SHELF GROWING - Weed Growing Guide
Shelf gardening with fluorescents may be the trend of the future, since the
materials are so inexpensive, and easy to obtain. Fluorescent lamps are great
for shelf gardening. In this system, many shelves can be placed, one above the
other, and fluorescent lamps are used on each shelf. Some shelves have 24 hour
lighting, some have 12 hour lighting (for flowering). Two areas are best,
perhaps with one other devoted to cloning and germination of seed.
Shelf gardening assumes your going to keep all plants 3 or shorter at maturity,
so all shelves are 3-4 feet apart. Less light is necessary when you have plants
that are this short and forced to mature early.
One drawback to a shelf garden like this is that it is very time consuming to
adjust the lamp height every day, and it is harder to take a vacation for even a
week with no tending of the garden. This applies mostly to the vegetative stage,
when plants are growing as much as an inch per day. Lamps on the flowering
shelves are not adjusted nearly as often.
Normally, the lamps should be kept within 2 inches of the tops of the plants,
with the plants arranged such that they get progressively taller as the end of
the lamps go up, so that all plants are within this 2" range. This is an
ideal however, and if you do go on vacation, adjust the lamps so that your sure
the plants will not be able to grow up to the lamps within that length of time.
If enough flourecents are used to completely saturate the shelf with light, the
spacing issue will not create spindly plants. They will mearly grow a little
slower if the lamps are not very close to them.
An alternative is to use fluorescent lamps for cloning, germination and early
seedling growth on the top shelf of a closet, then switch over to HPS for heavy
vegatative growth and/or flowering in the main closet area.
Position the HPS such that it do not need adjustment, at the top most possible
point in the closet or room. Most HPS installations will not require lamp height
adjustment. Just attach the lamp to the underside of shelf or ceiling as high as
possible, and if you want to get a few plants closer to it, put them on a
temporary shelf, box or table to get them closer to the lamp.
A shelf is all that is necessary with this type of setup, preferably at least
18" wide, up to about 24" maximum. This area must be painted a very
bright white, or covered with aluminum foil, dull side out to reflect light back
to the plants. (Dull side out prevents hot-spots; diffuses light better.) Paint
the shelf white too. Or, use aluminized mylar, a space blanket, or any silvery
surface material. Do not use mirrors, as the glass soaks up light.
Hang shop lamps from chains and make sure you can adjust them with hooks or some
other type of mechanism so they can be kept as close to the plants as possible
at all times (1-2"). If the lamps are too far from the plants, the plants
could grow long, spindly stems trying to reach the lamp, and will not produce as
much bud at maturity. This is due to internode length being much longer. This is
the length of stem between each set of leaves. If it is shorter, there can be
more internodes, thus more branches, thus a plant that provides more buds in
less space at harvest time.
Shelf gardening is sometimes referred to as Sea of Green, because many plants
are grown close together, creating a green canopy of tops that are grown and
matured quickly, and the next crop is started and growing concurrently in a
separate area of continuous light. Clones are raised in a constant light shelf,
until they start to grow well vegetatively, then placed on a 12 hour per day
shelf to flower.