How to Grow Weed on a Budget: Indoors and Outdoors
Growing cannabis doesn’t have to be a huge investment. With the right tips, you can reduce the cost of your cannabis grow room/garden and grow top-shelf weed on a budget.
Explore our in-depth guide to growing weed on a budget.
Growing cannabis on a budget can seem outright impossible to the uninformed. The cost of setting up and running a grow room, plus feeding and caring for your plants, can easily seem out of reach for the hobby grower. However, there are, in fact, many ways you can reduce the cost of your next grow-op to suit your financial constraints. In this article, we share our top tips for growing cannabis on a budget, both indoors and outdoors.
General Money-Saving Tips for Cannabis Growing
Cutting the costs for your next grow can be a lot easier than it might seem. Below are a few simple tips to help you save money when growing weed, indoors or out.
Choose Your Seeds Wisely
While it might seem counterintuitive to buy seeds when you’ve got the chance to grow bagseed for free, investing in quality cannabis seeds from the get-go has the potential to save you money (and stress) in the long-run.
When you buy seeds from a respected seed bank, you’re paying for guaranteed quality. Established seed banks have teams of dedicated breeders and growers constantly working to improve their genetics. That means, after germinating your seeds, you can rest assured the plants in your garden will grow strong and healthy (given the right care, of course) and reward you with good yields of top-shelf bud.
Buying autoflowering seeds is another great way to save money. Today’s auto strains have the potential to produce great yields and excellent buds, with the potency and flavours to stand up to any photoperiod strain. If you’re a budget grower, make sure to go auto for your next grow.
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
Let’s be honest; chances are you’re 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).
How to Grow Cannabis Indoors on a Budget
Growing cannabis indoors is generally more expensive than growing outdoors. In order to achieve healthy plants in a room or tent, you’ll need grow lights and fans to recreate the conditions cannabis naturally flourishes in outdoors. Below, you’ll find a list of ways to cut the cost of setting up/running an indoor grow room.
Build a Grow Room Out of an Old Cupboard or Closet
Rather than forking out top dollar for a grow tent, consider transforming a spare cupboard or closet in your house into a grow room. Just remember that you’ll want to cover the walls of whatever space you use with a reflective material (white plastic or Mylar film work best). This will reflect more light onto your plants, making for a more efficient grow room.
If you’re really short on space, consider building a micro grow room using an old computer tower.
Build Your Own Grow Tent
If you haven’t got a cupboard, closet, or old computer tower to refurbish into a grow room, consider building your own grow tent using basic materials like PVC pipe and panda film.
If you’re not the DIY type, try shopping around for a budget tent online. There are many grow tents on the market for as little as €50; just don’t expect them to be packed with features or have the best build quality, but they should last you at least a couple of harvests.
Utilise the Right Lighting
There are a ton of lighting options on the market, and finding the right solution for your grow room can be quite a task. If you’re growing on a budget, however, we generally recommend investing in a quality LED lighting panel.
While LED lights come at a higher outright cost than HID lights, they are much more efficient and cheaper to run, making them more cost-effective in the long-term. Not only that, but LEDs tend to run much cooler than HIDs, which is an important factor given the spatial limitations of most indoor budget growers.
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 and pathogens.
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.
Keep Temperatures Down
If you’ve followed our recommendations up until now, you shouldn’t run into any issues with heat. Remember to use small oscillating fans to move air around your plants and keep old, warm air from getting trapped inside the room. You can also opt to run your grow lights during the night if you live in a very hot area.
Choose the Right Growing Medium
Soil is by far the most budget-friendly growing medium. If you want to further cut the costs of your grow-op, consider making your own super soil using compost, vermiculite, and organic fertilisers. As mentioned earlier, remember to reuse your old soil, if possible.
Grow With or Without Nutrients
While most growers opt to feed their plants with chemical fertilisers, there is a strong trend towards organics in the world of cannabis cultivation. In general, we always favour using organic fertilisers as they work with the soil to slowly deliver nutrients to plants.
Today, there are plenty of organic fertilisers on the market, and many of them come at a similar cost as their non-organic counterparts. However, using organic fertilisers might actually lower the cost of your grow-op in the long-run.
Want to reduce the costs of growing cannabis? In this article, we share our top money-saving tips for growing cannabis both indoors and outdoors.
Tips for Growing Cannabis on a Budget
Monday August 5, 2019
T hough there are many companies and experienced marijuana growers who thrive on expensive equipment and extensive grow spaces, these are not requirements for growing healthy, potent cannabis plants. In fact, there are many budget-friendly ways to set up a cannabis grow that will still produce bountiful buds and very stony heads.
Cannabis Lighting on a Budget
By far, the most cost-effective grow light is the sun. Its powerful UV rays provide deep penetration (which encourages the growth of dense buds) and its seasonal photoperiod removes the need for timers to switch the grow phase from vegetation and flower. Furthermore, naturally occurring sunlight minimizes (or eliminates) the cost of electricity associated with maintaining a grow operation.
Of course, using the sun as your cannabis light source is best for those of us who actually experience an outdoor grow season. In regions that experience extensive cold seasons, greenhouses and cold frames can be an easy solution (albeit a bit of an investment at first).
For those with limited outdoor space, time, or start-up budgets, indoor LED lights are another budget-friendly lighting option. LED lights have dropped significantly in price over the last ten years, now running as low as $50 for some models. Not only that, but LEDs are also significantly cheaper to run and maintain than traditional HID lighting systems (and they don’t require a ballast to keep them from overworking an electrical source). LEDs also produce minimal heat (seriously, you can touch them even after they’ve been on all day) which reduces the need for cooling systems and nearly removes the risk of burnt leaves.
Despite their many benefits, LED lights do not offer the same level of light penetration that the sun does, which means that the buds may be a bit fluffier when grown under this light source. For this reason, many growers use LEDs as supplemental lighting alongside other light sources like HIDs (for indoor grow ops) or in greenhouses to extend outdoor grow seasons. However, advances in LED lighting mean they can now be used as stand-alone lighting systems – they are no longer only for secondary purposes.
Cheap Watering Tricks
When growing cannabis, there is no need for filtered or otherwise “special” water; tap water is more than sufficient for cannabis plants. For best results, though, we recommend letting tap water sit out for 24 hours so pH levels can settle, and the water temperature can balance out to a reasonable temperature.
However, there is an even better water source that’s both cheaper and more nutritious for plants: rainwater. That’s because rainwater forms around dust particles in the air, often dirt but in rural areas it might form around manure (i.e. fertilizer) which which is especially rich in nitrogen. Plus, because rainwater is free of chemical treatments like chlorine, the water can absorb deeper into the soil. And because chlorine blocks nutrient absorption, keeping it out of the watering cycle can boost nutrient uptake and encourage better plant growth.
Cheap Grow Mediums
Soil is the most common grow medium and also the most budget friendly. In-ground soil is obviously the cheapest option but will likely have to be amended with things like peat moss and compost. To avoid the risk of cross-contaminating an indoor grow, in-ground soil should not be used indoors. Better soil options for indoor grows include products like Fox Farm Soils or, for a more DIY approach, equal parts of peat moss, worm castings, and perlite.
Some hydroponic grow mediums, though a bit pricier to start, can be reused throughout multiple crops provided that they are sufficiently flushed and dried between uses. In fact, the entire hydroponic setup can be more budget friendly than soil grows thanks to its reduced water consumption and more efficient growth. Though hydroponic gardening takes a bit more practice – and a bit more pocket chance – it could be a better long-term solution to a budget cannabis grow.
Cannabis Ventilation Hacks
The grow environment of a cannabis plant affects its health and cannabinoid production and should therefore not be ignored – even when money is tight. Air should circulate through both intake and exhaust fans, and a carbon filter should be used to control the odor. Fortunately, you can pull all of this off for relatively cheap; a few strategically-placed $10 fans and a $20 DIY carbon filter is all you need.
The Best (Cheap) Sources for Cannabis Seeds and Clones
The cheapest cannabis seeds you can use are good ol’ bag seeds. If you have them, there isn’t much reason not to plant them unless you’re strapped for space and time (because you don’t know if bag seeds will be viable and female), but if that isn’t an option, you can always buy seeds online or from a dispensary for as low as $5 each.
Don’t worry if that price seems high, though! If it grows into a strong plant (especially if it’s a female plant), you can take a clone from it to create a whole new plant with the exact same genetics. Cloning cannabis allows for the cultivation multiple generations of cannabis plants from a single, five-dollar seed.
Another option is to purchase a clone from a store or to take a cutting from a friend. Remember, though, to clean and quarantine any plant from an outside source by dipping them in a diluted pest solution, transplanting them into a more long-term grow container, then leaving them away from all other plants for about a week. This will give you enough time to monitor its health and remedy any concerns without contaminating a sanitary grow space.
Growing your own cannabis doesn’t have to be expensive. Aside from a few simple necessities, the setup is actually quite affordable. Best of all, once a solid system is in place, the expenses drop significantly. Happy growing!
What do you do to save on cannabis growing expenses? Tell us in the comments below.
Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
There are many ways to effectively grow a cannabis plant and not all of them require a lot of money to maintain. Learn more about growing marijuana on a budget and how you can have a successful harvest without breaking the bank.