Why Grow Inside a Tent?
Grow tents have become a big hit these days amongst many indoor gardeners. But isn’t a spare room just a ‘tent’ made out of bricks or timber? What’s the big deal about making a ‘room within a room’? Heath talks to growers who love their grow tents and finds out why they’ve proved so popular.
Professional grow tents have been designed and refined by growers with one thing in mind: to make life easy! It’s a bit like the difference between a blank canvas and painting by numbers. Oh look – there’s the hole for air inflow. There’s the hole for extraction. That’s where I hang my carbon filter and extractor. My plugs and leads can be fed through that hole there. Bish bash bosh – all done. Happy days. Yes, you can make your own tent if you have the time and (unlike me) the skills – but I suspect even the master-carpenters among you would be pretty hard-pushed to match what’s commercially available these days at your local grow shop.
For those of you who are new to the concept of growing inside a tent, I asked some fellow ‘tent-lovers’ (if you’ll excuse the term) to come up with a few reasons why they think it makes such good sense. Here’s the top ten:
1) Quick and easy to put up.
We’re not all gifted in the DIY department. Buying a purpose-made grow tent means there’s no faffing about with wood, nails, and brackets trying to create your own – or realising at the last minute that you don’t have all the tools for the job. If you buy a grow tent, it can be assembled in a matter of minutes with no need for any tools. And it can often work out cheaper than buying all the materials yourself! It’s possible to create an indoor growing environment in well under an hour – once the grow tent is up, hang the lights, set up the extractor and fans and you’re more or less done!
2) Quick and easy to take down.
What goes up must come down – eventually! Whilst strong and sturdy when in use, most commercially available grow tents have been designed to be easy to disassemble so moving house isn’t any more stressful than it need be. Grow tents are highly portable.
3) No need to drill into any walls or ceiling.
As your grow tent provides you with the necessary framework from which to hang lights, extractors and ducting, there’s no need to use the walls or ceiling of your home for anchorage. This is particularly handy for conscientious growers living in rented accommodation.
4) Lightproof so no need to block out windows.
If you’re growing photosensitive plants then you need to protect them from light pollution. Most commonly this comes from the ‘real light’ of outdoors coming in through windows. Indoor growers have historically ensured that they control the length of their plants’ days and nights by blocking up windows with lightproof material. Not only does this look a bit unsightly to your neighbours, but the growroom also becomes harder to ventilate. Nowadays commercial grow tents are enclosed with lightproof material so the plants inside remain unaffected by any light outside or in the outer room.
5) Easier to control environment (temperature, humidity, pests) in a tent.
First of all, by creating an enclosure for your plants, it’s harder for pests to get to them. Many tents feature a fine screen on the inflow vents to prevent bugs from being sucked into your indoor growing environment. Also, it’s easier to raise humidity without all the associated potential mould problems – you put some water in a tray at the bottom of the tent and tone down on the extraction – any moisture that condenses just ends up back on the floor of the waterproof tent – instead of encouraging mould between your reflective sheeting and the cold walls of the room. As far as temperature is concerned, with good ventilation your tent is always going to be at least four degrees warmer than the outer room temperature, perhaps as little as two degrees if you are using air-cooled lights extracting directly to the outside world – but it’s the design of these grow tents that allows you to maximise the efficiency of your air transfer: Colder, fresh air enters at the bottom of the grow tent and perhaps a little bit through the zipper, and the hot air is extracted at the top of the grow tent (remember, hot air rises!) Your room acts as a sort of ‘buffer’ for your grow tent – and, in the winter, a grow tent in your bedroom can keep things nice and cosy!
6) Reflective walls are closer to plants.
Grow tents come with reflective inner surfaces, usually either silver or white. This means that the light inside your tent is contained in a small space, rather than being lost in a large room – this increases the overall intensity and efficiency of your lights, which will increase growth rates and yields.
7) You can have a tent in your bedroom and still use it as a bedroom!
When you’re taking a young lady on a tour of your abode and you enter the bedroom, a grow tent in the corner of the room adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “this is where the magic happens”. Devoting an entire room to your hobby just isn’t practical or possible for everyone – so a grow tent is a great solution for many home hobbyists who value their living space as highly as their home-produced fruit, herbs and veg.
8) There’s a grow tent for every occasion!
Grow tents make it easy to modularise your garden. What does this mean? Well, it’s possible to have one tent for flowering your plants (on a 12/12 light cycle), one tent for keeping mother plants (on an 18/6 light cycle), another for propagating cuttings, and another for early vegetative development – all in the same room if you wish! This is only possible because a good quality, professional grow-tent is lightproof, so the light-cycle from one tent does not affect the tent adjacent to it. What does all this add up to? My favourite two words in the whole English language, that’s what – PERPETUAL HARVEST! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Year-round flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The mind boggles.
9) Easy to clean.
And you know what they say, cleanliness is next to godliness.
10) Compatible with all growing methods.
Grow tents have been designed to be compatible with all different growing methods, flood and drain, NFT, you name it.
Heath adds: best grow tent?
There are grow tents and there are grow tents. Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest. What is the grow tent made out of? Take a look at the quality of the stitching and zips, for example, as well as the lining. A grow tent needs to be durable. Most importantly, if you need your grow tent to be light-proof, make sure that it really is! (One way of checking this is to physically get inside a tent (with any grow lights inside the tent switched off!) and get a friend to zip it up – hopefully you should be in complete darkness. (And of course you have the added fun of your friend shouting “BRING OUT THE GIMP!” when you’re done.) Another way of testing whether a tent is light proof is to put it in a dark room, set up a powerful grow-light inside and switch it on. Zip the tent back up and you should be able to clearly see whether or not the material is truly light proof. After all, if light is escaping this could be a problem – especially if the tent is in your bedroom. Check for light baffles on all zips and doors, as this stops any light seepage to the outside.