New here, looking for advice

Hey guys, I did some indoor growing back in the late 90’s. Back then I had 2 100 or 150 watt lights, one mercury one sodium, supplemented with flourescent shop lights with grow tubes. In a separate closet I had a shop light on 24/7 about a foot above my clones. The seeds came from getting “Lucky” in bags of good weed, I had buddies who helped me with that. I ended up with tons of small plants that flowered nicely, and a couple 7 foot plants that were up to the ceiling in our garden apartment, but the weed was kind of airy and wasn’t up to par with the parent bags and I’m sure it’s because of the lighting as well as not having a nice forum like this to teach you about how to judge when to harvest based on the cloudiness of the trichromes (What? wish I knew that back then). So, I gave up on growing in favor of the professionals a long time ago.

But these days weed is legal, and insanely expensive - $85 for an eighth after tax. I suffered a spine injury in May (I’m doing much better now), and qualified for a medical card to reduce the taxes, but I’m also now able to grow up to 4 plants legally. I saw the LED “Grow lights” being sold at Home Depot months ago, and assumed if the big box stores were even selling them, LED’s must have come a long way in replacing sodium and mercury lamps. So I went on Amazon and found the best deal I could on lights similar to what I saw at Home Depot with much more “Wattage”. I ended up buying 4 lights from a company called “Bloomspect”. 3 “1200 Watt” with reflectors, and 1 “1000 Watt” that doesn’t have reflectors.

I found this site on accident in Aug and bought some seeds after getting an email from a new dispensary I tried that advertised this place, and didn’t find the forum until some time after. What I now know I actually have is 4 Burple lamps, 3 are 265 Watt and 1 is 180 Watt. I’m growing in a large closet, the room is probably 8 x 16 ft and the grow area I set up is about 6 x 3, right now there are only 2 plants, mainly because I’m having a hell of a time getting the seeds to work out. I’ve tried everything, and now I’m using Bobbydigital’s recipe with 50-1 water to peroxide (3/4 cup water, 2 tspn peroxide) on 2 Bruce banner seeds - they cracked overnight after 36 hours, but I’m going to wait for the tails to get a little longer - I put a cracked BB seed in dirt 10 days ago, and it never came up, so I’ll wait for 3/4 inch tail like Bobby. I got all autoflower seeds before I found out they can’t be cloned, I’m still itching to clone them mainly because people say not to do it, but I really don’t want to mess either of the first 2 that are currently close to flowering. Those are Zkittles and Gorilla Glue autoflowers. The Zkittles is doing great, the Gorilla Glue is stunted and about 1/3 the size of the other - they were started together and treated exactly the same so weird.

So for starters I’m looking for advice on lighting, I still have one of the 1200 watt bloomspect lights unopened that I think I can still return, it was $90 after tax with the discount code, so pretty cheap and maybe I will keep for now. I have 975 watts for an 18 sq ft grow area, so just over 50 Watts/sq ft. So what I have should work for my small indoor garden, but since I’m legal and doing this on the up and up I may as well do it as well as I can. I’ll have the set-up indefinitely, so a little extra front end investment is very worth it for me.

As it stands I have spent more on seeds than lights, and that seems a little backwards, but I spazzed on the seeds - i have Bruce Banner, Gorilla Glue, and ZKittles with White Widow on the way. All Autoflower, but I have a feeling I’m going to outgrow autoflowers. So, I’m going to need some time to work through my inventory of seeds, but I’m also open to recommendations on seeds as well.

For the rest of my set-up, I’m using 2 gallon pots currently, but bought 5 gallon bag/pots for going forward. I don’t think it’s worth the transplant shock to move the 2 plants that are close to flowering, but I think the 5 gallon pots will give me better outcomes. I’m using a mix of organic garden soil and organic mulch garden soil I am mixing in close to 20% perlite, and a couple tablespoons of “Garden Tone”. I am going out to buy peat today to add to the mix, but don’t know how much to put in. The first 2 plants didn’t get this proposed mix, I was going off 20 year old memory and bought vermiculite instead of perlite and didn’t put enough in anyway. I’m using chemical fertilizer.

Thanks for reading my manifesto.


I would recommend anything from HLG, especially if you’re looking for something that works out of a box.

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Hi there @Nothingshocking!
I’m pretty new to all this too, and it sounds like you already have more experience than I do, however you were asking about recommended soil mix; here is a little recipe I found online so I tried to stick as close to this as I could;

You can make your own potting mix using the following formula:

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 3 parts compost
  • 2 parts perlite, moistened
  • 1 part vermiculite, moistened

So you can use both perlite and verm as one helps with aeration and the other with moisture retention.

I believe it’s not recommended to clone autos as it would just grow at the same level as the mother plant, unlike photos which grow by light, not time. Hope that makes sense.

I’ve also read in many places that it’s good to start autos in their final pot, as transplanting them can cause shock because they flower so quickly in comparison to photos which have time to recover.

As I say, I’m no expert but I’ve done a LOT of research and the guys on here are amazing and will no doubt be an invaluable source of info. I’ve spent hours reading through threads!

My downfall was the soil ph. It was too high for too long and caused problems. Getting back on track now though. So watch that. :relaxed:

Good luck!


I used that peat moss mix 1st time to pretty great results though coco coir may be mildly better my recommendations are get fans for ventilation and circulation a humidifier and dehumidifier a good 40$+ph meter and a cheap tds meter also dont forget your fertilizer I’m into organics with that mix but hydroponic work in it too. Yea and no cloning sadly you’ll get a single bud plant sadly

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Thanks CJ, what kind of compost are you using? My town offers free compost, I can see the field of piles with the steam coming off it on cool days. I assume they are composting our yard waste, the composting field is behind the area where we can dump our yard waste. Would this work? It’s free so I’d love to use it. I planted some tomato plants side by side in the town mulch unimproved and “Gardening soil” purchased from a big box store. The garden soil performed significantly better, or maybe I should say the compost tomato plant really sucked. Maybe it sucked because I didn’t add perlite, peat and vermiculite?

Or are you using compost from the garden center? I saw Cow Manure, Chicken Poop, and Mushroom compost while out shopping.

For now I just mixed up 2 5 gallon pots with 5 parts “Gardening Soil” 2 parts “Garden Compost” 1 part Peat, 2 parts Perlite. I added the organic fertilizer called “Garden Tone” at 2/3 strength, and will use fertilizer weekly starting the second week with starter fertilizer at 50% strength. But I’ll try your recipe because I kind of whinged it.

Mushroom or cow compost it typically best but really any compost will work because you’re using it as much for the bacteria in it as you are for the nutrients

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Thanks GreenSnek, Menards has 2.2 cubic feet of peat for $7.50, and Lowes has Coco Noir for $4.50 for 8 quarts, and there’s 9 quarts in 2.2 cubic feet, so $7.50 vs $40, so I’ll stick to peat as long as the difference isn’t significant.

I plan to pick up ventilation fans, do you have any inexpensive recommendations? I have a couple fans I can use until I get something dedicated for my grow room. Also for ventilation, I know this stuff can stink up my entire house.

When I grew previously, I was fortunate enough to live beneath a dress seamstress’s business and she was cool. But our place smelled as soon as you walked in the front door, and I am certain the seamstress could smell it too. But if I ran a 190 CMF fan continuously and vented it outside my house where the dryer vent is, would that be enough to keep the smell minimized and outside? Again, I’m legal to grow so I don’t care if neighbors can detect the scent, but I can’t have some people over is the inside of my home smells like strong weed.

The PH meter I wasn’t going to get but the TDS Meter I definitely want and didn’t know what it was called, so thanks very much. How important is a PH meter? I remember messing with the PH a bunch for my fish tank and then I just gave up, because it was a pain, and the fish didn’t care at all - is this actually critical or just if you have PH issues with your water? Ours is a little hard because there’s limestone beneath Lake Michigan, but the Peat should balance it out.

Anyway, thanks for the info!

Great, I’ve got a couple White Widows in water, I’ll try this recipe with Cow manure compost in a couple days.

I’m no pro grower by any means but I would consider a ph meter to be a critical tool.
You want to ph your water to around 6.3-6.8
(6.5 being the sweet spot I believe).
I dont think PHing water is as critical in soil
(unless your water ph is way off)
because the soil helps balance the PH.
I would still ph my water tho.

As far as lights go here’s your man @dbrn32.
The light guru.

GL on your grow man.


Hey @Nothingshocking

So I admit, I just used garden centre soil but added the perlite etc. But you have to be careful as soil comes in different varieties, for example, you can get ‘clay’ soil - avoid this. But ‘sandy’, ‘silty’ or ‘loamy’ which are all much better for different reasons.
You don’t want to make the same mistake @Se7en and I made with the clay type soil! :sweat_smile:

Any manure/guano or worm castings are good for nutrients, but not straight away, I don’t think. Others can chime in on that area…

Not sure what happened with your tomatoes, could have been a combination of things.

How big is the grow area? For fans I just use like a clip on desk fan. But my grow tent is teeny weeny…

And also I would say ph metre is a MUST. either a soil probe or a pen - or both!


@Nothingshocking I also meant to say to find a soil/compost with a high peat content. Like 60% or more, I’d say.

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Thanks Kamdo, our water is typically 7.5 out of the tap. I will look into it.

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I would say ph metre is essential. I use soil mix but because I made the mistake of watering it with straight up tap water for the first week or two my ph went way to high and I’ve been battling it ever since.
I’d suggest having some Ph Down solution and at least a water ph pen ready before you start.

After adding all the goodies to the soil I had to fix my soil ph before I even planted.

If you got those you’ll be good for the first few weeks.

Good luck mate!

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Yes, the garden soil I am using isn’t very clayish, I got the organically improved stuff.

I have a large closet I am growing in - it’s about 8’ X 16’ but I’m using it as my total garden center, so most of the room has supplies and a work area.

For now I am sectioning off an 6’ x 3’ area with Mylar “Walls”. Right now everything is open with a pair of 265 Watt Burple Lights hanging over 2 autoflowers. When I’m done with the Mylar walls, the top 1’ will be open air, and the lights will hang down below the walls. I should get natural ariflow up and out into the larger garden center area, and I will be adding an exhaust fan to pull the warm stinky air outside my house.

I’ll have 600 Watts of LED light for this area - 4 150 Watt spiderfarm knockoff lights, if the knockoffs don’t perform I can return them by 1/31/21, so I will get a full autogrow cycle in to test with. The lights were $80 each, they had 100 Watt versions for $55 - but these have Samsung 301D diodes vs the 301B diodes the Spiderfarm diodes have, based on the spec sheet, I’m expecting them to be somewhere between 75% and 95% as effective at 50% of the price.

Is this a good bundle? Will it do the job?

water ph tester, soil ph tester, combo TDS/Thermometer

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Ok so I’ll hand it over to the pro’s regarding the light situation - I got lucky with mine and just happened to pick a light that worked well for my space.

The thing I’m not sure about is, and I may have misunderstood, is the grow space has an open top? Meaning the smell would just waft out the top but then get sucked out by a separate exhaust built in the same room?
Umm, I think that could work but I think if you’re trying to reduce smell you’ll need seal the top up and incorporate the exhaust into the ceiling of the ‘tent’ to then lead outside.
Again, no expert so maybe others can comment on this too?

If it were me, i’d buy that bundle!
Yeah ok it’s prob not the greatest on the market but enough to get good results!
I use similar stuff. I don’t have a TDS metre yet but heard it’s really important too - especially if you need advice because you’ll have all the measurements ready to go!

Also check if it comes with calibration solution/sachets. You’ll probably need to calibrate the ph metre before you can use it.

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Well I can for sure say DO NOT use Scott’s brand soil.
I mean maybe I got a bad batch but I used it a while back and it all but killed 12 plants and did kill 5.

I changed absolutely nothing except trying that soil in place of some cheaper soil.

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The moisture meters are pretty useless. They tend to work for a while then become completely inaccurate.
I use the vivosun brand ph meter and tds meter.
So far so good. I have Upgraded to a more expensive brand ph meter and tds meter now tho.
I wanted a waterproof one.
But the Vivosun tds n ph are still accurate when comparing to readings from top shelf (blue lab) meters I have now.
The vivosun meters are about 6 months old now.

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