Introduction to Growing Cannabis on a Budget
For whatever reason, the general opinion is that growing cannabis is expensive and complicated. We are here to change that notion. The truth is, it’s called “cannabis” for a reason – it’s a very hearty and resilient plant under. As such, we want every gardener to grow it as though it were another garden variety. Not many plants grow as vigorously, express such a variety of smells and tastes, display so many different shades of the rainbow, and provide medical benefits.
What You Need to Grow Cannabis Indoors and On a Budget
- Trimming scissors
- Three-gallon containers
- A fan
- A space (tent, closet, etc.)
The above items are the bare minimum of growing cannabis cheap! There are several other accessories you can use to help produce the best yield possible and aid with clean-up, including a watering can fabric grow pot, saucer, and natural leaf shine. This can be an expensive toolkit to put together on your own. To save money, you can check out complete grow kits at Cannabis Hub. Our community has everything you need to grow.
Grow Room Requirements
When setting up your cannabis grow room, you need to follow a few grow room requirements:
The Grow Room Must Be Lightproof
Designating the amount of light and darkness your plants receive is very important for an indoor grow room. By making your grow room lightproof, you ensure that your cannabis plant can get 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness.
Another reason you need it to be lightproof is that as your plant matures, you’ll have to adjust the amount of light and darkness the plant receives. If your room isn’t lightproof, this can disrupt the growth cycle, forcing the plants to go back to a vegetative state (non-flowering).
If you’re wanting some ideas for micro-grow rooms, see this article.
Ventilate Your Grow Room
Ventilation is something growers shouldn’t skimp on, regardless of their budget. Extractor fans help pull old, stale air out of your room/tent so it can be replaced with fresh, oxygen-rich air from outside, while oscillating fans help keep air moving throughout your grow room. Both are super important for supporting the growth of your plants and keeping your room/tent free of pests (e.g., spider mites) and pathogens (e.g., mold).
To reduce the cost of your ventilation system, make sure you buy an extractor fan with a m³/h rating that will ensure the correct air circulation. m³/h (cubic metre per hour) is an indicator of how much air an extractor can pull out of a space every hour. For proper ventilation, you’ll want to invest in a fan with a m³/h 70 times higher than the volume of your room/tent. This is because the average number of air exchanges required in a grow room is around 70 per hour.
For example, if you’re growing in a tent that measures 1m × 1m × 2m (with a total volume of 2m³), invest in an extractor fan with at least 140m³/h. You’ll want the smallest possible extractor that can effectively maintain an optimal, consistent temperature in your indoor garden. The smaller the extractor, the less power it’ll use, and the more money you’ll save.
Properly ventilating a small indoor grow space isn’t rocket science, but it’s essential nonetheless. If you can avoid the occurrence of pests, plagues, and inferior results for little money and effort, why not make your life easier?
Pro tip: We also recommend outfitting your extractor fan with a carbon filter to help reduce the smell of your grow-op.
If you’re looking for good a variety of good ventilation fans, you can check out our Community.
The Grow Room Needs a Waterproof Floor
Your plants will need water and eventually, water will leak onto the floor. To protect your floors, you’ll want to ensure that the plants are over-waterproof flooring. This can be tile, plastic, cement, or rubber.
Another reason you’ll want waterproof flooring is to create humidity. Spraying the floor with water will help increase the humidity levels in your grow room. Extra humidity also creates moisture that will damage your flooring if it isn’t waterproof.
If you’re looking for quality waterproofing, you can check out our Community.
Reflective Walls will Also Benefit Your Plants
One more thing to optimize your grow room is to have reflective walls. Reflective walls amplify the lamp’s light to help increase the plant’s yield. White or metallic walls will reflect more than black walls. A grow tent is an excellent solution for creating an optimal growing environment, but you can also line your walls with tin foil.
You can create your own grow room relatively cheaply using DIY materials or a grow tent. Once your room is ready, you’ll need the right equipment to give your plants the best chance of developing strong.
If you’re looking for quality reflective material, you can check out our Community.
Use Training Techniques to Your Advantage
There are countless ways to train cannabis plants to produce bigger yields of higher-quality bud. Some techniques can even help you save money by reducing the running costs of your grow room and the time it takes to get to harvest.
One of our favourite budget-friendly growing techniques is SOG (sea of green). Growing numerous small plants (either from seed or clone) close together is much faster and often less labour-intensive than growing fewer, larger plants and training them with LST, topping, etc.
To reduce the cost of your next grow, consider growing in SOG using small autoflowers or cuttings from a fast-flowering indica strain. You’ll enjoy good yields, and you’ll reach that harvest date much faster than if you were to grow and train two or three sativas which can often have longer flower times.
Grow Room Equipment for Cheap
When equipping your grow room, you can do it bare bones or increase your yield with measurement and control tools. Either option will work, but the more you invest, the better quality your plants will be. Here are the essential tools you will need:
Indoor Grow Light
Whether you’re building a basic indoor grow room or an upgraded room, you need high-quality lighting. When outfitting your grow room, you’ll want to buy the best lamp bulb for your budget. There are three types of lamps that work best indoors for growing cannabis:
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs): Fluorescent lights are great during the vegetative phase because they emit little heat and are very energy efficient. Unfortunately, CFLs don’t cover the full UV spectrum, so they aren’t the best lights during the flowering phase. A cheaper option, you can expect to grow about an ounce of pot for every 100 watts.
High-Pressure Sodium Lights (HPS): HPS lights produce the full UV spectrum for all growing phases. These are the most powerful lights which can boost growth. A big con to HPS is that they aren’t efficient and can increase your energy bill significantly. They also produce a fair amount of heat that will need a management system, or the heat can damage the plants. HPS lamps can produce about three ounces of cannabis for every 100 watts.
Metal Halides (MH): These lamps contain a quartz tube filled with a noble gas. An arc of electricity is sparked between two electrodes inside the tube to create light. MH bulbs contain metal halide. This gas burns with a cool white light that contains a large amount of light in the blue wavelengths, which plants require primarily in the vegetative stage and lesser in the flowering stage.
Light-Emitting Diode Lights (LED): LED lights can produce the right spectrum of light for all growth phases, and they are very energy efficient. LEDs can be more expensive upfront but can save money over time. Another con to LEDs is that they aren’t as powerful as other options. LEDs can produce about two ounces of cannabis for every 100 watts.
Depending on how many plants you are growing, you may want to weigh which lamp will be the best option. CFLs are going to be your cheapest option but won’t produce as much as an HPS.
Growing with the Sun
Sunlight – Arguably natural sunlight for your plant is better than any amount of artificial indoor grow light; there is nothing that we can create that will quite replicate the real thing. Cannabis grows particularly well when it gets plenty of sunlight, anything between 10 and 12 hours is what your sunbathing cannabis needs. The light from the sun is already full spectrum and has everything your plant would want. It provides the plants with both UVA and UVB rays.
Seeing that cannabis needs so much sun, you will potentially need to use a lot of electricity if you want to replicate those conditions. Cannabis grows particularly well when it gets plenty of sunlight, anything between 10 and 12 hours is what your sunbathing cannabis needs. Sunlight is 100% free, which is probably the biggest reason to try and grow outdoors.
Summer is cannabis’s best time for growing seeing that the sun is high in the sky for much longer. In the Northern hemisphere, the sun sits in the southern half.
It is also worth noting that, if you do plant outdoors, you should choose a south-facing area. This will ensure that you don’t get pestered with shade. When space is not readily available, growing in tiers is a good way to maximize your space.
Ensure You’re Working With Good Cannabis Soil
Growing cannabis in soil is a great way to crop fat, flavoursome flowers. Moreover, soil is one of the most forgiving substrates. What are the best soils for growing cannabis? What do you need to know if you want to make your own soil? Our guide answers these questions and more!
When growing cannabis, using the right soil is crucial. Unfortunately, sourcing the best soil isn’t always straightforward. From cannabis-specific soils to bargain universal substrates and pre-fertilised types, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming to novices. And what if you want to make your own soil from scratch?
Why Soil Is Important for Growing Cannabis Plants
The soil quality is crucial for the growth of your plants, as it provides living conditions and essential nutrients for the root system. If you keep your cannabis plants happy, you are more likely to produce large flowers with favourable properties.
The importance of good potting soil for our plants (cannabis) is like a well-deserved warm meal. When finding the best potting soil for your plant, show respect and care by providing it with a spacious room and a healthy diet.
Different Types of Soils
If you want to grow your cannabis, you should distinguish between natural soils and potting soil mixes. Cannabis, like any other plant, needs nutrients, which the growing medium should provide adequately. Natural soils generally fall into four categories:
In the cannabis growing community, many soils combine at least two of these four types. There are also different ratios of each soil type.
While natural soil needs some help with nutrients, potting soil mixes are specifically designed to deliver needed nutrients to a plant’s roots. Here are the most common forms of natural soil for growing cannabis:
Loamy soil is a mixture of organic soil types and different clay, sand, and silt ratios. The combination brings out the best qualities of these different soil types and avoids their undesirable characteristics.
An optimal ratio for loamy soil is about 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. It has an approximately neutral pH, ideal for cannabis and hemp plants. Some people believe that a pH of 6.0 is excellent for growing cannabis.
Loam typically has a pH close to neutral. Loamy soils are usually at the top of the list of best options when cannabis growers are looking for the optimal soil. This is because loamy soil provides top-notch drainage and excellent water retention.
High-quality loamy soils should be rich in organic nutrients and have high oxygen levels. Although loamy soils can be expensive, they provide an optimal balance of water retention, drainage and nutrients. The right balance is critical for the plant’s healthy growth.
If you’re a cannabis grower looking for soil that is easy to work with, sandy soils are a good choice. Due to the larger granule size – that is, the larger pieces of sand – sandy soils have good drainage.
However, water retention is poor. So when you water your cannabis, the nutrients are quickly washed away. On the other hand, the larger particle size makes the soil porous and allows the root system to get plenty of oxygen. This coarse soil mix is not the best option for many cannabis growers, as water retention is relatively poor.
Sandy soils, however, have the advantage of optimal drainage. Like silty soils, which have a particle size between sand and clay, sandy soils are relatively easy to work and amend. They are best known for their low pH and large granule size.
Silty soils have a medium granule size, leading to more desirable water retention and less favourable drainage than sand. Silty soil mixes will naturally contain abundant beneficial organic minerals and nutrients.
These potting soils are easy to work with and are a good option for growing cannabis. Compared to loam, a silt soil mix has good water retention, and its drainage can be considered average. Silty soil mixes are fertile, malleable, and easy to amend.
Clay soil usually has a high pH and a small grain size. This type of soil mix is rich in nutrients and minerals and is one of the best organic options for cannabis. Unlike sandy soils, clay soils have excellent water retention but poor drainage.
Due to their nutrient richness, clay soils are good organic soils but have the disadvantage of being heavy and difficult to work with. Clay soil consists of fine crystalline particles formed by chemical reactions between minerals and other natural resources.
You can shape or sculpt clay soil to your liking, but it drains poorly and is difficult to work. Plant roots may have difficulty penetrating the surface if you choose to use this type of soil. Clay soils tend to have a higher pH; they are heavy and require more effort overall.
Other tips for growing on a budget
Grow From Clones
The cost of buying new seeds after every harvest can add up, especially if you’ve got a big garden and grow several plants at a time. Cloning can offset some of those costs, giving you the opportunity to reproduce your favourite strains without having to invest in new seeds every time.
Keep in mind, however, that cloning also comes at a cost. In order to get good results, you’ll want to take your clones from a robust, healthy mother plant, which you’ll need to keep in constant vegetation. Keeping a mother requires space, a constant 18/6 light cycle, and plenty of fertiliser. But, in return, you’ll get the opportunity to take numerous clones from your mother every few weeks, potentially for years to come.
Note that, over time, the yield potential of mother plants tends to go down. To deal with this, most growers renew their mother plants every 6–12 months. In general, we recommend buying seeds, keeping the healthiest plant from your seeds as a mother, and cloning it for 6 months before repeating the process. This will help ensure you’re always working with healthy plants.
Use All Parts of the Cannabis Plant
Cannabis is an amazing plant with tons of uses. Unfortunately, many growers forget that at harvest time. The stems and leaves many growers misprize post-harvest can be used to make tea, cannabutter, infused cooking oils, lotions and topicals, and much more. Make sure you hold onto these parts of the plant next time you harvest to reduce the waste of your grow-op.
Reuse and Recycle
Chances are you’re likely going to conduct more than one cannabis grow in your lifetime. Hence, make the effort to reuse and recycle as many of the products/tools you use in your grow room as possible. Some obvious grow tools you can reuse include:
Pots: Unless they are broken, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to reuse your cannabis pots for multiple grows. Just make sure you fully sanitise each container before planting a new specimen.
Soil: Quality soil is one of the biggest costs of a cannabis grow room/garden. Luckily, you can reuse old soil pretty easily. Just know that you’ll need to supplement some new material into your old soil to boost its nutritional value and structure.
Hoses, pruning shears, gardening gloves: If you’ve got gardening equipment you use for other plants, don’t go out and spend more money on extra tools for your cannabis garden. Simply sterilise your tools before each use (where necessary) to avoid spreading pests and disease from your cannabis plants to the rest of your garden, and vice versa.
Try composting: If you want to take things a step further and save even more, consider composting the organic waste from your house (such as vegetable scraps, paper, and cardboard). Composting is very simple and, while it takes some time, produces an excellent, nutrient-rich growing medium for your plants. Best of all, composting is virtually free. All you need is a compost bin (any old bucket, bag, or pot can work), time, and some composting worms (technically optional; composting without worms just takes a little longer).
Other Equipment that Can Boost Your Yield
Aside from great soil and lighting, here are a few more tools that can enhance your plant’s growth:
- Reflector: Directs light on the ceiling and walls back toward your plants.
- Ballast: Controls the energy used by your lamp to reduce energy costs.
- Time Switch: Automatically manage your light schedule by turning the lamps on and off based on the cycles you set.
- Air Extractor: Pulls heat from the room and helps manage the smell of the plants.
- Carbon Filter: Neutralizes the odor from the plants.
- Air Intake: Helps circulate and pump fresh air into the room to enable plant growth.
- Thermostat Controller: Regulates the air extractor to help maintain an optimal room temperature.
- Rotating Fan: Rotates and circulates the air for an even distribution of CO2 to all the plants.
- Hygrometer: Measures the humidity in the room.
- Thermometer: Measures the temperature in the room.
- Water Tank: Helps to make the nutrient solution.
- EC Meter: Measures the nutrients and minerals in the water.
- PH Meter: Measures the pH levels in the water to perfect the balance.
- Watering Can or Pump: Helps water the plants.
All of these tools can enhance your growth, but it might not be feasible to buy all of them on a budget. All you need is a head on your shoulders and a dash of motivation. What you don’t need is a grow room, a grow light, or even a green thumb. With just a bit of sun, you can enjoy the journey of harvesting your own homegrown. The truth is, if you are one of those people who kill plants, that’s just because you never had a plant worth caring about. By using our kit combined with auto-flowering cannabis seeds, all you need to do is add water, sunshine, and a little love.