Small Grow Tents, Big Results: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Cannabis IndoorsEverything you need to know to grow your own cannabis with just 8 sq. ft. of floor space and a small grow tent.
Small grow tents have experienced a surge in popularity over the last several years. Although private cannabis growers have been growing indoors for decades, factors such as the pandemic and a growing legalization movement have a wide range of people growing their own produce, both edible and smokable.
“We even have customers growing pineapples in their tent,” Kyle from Green Goddess Supply told us during one of our scheduled meetings. Whether you’re growing cannabis, tomatoes, or pineapples, an indoor grow tent might have more benefits than you realize.
Thanks to our friends at Green Goddess, we set up our first indoor grow tent in January to gain a bit of first-hand experience that we could share with you.
In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide based on our experiences over the last 80 days, including:
- The benefits of growing cannabis at home.
- Choosing and setting up a small grow tent.
- Additional equipment and supplies we used.
- The steps we took for growing our own amazing cannabis plants.
We’ll also share little snippets of our mistakes and what we learned from them and provide tips and tricks to help you maximize your yield and produce high-quality buds. Through our own first-person perspective, this article will help beginning growers embark on a journey to growing cannabis indoors using a small grow tent.
The Benefits of Owning a Small Grow Tent
During an interview, Ed Rosenthal once told me, “Growing cannabis is addictive!” And I can certainly vouch for that sentiment since we started our grow-at-home experiment.
Although we’ve grown a few plants outside, the ATS-42 small grow tent kit helped us create a controlled environment to grow our cannabis plants, despite being winter in Colorado. By having complete control over the environment, we’ve gone from seed to harvest in less than 80 days, significantly increasing the number of crops we can grow throughout the year.
And, although we haven’t finished the curing process yet, my husband guesstimates our yield will be between four to eight ounces of dry flower. (A value of approximately $500-1000 at dispensary prices.)
Growing at home has allowed us to choose our own plants, control the nutrients they receive, and manage the light cycle they follow. Growing your own cannabis is a gratifying experience and, frankly, a tremendous source of pride.
We’ve used cannabis medicinally for seven years. We also live in Colorado and have long lost any shame in being cannabis consumers, so our tent proudly sits in our living room like a showroom appliance. But we understand many others don’t have that luxury. So, the ability to grow cannabis in a small grow tent can be a discreet option for those who want to avoid judgment and stigma. The included carbon scrubber prevents any odors from escaping, too.
Small Grow Tents: Benefits Beyond the Obvious
Of course, growing at home will save us money and give us more control over the products we consume, and I could write a dissertation about the health and wellness benefits of cannabis. However, let’s not forget to mention the mental health benefits of horticulture in general. Research published last year by Texas A&M AgriLife experts suggests gardening may positively impact our mental health. The study explains the psychological benefits of growing plants include:
- Anxiety and stress reduction.
- Attention deficit recovery.
- Decreased depression.
- Enhanced memory retention.
- Reduced effects of dementia.
- Mitigation of PTSD.
- Improved overall happiness.
- Increased creativity, productivity, and attention.
Interestingly, growing cannabis can provide some of the same health benefits without even consuming it. With a small grow tent, you can reap the benefits of cultivation - whether you choose to grow cannabis, tomatoes, or decorative flowers.
Choosing a Small Grow Tent
With so many options on the market today, choosing the right grow tent can quickly become overwhelming. You may be assuming that we went with Green Goddess Supply simply because they agreed to provide us with the tent for this project. But it’s important to know we researched several options before we made our proposals, and Green Goddess was at the top of our list.
When choosing your own small grow tent, you may want to consider your experience level, the amount of space you have, and how much you have to spend.
Why we chose the ATS-42 Small Grow Tent Kit.
With dimensions of 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep, and 6 feet tall, this small grow tent system comes complete with everything you need to grow cannabis, including the support system. Many experienced growers can easily build an efficient indoor grow system, but the novice may find it challenging to find all the right components.
Simplifying the process, the ATS-42 small grow tent kit comes with absolutely everything you need:
- A super thick, high-quality 2000D woven nylon tent with sturdy 22mm metal poles
- TWO independently controllable Unicorn Series LED grow lights (and the pulley systems to easily adjust their height)
- 2 internal fans
- 1 external exhaust fan with LCD Controller Module
- Carbon scrubber (air/odor filter)
- 2 fabric grow pots
- 2 plastic 17” plant saucers
- A light timer
- Power strip/surge suppressor
- A padlock (for compliance)
- UV-400 protective glasses
Maybe one of the most valuable yet understated benefits of the Green Goddess ATS-42 is the concierge support provided by Kyle at Green Goddess. As novice growers, we had a lot of questions. We wanted to ensure we were doing everything possible to maximize our yields.
Kyle, an experienced grower and horticulturist was there for us every step of the way. We had unlimited access to pick Kyle’s brain. We scheduled a video check-in each week to show him our progress, ask questions, and express any concerns.
Believe me, whether you’re a novice or a veteran, Kyle is the guy you want in your corner.
Building Your Small Grow Tent System
As demonstrated in our first unboxing video, the entire tent shipped discreetly in two unmarked boxes directly to our house. With a team of two, we got the tent unboxed and assembled in about an hour.
Certainly, if you wanted to, you could piece together a small grow tent by sourcing your own components and using your own ingenuity. However, a kit may be the better option if you want to take the guesswork out of shopping.
Once the tent was set up, the next step was to purchase the only two items we needed to get growing… the seeds and the soil. For this particular experiment, we wanted to follow Green Goddess’s proprietary “High Yield + Easy Grow Autoflower Protocol” as closely as possible, and we wanted to grow with water only.
Choosing and Adding Soil
So, we went to our local gardening supply center and picked up a bag of Fox Farms Ocean Forest Soil. As per Fox Farm’s website, this soil is a “blend of aged forest products, sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, bat guano, fish emulsion, and crab meal.” With super soil, you may not need to add any additional nutrients, but as we learned, your plants will tell you what they need; you just have to learn how to read them.
Per Kyle’s instructions, we dumped all our soil into a large container and mixed in purified water before filling our grow bags. This step ensured the soil was thoroughly moistened before planting our seeds.
While Fox Farms is a great choice, Cannabis Tech also highly recommends Sohum Living Soil, and we'll be highlighting this soil in future content.
Choosing a Cultivar and Planting the Seeds
In the second episode of our setting up our grow, I talked about the differences between autoflowers and photoperiod cannabis plants. Although seasoned growers can use the ATS-42 for photoperiod strains, Green Goddess’s protocol suggests autoflowers as their system is optimized for this type of cultivation.
It's important to note that this particular small grow tent is optimized to grow two plants at a time. This gives your plants plenty of room to branch out, as well as provides optimal airflow.
For our first attempt at growing indoors, we chose Black Strap from TheAutoFlowerStore.com. This cultivar is a combined genetic effort from Gnome Automatics and Brother Mendel’s Selections that blends Anvil F7 (Reversed) x Black Label Cookies III.
Growing this particular variety of cannabis has been incredibly exciting. Once the plants sprouted, we could almost see them grow. Opening the tent and seeing how much they had grown every day was a treat.
Although we haven’t been able to sample the effects of this strain yet, as a 50/50 hybrid, we are hoping for a broad spectrum, high-terpene blend with a very balanced. Our plants smell spicy and sweet, like a warm snickerdoodle cookie fresh from the oven, and the dense trichome coverage even gives the buds the illusion of a sugary coating.
*Don’t worry. The carbon scrubber filter on the exhaust prevents the smell from escaping your tent!
In terms of visual appeal, you may want to grow this flower simply for its beauty. I am not joking. These beautiful girls blossomed into the most enormous, darkest purple flowers I’ve ever seen. While I have yet to see it myself, I’ve read that even the kief from the plant looks black because of the dark colors it expresses.
A Note About Phenotypes
Individual seeds are not clones. In fact, they aren’t even twins. Regardless of the cultivar, the cannabis plant can express different characters based on lineage. In our case, we planted two Black Strap seeds on the same day, and they sprouted on the same day just six days later. But that’s where the similarities ended.
Despite providing both our plants with the same conditions and watering schedule, one plant grew strong and healthy and entered flowering quickly, while the other struggled a little. We quickly learned that just like humans, plants have their own preferences and may require extra care.
With Kyle’s expertise, we figured out that one of our plants preferred more water, and we added a little Fox Farm’s Big Bloom to give her a boost of nutrients. Again, just another example of how the included concierge services were extraordinarily helpful.
Low-Stress Training (LST)
Low-stress training (LST) is a cannabis cultivation technique that increases yields by encouraging plants to grow horizontally instead of vertically. Ultimately, LST aims to create an even canopy of buds that receive equal amounts of light.
LST is called “low stress” because it doesn’t involve cutting or damaging the plant. Instead, it involves gentle bending and training of the branches. To perform LST, we gently bent and manipulated our plant’s branches outward under Kyle's guidance, spreading out the plant to create a relatively flat, even canopy. We used hemp string tied to stakes placed around the pot. As the plant grew, we adjusted the branches to keep the canopy level.
Training the plant to grow horizontally can increase the number of bud sites and improve overall yield. LST can also help increase the potency and quality of the buds, as the even canopy allows for more consistent light exposure and nutrient uptake.
While we made a few mistakes during LST, the experiences will better prepare us for next time. As a word of advice, I highly recommend checking on your plants frequently during the initial phases of LST. During this phase, the branches can get away from you quickly!
Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned
We are delighted with our first attempt at growing cannabis in a small grow tent, and we know that with each new crop, we’re learning how to improve the next. Maybe the most important lesson we learned is that, like everything else in life, practice makes perfect.
We know we’re just getting started and have plenty more to learn. But here are a few tips we’ve learned during our first attempt at growing cannabis indoors.
- Set Yourself Up to Save Money. Your plants cannot tell time; all they know is that the lights are on or they aren’t. Check with your electric company for peak usage times and set your lighting schedule around that. For example, our utility company doubles the electricity rate between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. So, we set up our lighting schedule to avoid running the lights during this peak period. Our lights come on at 8:15 pm, run overnight, and shut off at 2:30 pm for our 18-on, 6-off lighting schedule.
- Be Precise. Measure everything, don’t eyeball it. Don’t guess about anything. Once our plants we about an inch tall, we used a bamboo skewer cut to exactly 8” to ensure the lighting was always the same height above the plant. We checked the distance between the plant and the lights every morning and every night. We also used gallon jugs of purified water and a measuring cup to ensure consistent watering. Do NOT use tap water!
- Use Smart Tech. Most people have some kind of smart technology in their homes. A smart plug and Alexa control our lighting schedule. We’ll also look into other smart sensors to improve monitoring capabilities.
- Keep a journal. Chalk this one up to the “we’ll do better next time” category. One of my biggest regrets is not keeping a better record of our steps and when we took them. We plan to incorporate better record-keeping with our next crop.
- Listen to Kyle. Seriously. If you decide to buy another tent, you are missing out on a full year of Kyle’s expertise and knowledge. This feature exceeded my expectations, and I cannot express enough how invaluable this service is.
Anticipating Harvest & Next Steps
Our plants are just days away from harvest. We just completed flushing the plant that received additional nutrients, and we’ll soon be moving into the drying and curing phases. Then, depending on our final yield, we’ll decide how to process it.
When it’s ready, we’ll provide a full report on the aroma, taste, and smoking experience. But depending on the consistency, we may use some to create an infusion or make rosin.
In the meantime, we’re looking for our next cultivar to try and plan to start growing a new crop very soon! Ready to grow with Cannabis Tech? Get your own small grow tent from Green Goddess Supply here. Affiliate link disclosure: When you purchase using our link, we receive a small commission that helps support our publication. We appreciate you!