A question I've seen a lot over the years on forums is "what do I need to be self sufficient?" This is after all why we are here. It's a very tough question to answer, many variables come into play. How much does the average person smoke, are they making concentrates or medicines from their plants, how long is a piece of string. As it gets asked a lot I thought I'd do a write up on what I believe to be the perfect set up to cover just about anyone as a self sufficient grower. Not everyone will have room for the set up I'm about to talk about but the space per plant as well as this is relative for smaller set ups as well.
All of this is from my experiences, and watching many growers over many years.
Time to grow full cycle
The one thing I see from a lot new growers is a misunderstanding on how long it will take to go from seed to harvest. You are looking at around 4 months or 16 weeks. I'm yet to see a strain that's truly ready in under 10 weeks of flower. You then have germination, veg, drying etc. to deal with too. 16 weeks is a good number for a full cycle. You can of course reduce this by having separate veg areas, drying areas but most of us struggle for space.
How much room do I need per cannabis plant?
This is another mistake I see from new growers a lot. People trying to cram more plants than they should in small areas, a happy plant is a healthy plant, they like room, good airflow and you want to be able to train your plants to make the most of your area. A good number for a plant is 60 x 60cm or 2ft x 2ft. This again is relative to what you are using. In a full hydro set up fewer plants are needed for a space given the speed of growth but for soil and coco 60 x 60cm is a good space to grow some very nice plants.
How much light do I need for my plants?
Here is the trickiest question of them all and I'll do a write up on this as it deserves one. For now I'll go into the basics of what's needed. I'll base this on a 60 x 60cm space as that's what I'm recommending per plant in coco and soil. LED has come a very long way in recent years to the point it is easily comparing LED to HID lighting in final weight and reports of better quality weed are also everywhere. High end LED lights are expensive though and many new growers will start out with HID, you see the minefield I'm trying to tread here lol.
From my experience:
100w of light per 60cm x 60cm area for veg is a good number to aim for.
150w of light per 60cm x 60cm area for flower is a good number to aim for.
The above is watts drawn from the wall, not the name or selling point of many LED's for instance. Many LED lights are stated at being 2000w but will run at a quarter of this as an example. HID lights will run at stated wattage.
So based on the above:
A 60 x 60cm tent could have a 100w light for veg and a 150w light for flower.
A 1.2 x 1.2m grow tent could have 400w light for veg and a 600w light for flower.
Seedlings and clones are different and require much less light.
How much cannabis will I harvest?
The age old question... First off do not take what you read on a breeders packet as a guide, these are numbers based on expert growers using top end kit or breeders will overstate what you can expect, it's a selling point after all.
This question has so many variables it's almost something I don't want to go into lol. So I'll base some numbers on what I have experienced and seen growers achieve over my years on these forums. I'm going to base this on soil and coco grows, not hydro. A hydro set up is very different for many reasons.
There are many "ifs" and "buts" when it comes to what you will harvest. If you do your research and pay attention to your plants using the right kit for the job:
Soil 3-4oz per plant is a good number to aim for.
Coco 4-6oz per plant is easily doable.
The above numbers are based on the light wattage I've recommended above. No cannabis is guaranteed at the end of the grow, there are many issues you can run into, I still after all these years growing mess a grow up. Some growers will far exceed the above numbers, I'm going on a average of what I have seen and grown.
Research research research and use the right kit cannot be overstated when growing, these 2 things will make the above much easier.
What kit do I recommend for a self sufficient personal grower?
Now time for me to shoot myself in the foot if I haven't already done so in this topic...
Based on 16 weeks, which equates to 3 harvests a year, I'd recommend a 1.2 x 1.2m grow tent. With my 60 x 60cm rule for space for plants that's 4 plants. 400w grow light for veg, 600w for light. I'll get onto air circulation in a minute. Based on all of the above you can expect an average of 12 ounce in soil and 16 ounce in coco. I cant see many smoking that much but if you do or make medicines/extracts so need more all of the above rules I've set out can be up scaled to bigger tents.
A good starter kit would be:
1.2 x 1.2m grow tent.
400w light for veg, or equivalent LED
600w light for flower, or equivalent LED
6 inch high power RVK fan for extraction
Carbon filter to match the air flow of your extraction fan
5-6 inch RVK fan for intake (must be less power than your intake fan).
Ducting to connect your air system up.
Clip on or oscillating fans for air movement inside your tent.
This is a very basic list covering the main components of a grow. There are many more items needed depending on if you want to grow in soil, coco etc. I'm only covering the main kit as a good average to show you what you can achieve. As your experience grows you will do better, you will have bad grows to, it's all part of the fun.
What actual kit do I recommend
First off do not buy the kits you find on ebay, they use cheap fans and filters and the other kit is not up to scratch either. Buy cheap buy twice, but that doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money either.
As far as tents go I'm yet to see anything that comes close to Green-Qube, built to last and full of features, I'll never buy any other brand.
Depending on what you want to use, HID or LED I'll list a couple of options.
HID - A digital dimmable ballast is a great tool as it allows you to switch between 250w, 400w, and 600w. 250w is perfect for starting seedlings or clones, 400w for veg, 600w for flower. There are different bulbs you can use also. Metal Halide some like to use for veg, HPS some like to use for flower, Dual spec some like to use full cycle or combinations of them all. The one bit of advice I give with this is to use the correct wattage bulb for each setting. A 600w bulb will dim to 250w but these lights achieve the spectrum they are designed for by reaching certain temperatures so use the correct bulb for each setting. Lumii Black digital ballast have not let me down. Sunmaster bulbs are tried and tested over many years.
LED - This isn't my strong point but Invisible Sun LED grow lights are proving equivalent to HID lights like the above. These lights can also be dimmed so are perfect for different stages of growth.
Ive used a few fans over the years. Systemair are by far the most reliable fans I've used, I've got some I've had for 5 years +. They are not as noisy as other makes. You can get much quieter fans if this is something you need but the cost goes up.
Rhino Pro are about as well known as filters go but over recent years they have had issues, a few growers here have had them fail much sooner than they should. Viper filters are what many are now using including myself.
That sums up the main kit and my recommendations on them.
Growing is easy and hard. The best growers in the world hit issues from time to time. It's best to research every aspect of a grow, medium/system, strains, the kit you will be using etc. Nothing is certain which has made this write up difficult. That being said with the right knowledge and dedication you can achieve the above. Keep it simple and keep it fun and the rest comes together nicely.