First (sorta) grow -- White Widow Auto

This is technically my second grow. The first was about 8 years ago when I planted several seeds from a bag of trashy weed I had bought, on a whim. The plants got to be about 4 feet tall when my ex got wind of my grow and I ended up having to destroy them [le sigh].

My seeds arrived last week and they popped two days ago. Right now I have them in small cups (having missed the fact last week that autos don’t like to be transplanted, but what can you do?)

They I have a 75 watt grow light on them and they are currently covered with aluminum foil. I’m one of those mad scientist electronic types, so I am using my Variac to control the voltage (and thus brightness) of the lamp to keep everything around 70 degrees.

I design and build electronics and write software for a living, so everything in my grow system will be automated using Arduinos, ESP8266’s, and/or Raspberry Pi’s.

My main grow light arrived yesterday. It’s a 1500 watt LED, and holy crap is it bright and hot!

We have giant goldfish, and currently the seed cups are sitting on top of the main tank, which is heated to 70 degrees. I have not yet decided on doing an aquaponic setup for this first grow or not, but will probably start off with keeping it simple and doing straight up soil for this first batch.

The grow room will be an unused coat closet hidden in this big, old house. It’s the perfect location and size, and very isolated. I have a little bit of time before I need to really get it together, so I’m going to do it right.

I decided to grow because my husband is partially permanently disabled and deals with a LOT of pain from an accident a few years ago. Medical weed is legal here but not recreational just yet. Workers comp paid for his weed card and they stopped prescribing opioids, but are fighting paying for the goods themselves. So every month we spend between $500 and $600 between the dispensary and buying bud from a friend. I’m hoping to just grow enough to cut that down to the cost of growing between an ounce and a half and two ounces a month, which should keep us going nicely.

I’m sure I’m gonna screw up a bunch of stuff and probably already have. I’m great at killing plants.

Here’s a boring pic of my seed cups.


Welcome to the forum! You are at the most helpful, friendly bunch of stoners you’re going to find on the 'net.

So; a couple of things first off: I would advise placing red cups over the clear as the roots do NOT like light. The soil looks to be quite wet so really suggest letting them dry out. You want to water very little: like a teaspoon or so and keep a dome over the top. The new seedlings have no tap root and extract all of their moisture initially from the air. Misting the inside of the dome a couple of times a day will help greatly. This is what most of us do.

Soil: I would advise staying away from any product that has added fertilizer like Miracle Grow. If the package says: “needs no food for 4 months” or “moisture control” it’s not a great choice. The reason is the fertilizers used can be tasted in the finished flower, producing a harsh taste. Fox Farms is popular and Scott’s along with others have good organic lines with bat guano and worm castings etc.

PH: you really want to control the PH of your water going in. This includes any nutrients or supplements you may wish to use. A digital PH meter is the surest way to measure accurately. Soil probes are worthless, drops and strips are not as accurate as you’d like and inconvenient as well.

Here’s a good one that can be calibrated. I use this one and others have as well and like it.

Lighting is critical and is the least understood part of indoor growing. Beware of the Amazon “blurple” lights as there are many many much better lights out there that are less expensive to operate and do a better job. They will fit right in to your being tech savvy. Here’s the thread you want for lighting:

Finally; you can tag anyone in using the @sign like this: @raustin, @OldSkunk


Awesome, and welcome to the group!

First things first, I would definitely return the grow light you bought. You can make one and not even need the variac. The light you build will likely kick the snot out of the one you bought.

As for everything else, looks like @Myfriendis410 has you in great shape.


Hi! Thank you for your response. Do you think I need the red cups? You can’t tell from the photo but the light is dimmed way down to almost the level of a 4 watt night light. Mostly what is coming off of it is heat; Enough to keep the soil at about 70 degrees F when measuring with a digital thermometer. Also, do you mean like a red solo cup?

The soil is leftover stuff from when I grew kitchen herbs a few years ago. I have no clue what it is. I bought the starter kit from ILGM which is supposed to include fertilizer and nutrients, although that package has yet to arrive.

I have a digital PH and PPM meter coming that is very similar to that one. Should be here tomorrow.

This is the grow light I purchased. I plan on building the water system and light control system myself. I will check out the thread you posted. I’ve spent a bit of time reading the tutorials and articles this site, but only yesterday found the forum.

Here’s the light I currently have on the plants. It’s an incandescent blue grow light that spits out a lot of UV and it’s turned down to about 15 watts, currently.

My Variac for controlling the light:

Thanks again! It’s entertaining reading other people’s journals. Gives me hope that I might be successful at this.


If you listen to these two guys you can’t go wrong. They will steer you in the right direction to a successful harvest.


The modern led drivers come with a 3 in 1 dimming function if you want. Meanwell hlg series is the most popular, and will control output current of driver via pwm, 0-10v, or resistance dimming from something as simple as a potentiometer. So there’s no need for something like a variac. On top of that, you can source leds that are twice as efficient as what’s in your bestva light.

Look around some, plenty of grows here using self built lights.


I wasn’t going to use the Variac for anything but getting the seedlings to pop. I know most people use CFL’s, but I started out with a CFL and it wasn’t quite warm enough so I switched to that incandescent with the Variac.

I’m getting everything together slowly. I have a bunch of IRF530’s and similar MOSFETs sitting around that might do well as drivers.

I supplement a lot of our power with solar and wind, so the cost to run isn’t so bad. I don’t want to do HID, but if I’m burning up 100 extra watts on inefficient LEDs, that isn’t a huge deal. If the light(s) I have will at least do the job for this first grow, I will probs keep them and then roll my own when I have more time. I definitely, with the holiday season, did not even think about building my own lights for this right now.

Is the light I bought any good at all for growing? I should just read the thread. I’m back at the computer for a few while waiting for people to come eat dinner. Will return in a bit.

Thanks for the advice! Back later.


I’ll quickly add that I decided to do this and threw things together kinda quickly, because after the last trip to the dispensary and then getting a letter last week that Comp is is fighting paying, I needed to do something right quick.


That thread would suck to read all the way through lol, but maybe as a side project or something. The light you ordered will grow weed.


Sorta grow weed That is. I remember having this same kind of conversation with you when I started. I had read everything for months and put up with 2 other nasty forums before staying here only. All I can say about it is the only way to grow good pain meds is to have the best possible equipment you can afford and listen to the experts advice on how to grow meds correctly. I wish I had listened to what I was being advised to do and I probably would have saved about 2 grand. I was using an oz every 8 days. When I joined the paid side they taught me how to make pain meds in capsules and that is way better for pain than smoking weed @FiveKatz



I agree on listening to this bunch. If you spend a bit of time reading some of the better growers (that means more experienced lol) you’ll see a pattern. The growing media they choose matters less than their experience. So read all you can and ask any questions you think of. There’s not much this place can’t find an answer to if problems come up. Good luck and I’ll be watching as you go.


All these pros got your back. You already succeeded. Good job you! Weed dont really happen right quick thou. Each round last 4 to 5 months. I’m here to watch. Lot of cool people here. Most of them has or is growing wwa.


You will fit right in if you like to tinker. Most of this is actually doing it and having that light bulb go off in your head when it all makes sense. You are with people who all started the same journey.

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Hi and welcome, I’d strongly recommend anyone download and read “ The Weed Bible” it’s free and has a ton of stuff that can help you along the way.
I’m sure you’ll get excellent advice from the members here also,
I’m not sure if where you are they use chlorine in the city/ town water, if so, I’d strongly recommend filling a bucket and letting it sit for at least 24 hours so the chlorine dissolves, check your ph every time, stick to the recommmended dose for nutes and basically pay attention to the simple stuff, best of luck

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Welcome… great forum with lots of knowledgeable growers. Keep an eye on your ph/ppm levels of water going in and your runoff, to me is one of the most important advice. I’m sure you will have a great grow and harvest. HAPPY GROWING

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Hi! I’m sorry I haven’t been around to update. It’s the holidays and kids are home from college and I’ve been super busy. So here’s my update thus far:

I literally fried my first five seeds. Yup. Rookie mistake. The popped, but then I killed them. My light had heated the soil to over 95 degrees and I didn’t realize it. I adjusted the lighting and waited days for growth and nothing happened. So, I decided to give it another go, this time with just two seeds.

I started them out on a wet paper towel under a small cup. They popped in a day. I also changed out the hot light back to a CFL and monitored the temperature very carefully. It turns out that depending on the day and how cold it is outside, the room they are presently in can vary 10 degrees in temperature. If it’s colder, the furnace runs more often and that room (the office) gets much hotter. I also have a lot of servers, soldering stations and 3D printing equipment in there, so if all that stuff is turned on, the room heats up a LOT.

So I solved that problem and now I’m back to a steady 71 degrees.

Here are my two new seeds. I just took these pics today. They’re growing literally like weeds (ha ha!), although the one is much taller than the other so far. I now have them each in a Chinese food soup container with another container upside down to keep the moisture in like a greenhouse. When the time is right I will move everything to the grow room and set up the new lighting.

Enjoy the pics. I may actually be doing something right for a change. And yes, I do have the Grow Bible and am reading through it and adapting as I can.


Oh, one more thing… My tap water here has a pH of exactly 8.0 and 88ppm.

Also, I purchased my seeds from ILGM along with the nutrients/fertilizers in a starter kit. The seeds arrived quite a while ago in a small package but the nutrients have yet to arrive. I reached out to ILGM about it but have yet to receive a response. Any idea how long it takes to receive the nutrient kit? I’m starting to get anxious.