RYOT’s Guide to Growing Cannabis on a Budget

RYOT’s Guide to Growing Cannabis on a Budget

Spring is in the air and it’s nearly time to begin planting our gardens. If you’re in a state where growing cannabis at home is legal, you should consider working on your green thumb and turning your yard into your own personal dispensary. Not only is it fun, but if you do it right, you can save a bit of money on green.

While an image search of “growing marijuana” might pull up thousands of pictures of high-tech labs, underground bunkers with hydroponic systems, and professional grow ops with thousands of plants, your home bud-tending will be a little simpler and far more rewarding. Check out our tips for getting started below.

Start out with auto-flowering strains.

While growing a big and bushy cannabis plant might look impressive, growing stems and seeds isn’t the purpose of growing cannabis for recreational or medical use. The product you’re really trying to grow and harvest is the flowers, which are used for smoking. For people new to growing cannabis, an auto-flowering strain will be the easiest to grow.

Unlike some strains, which require specific light/dark cycles to induce flowering, an auto-flowering strain will bloom on a set schedule, which depends on the strain. This simplifies the maintenance involved for growers to get the buds they’re after. It also allows you to grow outdoors in natural lighting, rather than indoors with a collection of grow lights that require time, energy, and money.

Save on soil by planting in the ground.

While many home gardeners invest in commercially prepared soils, they aren’t necessary in many areas of the country. Cannabis grows well in loamy soil, which is a mixture of sand, clay, and silt.

Ideally, your soil should be slightly acidic. If your backyard lacks any of these features, you can easily remedy that with ingredients that are inexpensive or even free. For example, dense clay soil can be loosened by adding sand, which can be found for free among neighbors, construction sites, etc. Similarly, alkaline soil can be remedied for free by adding coffee grounds to your soil. These can be collected from friends, family, or your local coffee shop. (They’ll often share them for free.) With a little creativity and legwork, you can create high-quality garden soil for next to nothing.

Make your own compost.

For our cannabis plants to grow and produce lots of flower buds, they need adequate nutrition. One of the best ways to provide that nutrition is by adding fertilizer and compost. While commercially prepared fertilizers are effective, they can also get expensive. Instead of buying a canister of chemicals, why not try composting your own fertilizer? All it takes is a corner of the backyard, some kitchen scraps, and yard trimmings.

You can read a full guide to composting here, but all composting really means is carefully controlling how your clippings and kitchen scraps rot. By building a bin and controlling the ratio of high-carbon material and high-nitrogen material, you can create a fertilizer that’s powerful, totally organic, and best of all, free to make.

Spreading your compost around your flower beds will give your plants plenty of nutrients to grow and produce flower buds. You can take it to the next level by taking advantage of earthworms. Either dig them up yourself or purchase them from a local supplier, and spread them among your fertilized garden beds.The worms will feast on your compost, then leave behind lots of worm castings, which will also fertilize the garden and naturally improve aeration.

Collect your own irrigation water.

While this tip can save money on water, you may need to check local ordinances. Collecting and saving water may be prohibited in your area, or require particular conditions to be met. If you’re not careful, you may face a stiff fine, which will undo all your savings.

Assuming you can collect rainwater in your area, using rain barrels and other collection systems can make it easy to collect water throughout the year, then use it on your garden throughout the growing system. These systems are quite simple, as you don’t need to maintain the water’s sanitation for drinking. You can simply store it for agricultural use. A barrel placed under a gutter is the simplest way to store water, and a 50 gallon barrel can water quite a few plants!

You can also collect and use greywater from laundry, washing dishes, and other chores and use it in the garden.

With a little planning, nothing goes to waste on our weed farm. Combining these collection techniques with drip irrigation, shade in the afternoon, and other measures can drastically reduce your water use, while keeping your plants happy and healthy.

Growing weed doesn’t have to be expensive, technologically advanced, or stressful. With a little time and elbow grease, you can create a gorgeous, fragrant garden in your own backyard.

If you need help figuring out what to do with all your bounty after the harvest comes, may we suggest checking out our pollen press? Or if you need a way to store all of your pretty flower, how about stash containers? Our smell proof cases don’t just keep the smells from getting out. They keep the flavor and goodness in—a perfect way to store weed while it cures for smoking.


Considering an easier path for growing cannabis outdoors? Test out auto-flowering strains. Trim expenses on soil by using sand and coffee grounds. Convert kitchen scraps into plant food. Economize water by collecting rain and repurposing laundry water for plants. Experiment with drip irrigation and shade to foster plant health and, possibly, cost savings.

4 Tips for Growing Cannabis on a Budget Infographic


RYOT’s Guide to Growing Cannabis on a Budget
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