Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grow Tent Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part Two)

This post is continued from Grow Tent Reviews Part One

Lighthouse grow tents

Not as expensive as Gorilla grow tents and by far less costly than Secret Jardin, Lighthouse offers solid light dense fabric. The edges are sturdy and can withstand teardowns and setups. Additionally, the structure can take some stress.

Heavy handed users might find Lighthouse Grow Tents a bit too tender for their style of grow. Reddit Microgrowery user OriginalPounderofAss writes, Mine has stitched edges and when I have spilled some water and checked it does stop splash etc but not a complete soak/ trying to fill up. You would be better off getting something more rigid and guaranteed watertight.”

Rating: Good

Secret Jardin grow tents

Pretty much everyone growing within the walls of these tents speak of Secret Jardin in almost hushed adulation. (It can get a little weird.) But there is no doubt that Secret Jardin is grow tent royalty.

The price is high, much higher than other brands out there. But they will last a good long while. Touring Funk Band posted on ICMagazine forum: Gotta second or third Secret Jardin here. If the 4x8's are as good as the 4x4 (DR120) you'll be a happy grower. Thick material, quality seams and zipper. I've been happy with it for over three years now.”

But not everyone is easily swayed. Rocketman420, the lone dissenter, said: “I wouldn't waste money on a Jardin, I cant count the light leaks on all three of mine, i got a 4x8 4x4 and 2x2.”. The Rocketman stood alone.

Rating: Good

Gorilla grow tents

If Secret Jardin is the royal family of indoor horticulture, then Gorilla grow tents are the badass mercenaries.  With 1680D dense nylon you don’t get much better light economy. Gorilla boasts that it has the thickest, most durable canvas available but it is the adaptability of the design that gets major praise from most growers.

On the forum Edgar 9 wrote, I have a Jardin and I like it but if I get another tent I'd get the Gorilla b/c they have so much more headroom. With the extensions, the 5x5 Gorilla can be 9 feet tall.”

The adjustable height cuts down on heating bills. When your plants are just starting out they don’t require much headroom which allows the grower to keep the ceiling low and limits the amount of space to heat. As the plants grow, the tent expands with relative ease.
The only ugly bit? Some growers, probably anxious and excited to get their hands on this primo tent, cut their thumbs when sliding the canvas over the skeleton. Ouch. Calm down. Wear gloves.

Rating: Good

Everything Else? Mostly ugly.

There are many, many brands of grow tents. The ones not mentioned  in this post (HydroHut, Grow Cube, Hydrobuilder, Virtual Sun, Milliard, Xen-Lux to name a few) are either ugly or haven’t received enough grower feedback to warrant a full review. Try these only if you are feeling experimental or if you are really into DIY projects.

See more grow tent brand reviews in Grow Tent Reviews: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Part One. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Grow Tent Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part One)

Grow Tent Reviews, Part 1

Though many grow tents come with extras that experienced growers enjoy for idiosyncratic reasons, there are a few basics every grower can agree on. Grow tents must have excellent light economy (no leakage), be durable, easy to set-up and tear-down, and have a skeleton that holds weight.

Which common grow tents are good, bad, or downright ugly? Read these grow tent reviews and choose your poison:

Agromax grow tent

When it comes to quality, many growers agree this tent has been bashed with the ugly stick. In a thread on ICMagazine’s forum, user eastbeast wrote, “I'd had the big agromax for about a year and a half. I had to take it down twice and it didn't survive long after the second takedown. Shoddy/cheap material and the vents and zippers were terrible. Threw it away a few months ago. It was probably about two years old.”

Although other growers have used Agromax for small grows or as supplemental growing space, if you have plans for future grows then you might want to avoid this brand.

Rating: Ugly

Geneva Barns (Aviditi) grow tent

New growers frequently choose this grow tent because it is cheap and easy to find online. Again, if you are first starting out and don’t mind using your first crop as a learning experience, then you might consider playing around with this one.

Justintime233 posted an excellent startup guide over on Reddit. He had this to say about Aviditi:  The ventilation holes are kinda in weird places which limits how you can set things up. It doesn't say but most Avitidi tents are 600D material the lighthouse hydro ones are 900D so thicker and stronger.”

Hush posted on ICmagazine’s forum: “The one I got is fine, it will work for my purposes, but the quality is totally subpar. I absolutely plan on eventually replacing it.”

Rating: Ugly

GrowLab - Homebox grow tent

There’s a lack of consensus among growers about Growlab - Homebox’s durability. Before purchasing one, weigh your lights, can fans, and other equipment so that you have an accurate measure of how much weight you’ll suspend from the frame. Otherwise, it can get ugly.

According to Hubcap (THC Farmer), “HTG homebox tents will work, but… imo, i feel, the frame is sub par, at best. i lost a few [plants] because the frame isnt strong enuff to hold a can 60 and it dropped onto my plants.”

DonJuanMatus (THC Farmer) agreed: i ran a homebox xl a while back and had to place the filter on the floor because the rods were bending just from my air cooled hood”
Despite the weak structure and several complaints about small ports and difficult to access entryways, others swear by the brand. Butler420 wrote on, “It's got to be Homebox and / or Growlab every day of the week for me. Build quality, materials, design. Hands down winners. ”

And knowing what you need definitely helps when it comes to choosing the best grow tent for you. Caress of Steel (THC Farmer) is happy with their Homebox, stating,The zippers on the HB's are tough as nails, and what gets more work than the zippers. Steel frame is tough enough for my Sun System 2 and 6 in Vortex.”

Rating: Ugly, if you don’t know what you need. Good, if you do.

LED brand grow tent

Growers who have gone this route reported some problems with peeling, non-water-tight floors. There are other deficiencies as well. Green2Green commented on Reddit, I have a 4x4x7ft LED grow tent I got from amazon for $99 but after 6 months of use the zippers are starting to come apart and I am looking at some more better quality tents. ...  I would recommend something other than the LED brand grow tents on Amazon simply because mine is starting to fall apart after a few months use.”

A Frankenstein grow tent cobbled together with gorilla tape is pretty ugly.

Rating: Ugly

Although there are many cheap and crappy grow tents out there that fall straight into the ugly category, there are a few out there that are good. 

Check out the second part of Grow Tent Reviews for more brands!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beginner Growers Infographic: Watering, Nutrients, and pH.

Beginner Growers Infographic by

The #1 mistake new growers make is overwatering their plants. Make sure to test the soil or growing medium before giving your plant more water. If it's still moist, don't water it! Overwatering can cause the plant roots to rot, and can also drain the nutrients from the soil.

Another mistake is giving nutrients at every watering. That's too much! You need to alternate the water and nutrient feedings. Don't start your plants off with a full blast of nutrients right away either. Ramp up the nutrient dosage slowly, to get your crops used to the intensity. 

Make sure you test pH regularly. Plants thrive in a certain pH range, and going out of range can cause some nutrients to be absorbed poorly. 

Use a pH meter to:
- Test your water, before adding nutrients
- Test your nutrient mix
- Test your run-off

Get yourself some pH up and down products to regulate your pH levels. These are available at every gardening or hydroponics supply store, in person or online.

And remember to test your pH twice per week. Being diligent about this will make sure you grow healthy plants that produce abundant harvest.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Grow Tents: The Magical Guide (Part Two)

...Continued from part one of Grow Tents: The Magical Guide

The Fabric, The Grow Light and The Deniers

No life without light. Lights inside a tent.
When picking a grow tent, one of the important features to look carefully at, is the high quality fabric shell, that won’t tear. You’ll know whether or not fabric is high quality by checking the denier rating on the manufacturer’s specs. What’s a denier? It’s a unit of measurement that lets you know the thickness of the fibers that make up the fabric. The higher the number, the thicker the fabric. Thicker fabric translates to a sturdy, light saving shell. Experts suggest choosing fabric within the 600D to 900D range.
Most, if not all, grow tents are equipped with a reflective interior. This is an important feature. Not only does the exterior side of the fabric keep light from leaking out of the grow tent, the light that remains inside is amplified and reflected back to the plants. This encourages low-leaf growth. Areas of your crop that might not otherwise receive overhead light now have a way to gain light.     

Flood Protection - Before the "Oops!" 

This doesn't need to be the case.
One of the benefits of grow rooms is how they partition off your grow area from the rest of your living space. This is especially helpful if you live in a small apartment or if you want your basement to appear tidy.

Pretty much all indoor grow tents have six sides: four walls, a ceiling and floor. If water or nutrient fluid spills the liquid falls onto the floor of the tent and not your personal floor. High quality grow tents offer a flood panel along with a floor. This panel is absorbent and provides a sturdy base for your grow tent.

Not always a standard feature, especially in some bare bones packages, be on the lookout for this option. It can save you some serious damage to your rental unit or your home.

Ventilation Ducts

A well-ventilated grow tent is key to healthy crops. Air flow encourages growth and discourages disease and pests. Grow tents feature ventilation ducts but when choosing a grow tent determine if the ducts are placed in areas that work for you. Also look for power cord outlets, not just ducts on the sides or upper levels.

To prevent light leakage, check for velcro fasteners, cinches or other ways to tighten the duct so that minimal light escapes.

The Nice Grow Tent Extras

One nice extra for this kind of set-up are observation windows. They allow you to maintain a hands-off approach without interrupting a carefully balanced ecosystem. You can still check in on your crop but you won’t disturb them. Observation windows are an added feature on most grow tents, just remember to zip or velcro the panel back into place to maintain a light seal.

One other extra that many growers look for in a grow tent are pockets. Some grow tents have pockets that allow you to store equipment and other items in the tent itself. This leads to less clutter outside the tent and is an easy way to remember where all your gear is located.

In some ways, grow tents are perfect for people who like yields but not gardening. Once you get the grow tent set up, the equipment situated and the plants growing all you have to do is automate the system. Lights come on and turn off. Hydroponic systems feed the plants at timed intervals. Ventilation systems cool and monitor air flow. 

Grow Tents: The Magical Guide (Part One)

           Think of a grow tent as a greenhouse inside your house, only better. Like a good greenhouse, a good indoor grow tent combines a strong structure with a sturdy interior. Grow tents also provide temperature and climate control. Although you will still need to watch out for bugs and disease, grow tents provide a clean and safe protective environment for your plants. 

Additionally, a good grow tent is better than a great greenhouse due to  its mobility and ease of set-up. Plus, you won’t have to trek through the snow to access your plants.

Whether you are seeking a standard 4x4 grow tent or looking into larger operations, continue reading below to find out what you need to know to get the best grow tent for your crops.

How to choose the right grow tent

Still, think about what you will attach to that frame. In addition to the grow tent’s shell, you’ll have to consider the weight of lights, feeding systems, fans or other pieces of equipment. The frame fails and it isn’t just your crop that gets damaged, but the light system and everything else.
Get a good idea of your equipment’s weight and then choose a tent that can support that weight. Manufacturers usually list their product’s maximum support weight in their specs.

Choose a sturdy, thick, rugged frame preferably from metal. Ensure the clips and fittings are snug. Check warranties.
Plastic frames crack and bend, maybe not at first, but eventually they will, especially if you take down and set up frequently. But, if you intend to stay in place and have only one or two plants then plastic frames might be a good way for you to go.

Then think about what you grow. How tall are your plants going to get? Some growers warn that height is a big issue. Consider that the higher plants get, the higher lighting needs to get and pretty soon you can run out of space. One way around this potentially hazardous scenario is to choose a sturdy metal frame that can be adjusted or amended to increase height when necessary.

How to use a grow tent safely and easily

No one wants smashed, maimed or bloodied fingers. Nobody wants to tear their tent apart while trying to get inside of it. Since the door will be your only way into the tent and your only way out, then you need to make sure that the zippers function properly.

If you are ordering your grow tent online, then you’ll want to check for zippers that are sturdy but won’t tear the fabric’s seams. Some grow tent manufacturers offer tents with adhesive tape that affixes zippers to the tent, while others provide heavy duty, large zippers sewn into the fabric. If you go with sewn in zippers, then make sure they are double-stitched to avoid tearing. If the fabric is high quality (see the next section for more information on this) then tearing the seam shouldn’t be an issue.

Check to see how many openings the grow tent has and whether or not these openings are adjustable. This goes not just for doors, but for vent and duct openings as well.