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Basic Cannabis Growing Setups for Cultivators With Tight Budgets

Many home growers wonder, “Can I grow cannabis on a tight budget?” The simple answer is yes. Although there is a large industry built upon expensive grow equipment, cannabis can be produced with simple systems for less money than you might think. You can, of course, purchase additional tools and equipment to improve your garden, but many of these are not required.

Cannabis requires sunlight, nutrients, water, and air to grow. These four essentials are readily available for free or at relatively low costs. Climate control equipment, lights, and electricity make indoor growing vastly more expensive than growing outdoors, where cannabis can grow freely under the sun. However, because not everyone can grow cannabis outdoors for legal or climate reasons, we’ll share budget-friendly tips for both indoor and outdoor setups.

Selecting Quality Cannabis Genetics

To a first-time grower or a tight-budget cultivator, cannabis seeds and clones may seem costly, but they’re expensive for good reason. Quality genetics take years to develop and stabilize. You won’t grow quality cannabis without quality seeds or starts. Do some research and find seeds that match your budget and also give you an end product you’re excited about.

A Low-Cost Indoor Cannabis Garden

To grow on a budget indoors, you must keep it simple. The space you grow in should be small; this means using a 400- or 600-watt light in a 3’x3’ to 4’x4’ space.

What You’ll Need:

  • Lights (bulbs and hood): $200-$400
  • Soil: $60
  • Carbon air filter and high-velocity fan: $100
  • Fan (oscillating): $40
  • 6-inch fan ducting: $20
  • Climate monitor: $20
  • Light timer: $20
  • Nutrients: $50-$100

Approximate Total Cost: $510-$780

Your grow room should be thoroughly cleaned and properly sealed off. Mount a few simple oscillating fans directed at the plants as well as a high-velocity fan to pull air through the light hood and into your carbon air filter. Once your fans and your lights are set up, transplant your starts into pots filled with a quality soil blend. From this point, simply water your plants as needed, control the light cycle, and feed your plants intermittently and soon you’ll have healthy plants to harvest.

The most important thing to consider as an indoor budget cultivator is your availability to monitor the garden to make sure the plants are healthy. Check in on them multiple times a day to water, prune, and trellis as needed.

To get an idea of the specific costs associated with growing indoors, check out this article which outlines some price breakdowns.

A Low-Cost Outdoor Cannabis Garden

Outdoor farming is where the budget grower prevails. Pending you live in a climate where cannabis can be grown outdoors, you’ll be able to produce quality buds for next to nothing. If your climate is not ideal, there are still options available to aspiring outdoor budget growers.

What You’ll Need:

  • Soil: $100
  • Water: cost varies
  • Nutrients: $100
  • Garden stakes/trellising: $50

Approximate Total Cost: $250 or less

Because your costs will be minimal, don’t skimp on quality soil. Do your research and talk to grow supply stores in your region to find a product that will help keep your plants growing strong. Alternatively, you can “build” low-cost soil by adding amendments, which can save you money while letting you customize a blend for your garden specifically.

You’ll also need to provide an adequate water supply to keep your plants happy. The cheapest way to water your plants is by hose, while a more expensive method involves installing a drip system.

Depending on your soil quality, you may need to introduce additional nutrients for a larger, healthier yield. As the buds gain weight, you may also need to invest in garden stakes and trellising to support the branches.

Finally, if your climate isn’t ideal for cannabis, you can still successfully grow outdoors. Building a simple hoop house allows you to increase the temperature, reduce the climate impacts, control the length of the season, and still produce quality buds for a low cost. Hoop houses are the cheapest form of greenhouses, and they’re generally built with 2x4s, PVC, and plastic tarp, allowing you to customize the shape and size to fit your needs. Just be attentive to the temperature in your hoop house by “burping” (i.e. opening up the sides) it as needed and by installing high-velocity fans to keep fresh air moving through the enclosed space.

Growing cannabis can be a relaxing and simple process that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. After cultivating on a budget, you’ll discover whether growing cannabis is simply a hobby or a skill worth investing in more advanced tools and systems.

Trevor Hennings's Bio Image
Trevor Hennings

Trevor is a freelance writer and photographer. He has spent years in California working in the cannabis industry.

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