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How to Grow Your Own Cannabis for $200 Start Up

Yes, it is possible to grow cannabis on a budget. Growing, curing and keeping your own cannabis is a very rewarding hobby, especially if you are doing it so you can have your own supply. Just like with every other hobby, cultivating your own cannabis also comes with costs; and unfortunately, some growers don’t have deep enough pockets to help them afford certain materials and equipment.

The good news is you can still grow your own weed without having to spend a king’s ransom. Recent advancements in the 420 industry have helped reduce the cost of cultivating your own plants.

Download Our 7 Page Guide to Growing Cannabis

For a long time, growing cannabis has been associated with high costs, often hindering many cannabis enthusiasts from pursuing this hobby. They often think of high electricity bills because of grow-lights and having to spend a minimum of $60 for a bag of cannabis seeds. Fear not, because the current market has plenty of budget-friendly options!

These days you can find small, self-contained units and machines that will grow your cannabis for you from start to finish, and you won’t even realize that it’s there. Such advancements help bring down the costs associated with growing marijuana and open new doors for more conventional cultivation.

What You Need to Grow Cannabis on a Budget

There are many factors involved in growing cannabis. In this article, we examine how you can grow weed on a budget. Before we go on, here is a checklist of things you need to grow cannabis successfully indoors:

    • Space to build your grow room. Most start with a space of 3 feet by 3 feet, or approximately 1 meter squared.
    • Cannabis seeds.
    • A grow tent, preferably with reflective walls.
    • Lights. LED lights are more expensive initially, but can ultimately save money in terms of power consumption.
    • Minimum light wattage needed for the flowering period is 300 watts, but 400 watts is recommended. Higher wattage lamps cost more and can be more difficult to cool down. Unless you have such equipment, higher wattages can prove to be a negative return.
    • Plant pots of various sizes, so you can transfer to bigger pots as the plant gets bigger and the roots start to grow more vigorously.
    • Soil (hydroponic grows can be more expensive and need more plant feed).
    • Plant feed (remember: less is more when doing soil grows, and no feed at all is necessary for about 6 weeks, as soil contains most nutrients needed).
    • A fan to circulate heat and air around the grow room. You will need an exhaust and intake fan in order to draw air in and expel it out.
    • Thermometer – you want the temperature in the grow room to stay stable at around 26 degrees Celsius or 79 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day.
    • A platform to keep your pots raised from the floor of the grow room. A simple crate will suffice.
    • Carbon filters to help get rid of the smell. For small grows, one is usually enough.
    Download Free Beginner’s Guide to Growing Cannabis

    Many of these items can be expensive when bought new and, except where necessary, we recommend buying most of the above second-hand if you want to keep costs to below $200. There are many growers and ex-growers wanting to get rid of equipment they no longer need, especially if their operations are expanding or if they’re moving. Checking out classified advert and auction websites can help save a pretty penny, and for beginner growers can be a better investment.

    If you are looking to buy all the above brand new, expect total costs to run to about $400 – $500 minimum (realistically about $600 – $800 for a 3 x 3 grow space requiring a tent and some 400-watt lights). If most of the above is bought second-hand, or if you buy a small, self-contained unit with most of the above included, you are looking at a total cost of $200 – $300. In terms of height, it is recommended that you have 6 – 8 feet of vertical space, especially if you are planning to grow sativas. However, you can train your plants to grow smaller and have a height of around 4 – 5 feet, especially if you are growing indica plants. In such a small space, it is recommended to flower using lower wattage lights to prevent burnout, so 250 watts is OK.

    Electricity costs are also important to consider. During the vegetative stage, under 200 watts of light (many go for 100 – 120 watts) for between 18 and 24 hours a day should suffice. For the flowering stage, 12 hours of dark and 12 hours of light is needed. Most would recommend that the vegetative stage last between 2 weeks and one month to ensure the establishment of a healthy root system. Flowering times for most indicas are 7 – 9 weeks, hybrids 8 – 10 weeks and sativas 10 – 14 weeks. Ruderalis plants can go straight into 12 hours of light and 12 of dark with no vegetative period. If you are using 400 watt or 600-watt lights, expect the cost to be between $45 and $60 per month for a 3 x 3 grow space, depending upon where you live. You can see a breakdown and method of determining electricity costs here.

    Author: MOCA Cannabis; Source

    It is also important to do your research and get a grasp of how to grow cannabis. While many things about growing cannabis are best learnt through hands-on experience, it is worth watching videos from people who have experience in cultivating marijuana and can give valuable advice for those starting out. Jorge Cervantes’ videos are an excellent place to begin.

    The Importance of Cannabis Genetics

    It’s easy for one to think that in order to grow weed for less than $200, you will need to purchase cheap seeds. This is wrong because the seeds are where you should be putting a good proportion of your total spend limit. Investing in seeds that possess quality genetics can help you go a long way in preserving the health of your plants. This is true even if you go with low-quality products right around the later parts of the plant’s growth cycle.

    Going for autoflowering genetics can also help you save. In most cases, auto plants start flowering 2 to 3 weeks after germination. Unlike photoperiod plants, autos don’t rely on a certain number of hours of light to grow, as their flowering period is determined by age, not light. Autos will go from seed to harvest in a faster amount of time, thus saving indoor growers plenty of money along the way. You essentially cut away the vegetative period of the plant by going the autoflowering route, which can save time and money.

    Autoflowering plants are also adapted to grow in cold climates, so can withstand colder temperatures. Many are hybridized so as to ensure vigor and develop mold, mildew and pest resistance to a certain degree. This can be very useful for beginners, those growing in unforgiving climates, those who need a fast turnover of plants, and those who are guerilla growing. Another option is to buy cuttings from dispensaries, which can also eliminate the vegetative part of the cycle and ensure some good-quality genetics.

    There are a few issues with autoflowering plants. Many come in feminized form only meaning that, if you want to produce and breed your own seeds, this is not easily possible with feminized autoflowering seeds (although non-feminized autoflowering plants can be bred with one another for seeds). Another common complaint is that autoflowering strains have lower yields, although this is starting to change with better breeding techniques. Lower THC (but higher CBD) content is also common in autoflowering plants. As experience of growing improves, many growers go for a mixture of regular and autoflowering strains to take advantage of both types of cannabis plant.

    Author: Ryan Bushby; Source

    However, you do not have to necessarily spend huge amounts to get good genetics. Be wary of breeders and seed companies "overcharging" for their seeds. It is also worth researching the seed’s genetics, background and checking out forums for other growers’ experiences. Sometimes, you can have an otherwise excellent company selling a strain that isn’t well-tested for consistency, meaning the end product may be disappointing. This can be avoided by going for a strain that has a background of "tried, tested and true" genetics such as Skunk #1, Blueberry, Northern Lights and Haze.

    Some of the more trustworthy of the mainstream breeders include Mr. Nice Seeds, TGA Subcool, Cali Connection, DJ Short, Serious Seeds, Dr. Atomic Seeds, Mandala Seeds, Underground Originals and some others. They tend to sell good genetics at a reasonable range of prices.

    And when it comes to seeds, you can’t do better than HomeGrown Cannabis Co.

    Essentials for Your Cannabis Grow Room

    Now we move on to another important aspect of cannabis growing: The Grow Room. Your grow space has to be properly set up to give your plant a place where it can have the nourishment it needs. Growing cannabis indoors is often a more expensive endeavor than growing it outdoors, so we’re going to be looking into the essentials of every indoor grow space. However, there are still advantages to growing indoors vs. outdoors. Pests are less of a worry, you are less at the mercy of the elements, and there is much less worry about law enforcement and thieves.

    Author: Plantlady 223; Source. This is a hydroponic growing system.

    Cannabis Grow Lights

    Cannabis needs light in order to grow, and a grow room without a light source shouldn’t even be called a "grow room" at all because no plants will ever grow in it. Indoor lighting setups can be quite expensive because they have to mimic the energy that the sun produces. The cost becomes even greater when you are growing multiple plants.

    However, there are still options that will let you save on your lights. For starters, you can purchase used lamps. You will only need to spend money on new bulbs. You can purchase reflectors and lamps on websites like eBay that can perform just as well as brand new models.

    If you want to save on your electricity bill you can always opt for LED lights, but take note that these are going to be your most expensive option. There are also fluorescent bulbs that are cheaper than LED but consume more power. What’s more, you’re going to change the bulb types once the plant transitions from its vegetative cycle to flowering.

    Don’t lose hope though because there are plenty of affordable LED lights available that cost less than $90. As a grower, it will be up to you to do some research on which affordable LED lights would work best for your grow room and give you the best value for your money.

    Heat and Air Circulation in a Cannabis Grow Room

    One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy growing environment for your plants is air circulation. The lights in a grow room will release heat, and your plants are going to transpire every day. Therefore, it is important for you to constantly bring in fresh air into your grow space and let the stale air out. A small amount of air passing through the grow room will also help strengthen the plant’s stalk, through a mechanism called "passive ventilation".

    For this, you will need to invest in some reliable exhaust and intake fans. eBay and other similar websites sell second-hand fans for under $20, and you can even make a carbon filter to keep the smell at a minimum.

    Once you start to simulate the nighttime environment, your grow space will start to cool down, so for this, you will need to have extra heating. Investing in extra heating equipment may seem costly, but it is a worthwhile investment because of how much it can benefit your plants once they are needed. There are websites that sell heating equipment for less than $100, but make sure to research their quality before purchasing.

    Reflective Walls in a Cannabis Grow Room

    To make sure that your grow room is getting the most out of the lights, you’ll need to set up some reflective walls. Also known as reflectors, these will bounce the light all across the room so they can reach every part of your plant. This has the potential to give you better yields while still using the same amount of lamps.

    One simple and budget-friendly solution is to purchase a grow tent. These can be purchased for less than $100. Grow tents are usually water-sealed and airtight and are very practical setups that can easily fit in most grow rooms.

    Marijuana Indoor Grow Room Hemp Pot Cannabis. Source

    Growing Cannabis on a Budget

    So, who says you need to spend a fortune to start growing cannabis? With our tips, not only will you be able to grow your own marijuana plants, but you’ll be saving some money at the same time. If you’d like to know more about the laws on growing cannabis, check out the Leafwell state guide to growing marijuana.

    Also, connect with one of Leafwell’s cannabis physicians today if you’d like to obtain a medical marijuana card.

    Growing Massive

    Butsch of Massive Seeds and Roganja, believes organic farming helps produce a top-shelf crop, but he admits that the microclimate in Southern Oregon really allows the plants to thrive. Photos by Pete Alport.

    Peter Butsch and his brother, Paul, have been growing cannabis in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley for as long as they can remember. They originally learned the secrets of organic-style cannabis farming from their father, who had grown marijuana on the property since the 1970s, and they’ve been carefully refining those techniques for years to create a sustainable, top-shelf product.

    “I know every farmer thinks they grow the best weed — and I do too,” Peter Butsch says, laughing at his own boldness.

    But no one can blame Butsch for his obvious bias. After all, he knows the time and energy required to grow his delectable crop and he understands the minute details that went into the cultivation process at Roganja, a state-licensed producer in the heart of Oregon’s cannabis country.

    Roganja uses green manure that includes daikon radishes and fava beans to prepare the soil.

    Green Manure

    Healthy soil is the lifeblood of any organic farming operation.

    But truly organic, living soil can’t be created overnight. It often takes years of properly developing the soil to create the right microbial balance. At Roganja, this ongoing process ramps up in early March when Butsch plants a cover crop of legumes, beans, peas and radishes. The daikon radishes and fava beans are particularly important at this stage, he says.

    The daikon radish roots act like “thousands of drills in the soil” and provide necessary aeration. The fava bean roots extend six feet deep into the soil, helping translocate deeply buried nutrients closer to the surface.

    The nitrogen-fixing cover crop was planted March 1, then chopped down about three months later. While some farmers prefer to harvest their cover crops and leave the plant material on top of the soil, Butsch cuts down the plants and reincorporates the “green manure” into the soil. He tills the field and integrates the decomposing cover crop into the native dirt. The process adds biomass and helps the beneficial bacteria and fungi thrive. It also produces naturally occurring fulvic acid, a common element in organic farming that helps with nutrient uptake.

    “The plants just love that fulvic acid,” Butsch says.

    Roganja is allowed up to 40,000 square feet of canopy.

    Growing from Seed

    While the cover crop grows outdoors, Roganja raises cannabis seedlings in a nursery greenhouse that doesn’t use artificial light. About 90% of the company’s plants are started from seed rather than clones.

    This year, seeds were planted March 7 and transplanted into Southern Oregon’s great outdoors in May and June. A small amount of potting soil mixed with the native soil helps ease the transition, Butsch says.

    Throughout the season, a wide array of organic nutrients are used to bolster the plants as needed, including crab, fish and kelp amendments, as well as llama and chicken manure. Butsch believes diversity is key in organic farming.

    “The more diversity you bring in, the more nutrients are available to the plants,” he says.

    The company has had some lab tests done on soil in the past, but most of the amendments are based on intuition, Butsch says. It’s a skill that’s been honed over the years of learning the microclimate and the region’s soil.

    The result is an “indoor-quality” flower produced in a sustainable, low-impact manner and currently carried by about 30 Oregon retail shops. Meanwhile, the Butsch brothers also run Massive Seeds, a separate brand focused on genetics.

    Because all adults in Oregon are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use, 10-packs of Massive Seeds are available at about 15 retail outlets and the company also sells some seeds to other commercial farmers.

    Look to La Luna

    Using the cycle of the moon could be a pathway to more productive plants, but scientists tend to be skeptical

    By Garrett Rudolph

    How do most outdoor growers determine when to plant their cannabis crops?

    Like many elements of the marijuana industry, the answer varies widely from one cultivator to the next. While some stick to a set date at the beginning of the season, others rely heavily on intuition or they’ll follow an agricultural calendar of projected “frost-free days.”

    And some growers abide by a higher power: the waxing and waning of the moon, a technique as old as farming itself and one with just as many fervent followers as it has science-based skeptics.

    The concept is that the moon’s gravitational pull impacts moisture in plants, the soil and water table, so planting at the optimal phase helps produce healthier crops and larger yields.

    Adding another layer to the complexity of the subject is that while most lunar planting calendars list favorable planting dates for a wide range of flowers and vegetables, cannabis is, not surprisingly, absent from most lists. That means growers who want to plant based on the cycle of the moon would have to find a comparable plant to use as a guideline or refine their own schedule through years of experience.

    According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, annual flowers and above-ground vegetables should be planted during the waxing of the moon (from the day it is new to the day it is full). The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s lunar calendar divides North America into four regions. Southern California and Florida are Area 1; Northern California and the majority of Washington and Oregon are classified as Area 2; Colorado, New England and Southern Canada are Area 3; Northern Canada is Area 4.

    So for example, the “moon favorable” planting dates for tomatoes in Area 2 are March 27 to April 11, while spring wheat in the same region would be April 26 to May 7.

    Flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers and below-ground vegetables should be planted during the moon’s dark cycles (waning).

    However, in a 1991 New York Times article, Cynthia Rosenzweig, an agronomist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, called the benefits of lunar planting schedules “mythology”.

    “There has to be a physical reason why the moon’s different phases would affect soil properties, soil temperature, moisture content, precipitation, which are the actual physical factors that make seeds germinate,” she told The Times. “And that isn’t documentable.”

    Frank Abramopoulos, an astrophysicist interviewed in the same Times article, echoed Rosenzweig’s outlook on the subject.

    “The tidal force — the gravitational pull of the moon — would be there, but at a level smaller than would affect any biochemical processes,” he said.

    1 – Marc Cathey, the former director of the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., was also interviewed for the Times article and said lunar planting connects modern farmers with their forebears who had to rely substantially more on weather patterns — but today’s technology and genetic improvements have lessened Mother Nature’s stranglehold over successful crop production.

    “These things like planting by the zodiac and the phases of the moon were based on close observations of periods of chill and clouds and exposure to light and the ups and downs of barometric pressure,” he said. “But they were damped out by sprinklers and fertilizer and peat moss and tomato seeds that germinate so well, every dadgum one comes up.”

    Yet, thousands of gardeners — both of the hobbyist and commercial variety — swear by the lunar calendar.

    It’s more about the fact that planting by the moon does work — for one reason or another — not about how it works.

    “While science may not fully understand why planting by the moon works, anecdotal evidence suggests that it does,” Richard Telford wrote for the Permaculture Research Institute in a 2015 article on the organization’s website.

    Planting by the cycle of the moon is one of the oldest techniques in farming.

    Lunar-Powered

    Roganja embraces another technique that separates it from other cannabis producers: using the cycles of the moon to determine its planting schedule.

    It means the growers have to pay close attention to the waxing and waning of the moon, and you’re more likely to find a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac being used around the Jackson County farm than you are one of the dozens of marijuana growing guides published by self-proclaimed experts.

    At first blush, it might sound like hippie pot grower folk lore, but farmers have been using agricultural astrology for thousands of years.

    Butsch says the difference can be seen in the “overall vigor” of the plants.

    “The weather patterns seem to follow the moon cycles,” he adds. “It always seems that a nice rain will fall right after planting.”

    The METRC system has been “kind of a nightmare” for farms that use a multi-harvest strategy, Butsch says.

    Operations

    Roganja and Massive Seeds have transitioned from Oregon’s medical program into the state’s emerging recreational market. As a Tier II outdoor grow, the company is allowed up to 40,000 square feet of canopy.

    While many growers have struggled with Oregon’s strict pesticide regulations, Butsch says he likes that the state implemented such a rigorous set of guidelines.

    Roganja and Massive Seeds have received the Certified Kind stamp of approval, meaning they do not use chemical pesticides and follow standards that closely mirror the USDA’s National Organic Program.

    However, Oregon’s seed-to-sale tracking requirements have been a different story. Using Franwell’s METRC system has been “kind of a nightmare,” Butsch says.

    While the program itself works fine, Butsch says it wasn’t really built for farms like Roganja, which uses a multi-harvest strategy, cutting down the top colas early and letting the rest of the plant continue to develop. The company may harvest a single plant multiple times, making it extremely costly and time consuming to track every gram from every plant with METRC during a process that may take a month or more.

    “I think there’s a better way to still have oversight, but put a little more trust in people,” Butsch says.

    Legendary Microclimate

    While the Butsch brothers deserve their share of credit for Roganja’s quality crops, they acknowledge Mother Nature’s role in creating some of the country’s finest cannabis.

    The Roganja and Massive Seeds gardens are located in a five-acre irrigated pasture on a 30-acre plot of land in Jackson County. It’s situated in one of the hottest parts of the Rogue Valley, and the Butsch brothers have been breeding strains specifically acclimated to the hot, dry, Upper Rogue microclimate that generally works well for sativas. Strains like Rogue Valley Wreck, Lemon Pineapple and Pineapple Pomegranate have thrived in the area.

    Roganja has helped Portland State University with a study of Oregon’s cannabis terroirs and how genetic traits are adapted to geographical regions. Early research indicates six or seven different unique terroirs in Southern Oregon.

    Butsch believes quality of the final product is the combination of well-suited genetics, the Rogue Valley’s legendary microclimate and use of organic farming practices.