[Sticky] Growing Cannabis on a Low Budget
Starting as a cannabis grower is exciting. You have a huge range of strains to grow, many different types of foods, soils, pots, lights and grow tents. But all of this equipment comes at a cost. Growing cannabis on a low budget will limit what you can buy for your cannabis grow. But that doesn't mean you can't grow!
In this post we will discuss ways to start a cannabis grow on a budget. You can spend a fortune on a cannabis grow setup, but, dont forget, this plant will grow naturally, outdoors, if the conditions are right. If you use some initiative, you can use some of the methods below, to start growing cannabis at a very low initial investment.
If you have any questions about starting a grow with very little money, then feel free to ask for advice in our cannabis growers forum
Where to Start
There is one thing, you should never cut corners on. And it matters to indoor, and outdoor growing, and that is GENETICS!!
You must buy good seeds, from a reliable seed bank. Do not pop bag seeds. Genetics is going to be 50% of your battle towards high quality cannabis. You can buy the best genetics in the world for less than the value of a gram of cannabis! With some strains, you will be able to yield 900 grams per square meter! Buy good genetics. The rest, you can work other things out.
Acquiring Free Cannabis Seeds
The are many cannabis growers forums, and seedbanks, that offer competitions on a regular basis. You will be able to win free seeds, and sometimes even grow equipment.
Some forums, like ours, offer free seeds to members for "Grow Outs". This is when members of the grow room are all given free seeds to grow out at the same time. We all grow them how we like, in our own set ups, and share the results with each other.
There are many places you can get free cannabis seeds. We even give out free seeds from Percys Seed Vault to our most active members. You must be a Golden Key holder for this privilege.
The Cheapest Way to Grow Cannabis
Of course, growing outdoors, will be the cheapest way to grow cannabis. But it isn't as easy as you would think. It is illegal to cultivate cannabis in most countries around the world, so only grow outdoors if you are far away from other people.
Also, when growing cannabis outdoors, your plants will be more susceptible to pests, mold, and thieves.
You will also have less control over the environment. Growing outdoors, might be cheaper, but it comes with other issues.
For one, security. Cannabis plants are very pungent when they are flowering. Your neighbours may not appreciate the smell, and of course, if you're growing illegally, you could end up in trouble. You can hide the smell when growing indoors. It isn't so easy outside.
Growing Cannabis Outdoors
One of the biggest investments you will make when growing cannabis is on lighting. Not only are the initial setups expensive, but the running costs are not cheap either.
Obviously, growing outdoors, will remove the costs of grow lighting all together, as you will grow under the best light possible, the sun.
To grow outdoors, all you need is a good spot, that will collect a lot of sun during the day, but will receive no light during its dark hours (street lights, house lights). It should be out of the way of people, as you do not want anyone to find out about your plant.
If you have a suitable spot in mind, you should dig a hole around 50L deep, and fill it with high quality soil. This will provide your plant with plenty of good nutrients. It will also reduce the need for you to treat the soil with additives in the future. You could also use pots, instead of planting them into the ground.
For a full guide on growing cannabis outdoors, see this post below:
If spring is approaching, you should consider guerilla growing if you are on a low budget. All you will need is a seed, or a cutting, and a good secluded place to plant it.
It is still a good idea to dig a hole and fill it with some good soil. A guerrilla grow can start for less then the price of a gram of cannabis. But of course, the is a huge risk that the crop will not come to harvest. It could easily be discovered if you're not careful with the guerrilla spot you pick.
Growing Cannabis Indoors on a Budget
Most cannabis growers will grow indoors. This removes a lot of risks such as bugs, and predators eating your plants. It also gives you a lot more control over the plant environment. Your plant will be less vulnerable to detection, and it will be alot more secure, as you can keep it hidden.
No matter what, growing cannabis indoors is going to take some investment. It can not be done for free. There are ways of cutting costs for your first grow, and then, once you are no longer spending money on cannabis, you can upgrade your setup.
First off, we should discuss where you plants should live. You need a suitable light proof area, that can also bring in fresh air, and exhaust old stale air.
Budget Grow Tents
For most situations, a grow tent will be the best place for your cannabis plants to live. It will be light proof, have holes and vents for extraction, and the walls will be reflective.
There is a huge range of grow tents available, you can even buy a tent, and full extraction and lighting kit for less than the cost of an ounce of cannabis from the black market.
If you can afford to, buy a grow tent, even if it just a 60cm grow tent for now. You will be able to grow a couple of plants in there, and can upgrade in the future.
Building a Budget Grow Room
If a grow tent isn't within your budget, you may have to use your initiative and find a suitable place for you plants to grow, like a cupboard/ closet, chest of draws or even a PC tower.
The most important things to consider when building your own grow room is, where will air come from, and go to? Is there enough height for your lights, and plants to grow to at least a foot high? Is it secluded?
If you have a suitable place, then you will need to make the walls reflective. New growers will tend to use tin foil, not knowing that this is bad idea. using tin foil, will create heat pockets, and isn't very efficient at reflecting light.
For better results, paint the inside of your potential grow room a bright white. This is far more reflective than tin foil, and most houses will have a pot lying around somewhere. If not, a small pot of white paint is not expensive.
Grow Room Lighting
This is where the bulk of your investment will go. The light you chose will make a big difference in the overgrowth, and final yield of your plant. It can be tempting to buy cheap LED models from the internet, but a lot of them are not suited for growing cannabis.
If you are growing on a budget, I would suggest you still go for HID lighting. They are the most commonly used form of grow lighting, and will be the most cost effective. The initial cost isn't too much, but the running cost are higher than other forms of grow lighting like Quantum Board, or LEDS.
On the other hand, LED lights are more expensive on the initial investment, but cost less to run over time. Try and save up for a good light!
Growing cannabis with CFL's
Alternatively, when growing cannabis on a low budget, you can grow cannabis using standard household lighting known as CFL's. Using a few CFL's, in a small space, will still bring you a decent yield, but at a lower initial investment, and running cost.
The grow may take a little longer, as the plant will grow slower. But you can still grow high quality cannabis under CFL lighting. If you're really on a tight budget, and can only afford the bare minimums, this might be a good option for you.
Soil, or Hydro
With proper potting up technique, your plants will not need feeding for weeks if you choose to grow in soil. Growing hydroponically, and in coco, will mean you need to feed your plant straight away, and you will need high quality pH and EC meters. When you are growing cannabis on a low budget, you can miss out the EC meter. But you must be very light with the feeding, do not overfeed your plant.
Most growers will not exceed more than half of the manufacturers stated dosage. Most of these nutrients were originally made for growing vegetables and other plants. Cannabis eats far less than most plants do. Always go easy on the nutrients.
Growing Cannabis in Soils
If you buy a good soil, that is treated with a pH buffer, like dolomite lime, pH will be less of a problem. As long as your water source has a neutral pH, you will be fine without adjusting it.
You can find out what pH your water is, from you local water supplier. Alternatively, you can buy a pH testing kit, or meter.
Potting up in Soil
When you start your plants off in a small pot of soil, they will spread their roots out and use up what nutrients are available in the medium. These nutrients may last for a week, or anything up to 4 weeks. When the plant start to look pale, it is time to introduce nutrients to the medium.
You can delay the need to buy nutrients, by transplanting the plant into a bigger pot, with some fresh soil. This soil will have more nutrients for the plant to eat. You can do this all the way through the vegetative cycle, but it is best not to transplant when the cannabis plants are flowering. To feed your flowering cannabis plant, you will need some nutrients.
Nutrients for Growers on a Budget
By using the above technique, you will not need to feed your plants until they are flowering. You will only need to use water up until this point.
But as flowers start to grow, the plants will need more food. You will have to buy some nutrients at this point. There are many different brands out there, and there will be different ones available to you. You have to choose what's right for you. If you need help with the decision, then ask in our cannabis growers forum for what our members prefer.
If this isn't in your budget, then you can use the potting up technique to keep the plants feed, and when they flowering "top dress" the medium.
By using compost, worm castings, or other kind of organic foods, you can add more nutrients to the medium. Just add to the top, and water it into the soil.
As you will not using an EC meter for your grow, be very light on your feeding. It will be hard to tell if your plant is being over or under fed. But, it can still be done. If your plant suffers any issues during the grow, and you feel like you need help, go to the plant doctor section of our forum and ask for help there.
Extraction, and Airflow
Old stale air must be removed from the grow room. There is no way around it, your grow room needs extraction. The smaller your room is, the smaller extraction you will need.
You can use a cheap bathroom extractor for this, or, if you're growing in a PC tower, or small chest of drawers, you can use a PC fan to extract air. This will only be effective in very small, stealth grow room, with plants under LED or CFL lighting. If you're using HID lighting, you need a minimum of four inch extraction.
You will need a small fan to help air move around the grow room, and to blow the plants to build stronger branches. Even if it's one small fan, you need something to keep air moving, Stale pockets of air will bring mould and mildew. You must use a fan.
Buy cheap here at your own risk. It is vital that you cover the smell of your cannabis grow! A carbon filter will do that for you. It doesn't matter how small your crop is, even one plant will be very pungent when it is flowering.
If you are growing cannabis on a low budget, buy a 4 inch extractor, and a 4 inch carbon filter. There is no other way around this. You can build your own filter, but that will be unreliable and may be faulty. You can afford to take that risk.
Other Equipment for Growing Cannabis on a Budget
You should have a timer, that will switch your lights on and off automatically. But you can set an alarm, that will remind you to do it yourself, if you can't afford a timer.
Alternatively, if you grow "Autos" you can leave the light on for 24 hours a day. This will increase your energy bills. But reduce the need for a timer.
Hygrometer. This will show you the temperature and humidity of the grow room. It is important to know what environment your plants are living in. You can cut corners, and try to go without it. But look out for signs of heat stress.
Final Thoughts on Growing Cannabis on a Budget
It is nothing to be ashamed of, most growers will start with nothing, and it is a good way to start! You will have to learn more, and work with what you have.
For some people, it is a good idea to invest very little in the hobby to start with, as they may not enjoy it. You don't have to spend a fortune, you only have to get a small set up, and grow as your plants do.
Cannabis plants have grown in the wild for thousands of years, without any one spending a penny on them. All you need is the seed, and a good place to plant it. Growing cannabis on a low budget is more than possible.
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