I’ve grown houseplants for years but when I tried hydroponics and I failed miserably. I could grow lettuce and other quick growing plants but when I tried tomato plants they always died when they got larger. I’ve pretty much decided that the small hydroponics kits you see on sale on-line and on eBay may have all of the chemicals you need to grow, but they don’t have what you need to maintain the correct liquid hydroponics cocktail to grow large plants or to grow a plant to flowering or budding stage. The big guys can do hydroponics because they can afford to buy the expensive equipment needed to monitor their chemical solutions.
This article is about growing high light plants like tomatoes, peppers, marijuana, etc indoors without using hydroponics. To be successful you need a bright light source that generates minimum heat and a enclosure to contain and focus the light. Everything you need except for the LED Grow lights should be locally available. We used our own Grow Sun Grow lights in this project because they work very well.
Step 1: Select Cabinet
I bought this 70"H x 48"W x 20"D Wood Composite Multi-Purpose Cabinet from LOWES for $108.00.
Step 2: Cabinet Details
Picture of cabinet before I installed the doors or did the modifications. Each side is perfect for the pots I bought
Step 3: Buy the Right Pot
Step 4: Buy the Right Soil
Step 5: Provide Ventilation
Step 6: Choose Good Lights
Step 7: Modify the Cabinet
The inside walls of the cabinet I bought were tan colored so I painted them bright white before I started assembling. You can use any white paint, even inside house paint. I used bright white glossy spray paint and 2 cans were enough to cover everything I needed to paint.
Next I followed the included instrictions to assemble the cabinet.
I started the modifications by drilling 1-3/8″ vent holes to the outside of the cabinet and a 1-3/8″ hole for the power cord.
Picture 1—Drill a 1-3/8" hole through the back, top of the cabinet for a extension cord.
Picture 2—Drill 1-3/8" vent holes along both sides of the top.
Picture 3—To protecting the finish, drill the holes from the inside until just the drill tip pokes through then finish by drilling the rest from the outside.
Picture 4—Completed vent holes along one end of the cabinet.
Note: Instead of simple exhaust holes dumping back into the same room you can mount a bathroom exhaust fan in the top of the cabinet and then run flexible exhaust fan duct to the outside.
Step 8: Add Main Ventilation Holes
Picture 1—I used a 3-1/2" hole saw for the main vent holes
Picture 2—Drill one centered hole between each lower area and the top shelf of the cabinet.
Picture 3—Drill a 9/16" hole behind the main vent hole for the grow light power cord. You can see the 3-1/2" vent hole in the picture.
Picture 4—Picture of one of the inside vent and power holes from the bottom. You can see the inside of the cabinet top through the hole.
Step 9: Wire the Fans, Mount the Fans & Lights and Final Wrap-up
Picture 1—The 120mm Fans I chose for the project
Picture 2—Cut the PC power connectors off the end of the fan wires then strip back the outer covering to expose three wires. The black and red wires are negative and positive power. The yellow wire is the tach output and not needed.
Picture 3—Cut the yellow wire off - you don't need it.
Picture 4—Then solder both fans to the power jack so both fans will turn on whan you plug in the power supply. Or you can cut the power plug off the end of the power supply cord and straight wire the fans to the power supply.
Picture 5—Mount the fans centered above each main vent hole so that the fans pull air up into the top shelf area.
Picture 6—Both fans mounted and plugged into the power supply. You can see the power supply plugged into the end of the extension cord in the middle of the picture.
Picture 7—Mount the lights directly opposite from the fans. Our Grow Sun grow lights include intergal mounting brackets that can be used to surface mount like I mounted these or they can be hung from chains.
Picture 8—Here is a better picture of the mounted Grow Sun grow light. You can see the edge of the vent hole by the mounting bracket.
Picture 9—I used this light timer from Lowes because it has 4 outlets. I plugged the two plant light power supplies into 2 of the outlets then plugged the timer into one of the open extension cord outlets.
Picture 10—Here are the lights below the shelf and the power supplies and fans on top. You can see that everything fits with plenty of room left over for supplies. You can also see how bright our lights are - they are much brigher than the camera flash.
Picture 11—Here is a picture showing the Grow Sun grow light turned on. The light looks violet becase we output only red light and blue light.
Picture 12—And like I mentioned earlier, our Grow Lights run so cool you can place your hand on them. Try this with a High Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide lamp and your hand will be blistered in seconds. Also, you can see that this light is much brighter than florescent grow lights.
Picture 13—And a straight on picture of our LED grow light mounted in the cabinet. Each 1 Watt led is being driven full power and the Surface Mount LEDs are so bright that everything around the light looks black to the camera.
Picture 14—One of two tomato plants we are growing in our cabinet. And yes, we are growing tomatos and not Medical Marijuana or Cannabis. Growing Pot is illegal in Alabama!
Picture 15—Tomato plants inside the cabinet. The light gets dimmer twords the bottom because the doors are open and the light is escaping out the front. Once the doors are closed the light really brightens up from top to bottom.
Step 10: Final Grow Cabinet