Seasonal Changes and Grow Room Preparation
For a vast majority of indoor growers, the changing of the seasons signifies the time for infrastructural alterations to grow room design. Most notably, as the fall weather slowly morphs into wintertime cold, indoor gardeners need to make adjustments with their cultivation technology. Namely, this process means slimming down on their cooling equipment and bulk up on heating methods. As most growers know, this grow room preparation means an added work-load to an already demanding cultivation and harvest schedule.
It is crucial for indoor growers to use foresight and schedule these equipment overhauls in between harvest intervals. Along this line of thought, the months of September, October, and November (depending on one’s geography) provide a pretty long window in which to anticipate and plan this extra work in the grow room. This notion is exemplified by the fact that these fall months afford a slow a slow progression of cooling temperatures from summer balminess to wintertime chill.
In order to ensure smooth seasonal transitions within grow rooms, some simple planning will ensure that projects are executed efficiently. For starters, take a thorough inventory of your summer-time set-up in relations to what you will need to maintain a healthy growing environment for the wintertime. After that, make a list of equipment and items that must be procured for a cold-season horticulture operation. With these proactive measures, a seasonal remodel will be as easy and proficient as possible—ensuring that there will not be time lost in one’s standard grow cycles. Ideally, allowing one to flower their plants as per usual. This notion applies to cannabis and other photoperiodic plant species. Hence, for those savvy gardeners anticipating the changing of the seasons, here are some wintertime grow room preparations:
Grow Room Preparation and A/C Units
Fortunately, most indoor gardening enthusiasts find it far easier and cheaper to keep their rooms at an ideal temperature during the winter months than it is in the summertime. Because, almost all grow rooms require some sort of air conditioning to maintain a healthy growth equilibrium during the summer heat. Conversely, during the wintertime growers can simply turn off their air conditioning to attain a proper ambient temp, or bring in cool air with a simple intake fan system. If one chooses to disconnect their AC for the winter, they are well advised to store their compressors within an enclosed space such as a garage. This notion is exemplified in frigid environs seen in the Midwest as well as East Coast.
Many indoor cultivators have adopted the sealed grow room methodology of indoor gardening. This method generally requires the use of an AC unit year round. The use of an industrial or mini-split AC unit during the winter months requires some “winterization” techniques. Because, these AC systems aren’t designed to operate in temperatures under 50 degrees F. With this notion in mind, it is possible to install a low-ambient kit which will slow the fan speed in the unit’s compressor, keeping it from freezing in cold temperatures.
Grow Room Preparation and Insulation
Where one’s grow room is situated will greatly influence one’s wintertime preparation in relations to insulation. To illustrate, if an indoor garden is set-up within a bedroom there really aren’t many considerations to make for adding insulation. Because, the original construction of the home is already well-insulated. However, if a grow room is situated within a garage or poorly insulated out-building, one will definitely need to make plans concerning insulation for the wintertime. This notion is especially poignant in frigid climates like the Midwest or East Coast of the United States.
For those garage and out-building growers, it’s generally a good idea to design a room-within-a-room grow set-up. Meaning, one can attain far better environmental controls if they pre-build a room specifically for indoor gardening. Because, this lessens the square footage that needs to be heated. This notion is important because, ambient temperatures of both garages and out-buildings in cold areas of the U.S. generally match those of the outdoors. As a result, these pre-fabricated grow rooms should be designed with insulation in mind, as it can be the difference between success and failure during the cold, dark winter.
Reservoirs, Irrigation, and Water Sources
Many indoor growers opt to fill their hydroponics reservoirs with hoses that are sourced from the exterior of a home or building. However, this approach can pose problems in frigid winter temperatures. Utilizing an outdoor hose as an irrigation source for an indoor garden during the winter can pose problems for a couple of reasons. To begin with, outdoor hoses and connections easily freeze in temperatures below 32 degrees F. Secondly, watering plants with extremely cold water can easily shock the root systems. This process inhibits both nutrient uptake and overall plant growth.
To remedy these wintertime obstructions, the resourceful grower has a couple of options with grow room preparation. For starters, most hardware stores sell electrically heated insulation sleeves for outdoor hoses. These relatively cheap additions to one’s irrigation system will save outdoor hoses from freezing. Next, in order solve issues with cold water irrigation, it is a good idea to keep reservoirs within the warm confines of the actual grow room. Along this line of thought, pre-filling a reservoir at least 12 hours before watering one’s garden will allow the water to heat up, absolving any concerns with cold water irrigation.
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 edition of Maximum Yield Magazine.