How to grow weed on a budget
Growing cannabis can be a very high-tech and expensive endeavour, but it needn't be. With some DIY skills and a rummage through the cupboard, it's very possible to significantly reduce the cost of growing weed, without reducing the quality of your harvest.
If you’ve never grown cannabis before, everything about embarking on this adventure can feel daunting. Along with wondering how exactly to grow weed, you might well be wondering how much cultivating a crop is going to cost you.
In this article, we’ll show you that growing weed doesn’t need to cost too much, and that even those on a tight budget can get a successful grow up and running.
How much does it generally cost to grow cannabis?
It’s true that growing weed can easily become quite an expensive pursuit, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t know how to optimise resources. However, it needn’t be too expensive, and growing high-quality weed is certainly possible on a budget.
Generally, if you intend to grow weed indoors, you’re looking at a couple of hundred pounds minimum. A cheap and small grow tent will cost up to £100, but can be less. Small lights will be around £50. Then you have to buy seeds, pots, soil, fertiliser, and fans and exhaust systems.
If you’re really starting from scratch, you can likely get comfortably set up with around £300.
Growing cannabis outdoors is much cheaper, as you can forsake most of the equipment. If you want to save money and have the liberty to grow outdoors, then this is a very good choice. Outdoors, you can probably get a grow set up for under £50.
But if you’re on a very tight budget, you can do it much cheaper than this. The above figures will get you set up easily, using ready-made pieces of equipment. That said, it is possible to cut costs in various ways, such as by building parts yourself. Read on to find out how.
How to grow weed on a budget
The following sections will outline certain methods you can employ to make your grow more budget-friendly. Some of the methods will make the whole enterprise cheaper to set up, while others focus more on ensuring that you get the best results for the money you put in.
Sadly, there are no incredible hacks that make the entire pursuit free, but it is possible to trim costs down substantially if you’re willing to put in the effort.
And, as mentioned, if you can manage it, growing outdoors will be significantly cheaper.
Growing weed on a budget indoors
Growing weed indoors is always going to be more expensive than doing so outdoors. But it offers many advantages, and for some is the only available option. Although indoor grows may appear super high-tech, they’re often much simpler than they first appear. As such, your setup needn’t be too expensive.
Here’s what you can do to keep costs minimal.
Build a grow tent yourself
This is probably the best way to save money on an indoor grow setup. Grow tents are one of the more expensive pieces of equipment, yet one of the easiest to build yourself. For most people, building their own exhaust fan or light is out of the question, but nearly anyone can manage to build a grow tent.
Depending on what you have around you, it’s not too difficult to build a grow tent for next to nothing. They really don’t need to be high-tech; just strong enough to support lights and ventilation, and lined with a reflective material (which can be as cheap and simple as aluminium foil).
Retrofit a cupboard or closet
Following on from building your own grow tent, there’s an even easier and cheaper alternative: modify an existing cupboard or closet to make a mini grow room. These already have the right shape and size for growing cannabis, so all you need to do is insulate them with a reflective material, and create some means to rig lights and ventilation.
It’s also possible to hide a grow tent in a cupboard for stealth or space-saving reasons.
Use soil as your growing medium
For those on a budget, growing in soil is by far the best option. On top of being cheap, it is the easiest and most forgiving medium.
High-quality soil is relatively cheap and will last for an entire grow. What’s more, you can even enrich a basic soil to create highly optimised “super soil”. Super soil contains all of the necessary nutrients a cannabis plant needs to grow, from seedling to harvest, and doesn't require any extra fertiliser. As well as being very easy, super soil can shave off a few extra pounds.
If you’ve grown before, or have soil lying around, it’s possible to sterilise old soil and reuse it. But don’t just use any soil from the ground, as it may be inappropriate for cannabis. If you choose to reuse soil, it should be soil that was created for cultivating flowering plants.
Reused soil will need to have nutrients added to it in order to create a suitably rich environment, and you’ll need to ensure it has a pH level of between 6.0 and 7.0. This can be achieved by using a pH up or down solution.
Only use organic nutrients
It’s easy to associate the word “organic” with “expensive”, and this is often true. But when it comes to feeding cannabis, organic fertilisers can cut costs over time.
The reason for this is that they break down more slowly in the soil, and provide a continual, balanced supply of food for your plants. Synthetic fertilisers, on the other hand, offer immediate effects, but require regular administration.
Another benefit of growing organic weed is that organic fertilisers don’t cause salt buildup in the soil, which can stop the plant’s roots from properly uptaking feed. This means that, if using organic nutes, your plants are far more likely to grow healthily and deliver rewarding returns.
LED lights fall into a similar category as organic fertiliser: expensive at first, cheaper in the long run. This is even more true as energy prices increase.
LEDs are much more efficient compared to other grow lights, and as such use a fraction of the energy. You will very quickly notice the costs stacking up with, say, HPS grow lights. LEDs are unlikely to make much of an impact on your bills. Regarding cost saving, they are definitely a good investment.
What’s more, LEDs run cooler than other options, which means there’s less need to pump hot air out of your grow space to keep things cool. This also keeps running costs to a minimum, as extractor fans needn’t work as hard.
Another great aspect of LEDs is that they last for a very long time compared to other lights, which means that you can use the same set over and over again in future grows.
Buy the right fan
When it comes to choosing an extractor fan, you want one that’s just powerful enough, but nothing more.
Fans pull stale air out and fresh air in. For optimal growth, the air needs to be exchanged around 70 times per hour. Therefore, you need a fan with a capacity 70 times greater than the volume of your grow space.
For instance, if you’re growing in a space that measures 1 × 1 × 2m (with a total volume of 2m³), choose an extractor fan with a value of 140m³/h.
It’s important to get the smallest functional size, as bigger fans cost more money to buy and require more energy to run. So a smaller fan will save you money both at the beginning and throughout a grow.
Finally, if you’re really tight on money, it is possible to grow without a fan. But to do this, you will need to have the grow tent door open for most of the lights-on period. If the wider space is warm and has an appropriate humidity, this can be okay. Otherwise, it can be very detrimental.
And if you grow without an extraction system, be aware that it may smell!
Keep the temperature in check
Cannabis plants like an ambient temperature of around 23–28°C and a relative humidity of 60–70%.
If you’re on a budget, keep the temperature as low as possible (without stunting growth). Over a few months of growing, this can result in huge financial savings.
Use plant training techniques
Training techniques won’t actually save you money, but they will get you more bud for the money you put in—so this is somewhat of a bonus tip.
Simple training techniques essentially increase the amount of bud sites that are directly exposed to light. This in turn causes the development of more fat buds.
How much can you lower indoor cannabis growing costs?
You can probably reduce your indoor grow setup cost by at least £100 pounds if you’re dedicated and build the grow space yourself. And if you run LEDs, use the correct fans, and optimise the environment, you can go on to save a lot of money throughout the duration of the grow too.
And for your next indoor grow, setup costs will be almost nil!
Growing weed on a budget outdoors
As mentioned, growing weed outdoors is significantly cheaper from the get-go. But it’s still possible to cut costs more.
Grow auto strains
Autoflowering strains are great when it comes to growing outdoors, even though they’re often associated with indoor growing. These plants are very tough, which makes them more likely to make it to harvest, and make your initial investments worthwhile.
What’s more, auto strains are very fast; as such, it’s possible to get two or even three crops over the summer—all using the same pots, soil, and so on. This means that, instead of buying three pots and growing three plants, for example, you can buy three pots and harvest up to nine plants by late October.
For those who can’t invest much at first, autos offer a means to still grow a substantial number of plants outdoors.
Choose the right spot
Choosing the right spot won't make the initial investment cheaper, but it will make it more valuable. You want plants to be exposed to lots of sunlight—but not too much.
For instance, young plants should be kept out of the strongest midday sun, and all plants should be kept in fairly sheltered spaces. High wind and heavy rain will stress plants, and can have an adverse effect on yields.
Keeping plants out of excessive sun will also stop the soil from drying out too quickly, which will save on water. Water may not be the most expensive resource for most, but it’s about as valuable as they come. Therefore, even if you don’t pay for your water, it’s worth conserving as much as possible.
Grow organically and sustainably
When it comes to outdoor growing, organic and sustainable methods can be very cheap. This is for two main reasons.
First, if you have a flower bed, you can plant directly in the soil. This saves money on pots, soil (if the current soil is appropriate), and shouldn’t require much in the way of nutrients.
Second, if you have space for a compost heap, then this means you can provide your plants with a brilliant organic food source—one you can create for free. This will take a little preparation, though, if you don’t already compost your waste. A compost heap takes a few months to decompose enough to be used to feed plants, so get started now!
Use good soil
Using really good soil can save you money on nutrients later down the line. For instance, enriching soils with worm castings can help to keep your plants fed throughout their entire life cycle.
Not only can good soil save you money, but it will lead to healthier plants and make the experience of cultivation significantly easier.
Grow in hay
Finally, you can grow in old hay bales. Especially if you live somewhere rural, you can usually find these for free, or very cheap.
To grow in hay, make space in the middle and fill this with soil, and plant your cannabis in here. The hay casing will help to keep moisture trapped in and, as it breaks down, will feed your plants. Therefore, using hay bales to grow saves on both pots and fertiliser.
Growing cannabis on a budget: Extra tips
With what we’ve covered so far, here are some tips to keep front of mind when planning your budget-friendly grow:
- Use the resources at your disposal: If you already have something that can do the job, use it!
- Be conservative with fertiliser: Cannabis plants can thrive with very little food, so use this to your advantage.
- Don’t buy unnecessary equipment.
- Buy from good brands, but keep things simple.
- Train plants for bigger yields.
- Use your ingenuity!
Now, let’s move on to some final tips to make your entire operation more rewarding and inexpensive.
Choose the right seeds
A big part of maximising any grow, large or small, is to select the right genetics for the job. When making a purchase, it’s crucial to choose high-quality seeds that are more or less guaranteed to germinate and display healthy growth.
Now, in order to get the best bang for your buck, consider picking fast-growing, high-yielding varieties that are hardy and easy to care for. These offer the greatest chance of success for the time, money, and energy you have to give.
With that in mind, further below are three of our favourite high-quality, but cheap, cannabis seeds.
If you’ve got some great photoperiod plants growing, and you think you want more, why not take some cuttings and grow clones? Or maybe a friend will let you borrow some of theirs?
In any case, clones bypass the initial cost of seeds, make the grow cycle a little quicker, and could help you save some money by avoiding the use of starter kits or propagation chambers.
Use the whole cannabis plant
When harvest time arrives, don’t discard everything but the buds. There is something to be done with all parts of the plant, and, as you’ve been growing it for months, you may as well use it.
Perhaps the best option is to use the trimmings to make cannabutter or hash. This way, you’ll be able to stretch out your stash to last longer than if you were to use buds alone.
Reuse as much as possible
It goes without saying, but if you have pieces of equipment lying around, use them! When we begin a new and exciting enterprise, it’s easy to get carried away and think that we need a whole array of brand new equipment to get the best results. But often, we have what we need just beneath our noses.
So before buying new equipment, take stock of what you have.
As mentioned, old soil can be reused. However, you will need to remove any old roots and sterilise the substrate. Still, this is a perfectly viable method. Once it’s clean, you can enrich it with nutrients once more, and use it again.
Most plant pots and growing containers can be reused. If you already have some, don’t go out and buy more; just work with what you have!
We would all like to use the best fabric pots—and they do offer advantages. But if you already have ceramic or plastic pots in your house or garden, you can save a lot of money by using them.
Cannabis growing tools
Much like with pots, use the growing tools you have available. Already have a pair of decent scissors? Clean them and use them to harvest. Do you really need new grow tent equipment, or do you have some duct tape hiding in a cupboard somewhere?
You may not make massive savings with these steps, but they will nevertheless make a difference.
Finally, as mentioned, reuse your organic waste by making your own compost.
Alongside saving a lot of money, there’s something quite cathartic about slowly watching your food waste break down into highly useful compost for your garden. So try it out!
Can you grow cannabis indoors without a tent?
If you’re really on a budget but can only grow indoors, you can simply grow in a pot on the windowsill. You will probably find that the results aren’t so brilliant, but it will definitely be cheaper than using a tent and lights.
For this, pick your sunniest window and a robust autoflowering strain.
The 3 best cannabis strains for growing on a budget
Finally, with the methods and tips out of the way, here are our top three strains for growing marijuana on a budget.
Blueberry is an indica-dominant hybrid whose (metaphorical) roots extend at least as far back as the 1970s.
This fruity strain offers reliable growth and an array of effects that range from euphoria to stoned relaxation. With around 20% THC, it’s potent without being over the top, and this makes it a great choice for those who like to smoke but don’t want to always be as stoned as possible.
Cheese is a UK classic that comes from Skunk #1. What do both of these names imply? That this is a stinky strain. And it’s true! Expect heavy, dank tones and, of course, that famous cheesiness.
With 50% indica and 50% sativa genetics, it’s a well-balanced strain that offers euphoric but chill highs. In terms of growing, it’s hardy and pest resistant, making it an easy choice for beginners. One thing to be aware of, though—this strain has a strong pong, so it’s worth investing in a carbon filter if you intend to grow it indoors.
3. Auto Critical Orange Punch
Auto Critical Orange Punch is more modern that the other two strains, and comes with the bonus of autoflowering genetics. Ready in a total of 11 weeks, this strain is fast, and you can squeeze at least two crops into a single summer season.
An indica-sativa-ruderalis hybrid, expect tough growth and balanced effects. As the name suggests, the flavours are rich and fruity!
Growing weed doesn’t have to break the bank
Growing weed at home can be done cheaply. And if you’re careful, this needn’t come at the expense of quality or yield.
The main takeaways are to build whatever you can yourself, and to reuse anything you might have lying around already. These two money-saving tips are by far the most effective, and contain a certain degree of satisfaction too.