grow. You may wish to use the long, linear, shop light style, and they are generally better. However, if you are only going to grow a few plants, you may want to consider compact bulbs. Home Hardware sells a bulb built by Home Electric that puts out 1100 lumens, and takes up only 25W. If you go with the compact style, you will want one of these for every plant.
- Containers
A rule of thumb is to have at least one gallon of soil for every foot of growth. You need to take this into consideration when buying the pots you’re going to use. You will also benefit from picking up some peat cubes, which are built from a biodegradable material that roots easily grow through, making transplanting easier on both you and the plants.
- Grow Medium
This is one area you can’t cheap out on. You need to buy some high quality “potting” soil, as well a bag of vermiculite. If you can’t get vermiculite for whatever reason, you can use sand. You’ll want to make a mix of 4 parts soil and 1 part sand or vermiculite. This is to aid with the drainage ability of your medium. It will also make it easier for oxygen to reach the roots.
- Reflective Material – Tin Foil/Mylar/White Paint
- 1 or 2 fans
For a small space, you will most likely need just one fan. You can get a computer fan from an electronics liquidator for around 5 bucks. You will need to find or buy yourself an adapter than meets the wattage specified on the fan. What I did was cut the end off of the adapter’s cord, strip the two wires, and attach them to the wires on the fan. Make sure you tape it fully with electrical tape, so the wires aren’t going to touch together and short out. It’s fairly simple, but if you really don’t know what you’re doing, I’d suggest you get someone who does to help you. Attach the fan inside the grow room in front of the hole you made for ventilation, or on the wall at the same level as your plants.
- Thermometer, and perhaps a PH testing kit.
You’ll need at least one thermometer, two if you have two growing areas. The temperature of the growing area is crucial for creating the optimum environment for your plants. The optimum temperature is between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A PH testing kit is not required, but it’s a good idea to get one. The optimum level is from 5.8 to 6.5.
- 1 or 2 extension cords, depending on how many outlets you need.

Getting Started

When you have everything set up, it’s time to start growing your own herb. There’s several different methods to germinating seeds, but I prefer the paper towel method, as it only takes a day or two, and I never have any seeds fail to germinate. Take a cereal bowl, one paper towel, and a black piece of paper, or something equivalent to keep the light out. Fold the paper towel twice in half, and put it in the bowl, touching the bottom. Pour some warm water in the bottom of the bowl, and dab the rest of the paper towel in the water to get all of it wet. Place the edges of the paper towel up against the sides of the bowl, and grab however many seeds you want to plant. Put the seeds in between the paper towel (up on the sides of the bowl, not right in the water) and cover the bowl with something lightproof. You should now leave it somewhere warm, like on top of a water heater, or a wood stove. If you can’t find good place, or your parents aren’t pot-friendly, you can put it under an incandescent light bulb. Just make sure the light isn’t getting through, or the process will be slowed down considerably. Check it at least every 12 hours, and make sure the paper towel doesn’t dry out, or your seeds will be spoiled. Once the root tip has sprouted to 1/16”, it’s ready to plant.


You should have your medium mixed up, and watered thoroughly before you plant the seed. You can use a weak mix of nutrient solution, with a high potassium level (the middle number in N-P-K). Mix it up at ¼ of the usual strength. Poke your index finger into the soil up to your first knuckle. Grab the seed with tweezers if you have them, or very carefully with a pair of clean scissors. Plant the seed with the root tip up if possible, as this will make your plant stronger. Brush some soil over the seed lightly, and put it under full light. The seedling should be sprouted in a day or two.

After this, things are pretty straightforward. You can refer to some other grow guides at for the rest of the process. If anyone knows anything I left out, please tell me. Post here, message me, whatever. Any constructive criticism is gladly accepted. I can't make this guide any better without your feedback.
When all is one and one is all, to be a rock and not to roll.

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Post by weedguru+chrisisonfire » Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:31 pm

awesome post man!


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