When you embark on your weed-growing journey, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to grow outdoors under the sun or indoors under a light. Both are viable options with their own unique perks and challenges; below we’ll walk you through both setups to help you choose what’s best for you.
An Introduction to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation
There are many benefits to growing cannabis outdoors. First and foremost, you’ll be working with the best light source there is; the sun. There’s simply no grow light on the market like it, and it’s completely free to use, whereas setting up and running an indoor grow room/tent can quickly become very expensive.
Most importantly, growing cannabis outdoors is a lot less hands-on than growing it indoors, making it a great place to start for first-time growers. As you’ll see later on this chapter, indoor growing requires you to carefully measure and control variables like temperature, humidity, and airflow, which can be overwhelming for beginners and leaves a lot more room for error.
However, that’s not to say that outdoor growing comes without its challenges. Outside, your plants are completely exposed to the elements. Strong winds, extended periods of rain, drought, and pests all pose serious risks to your plants and can dramatically impact the amount of weed you harvest and its quality. Growing outdoors also means you’ll be restricted by cannabis’ natural growing season, which runs from Spring through to Autumn (unless you live close to the equator, where you might be able to grow certain strains all year round).
Here are a few things you’ll need to consider to see if outdoor growing is right for you:
- What’s the climate like in your area? Cannabis likes warm daytime temperatures between 20–30°C (or 70–85°F) and cool nighttime temperatures of roughly 15-20°C (or 59-68°F). High humidity and rainfall or extended droughts can lead to pest problems, while strong winds can damage your crops.
- Do you have a sunny place to keep your plants? Cannabis is a sun-loving plant, and while some people attest to having grown it on windowsills and shady balconies, most growers agree that cannabis plants need at least 6 hours of undisturbed direct sunlight to grow healthily and produce good buds.
- Do you have the space for an outdoor garden? Outdoor cannabis plants grow best in large containers (anywhere from 25-50l) and can grow to heights of up to 2m (depending on the strain and amount of space available). In general, we recommend finishing your plants in 25-30l pots and keeping them roughly 1m apart to ensure they stay healthy. Plants grown in a crowded garden have to compete for light and space, causing them to stretch and develop long, flimsy stems and poorly structured buds. Lack of airflow and touching foliage in a crowded garden can also lead to humidity problems and pest issues.
- Is it legal to grow cannabis outdoors where you live? If not, consider investing in a more discrete indoor garden.
What you need to start an outdoor cannabis garden:
- Cannabis seeds. We recommend beginners grow no more than 3 plants at a time and avoid planting Sativa-dominant strains, which tend to grow much taller and take much longer to flower.
- Pots. For each plant, you’ll want:
- 1 x starter pot. A 0.5l plastic cup will work perfectly.
- 1 x 5l pot for the early vegetative phase
- 1 x 15l pot for the rest of the vegetative phase.
- 1 x finishing pot. 25-30l pots work great for most medium-sized strains.
- Soil, fertilizers, and pesticides. Later on in this grow guide, we’ll teach you how to buy or make the perfect cannabis soil, properly use both organic and chemical fertilizers, and how to protect your plants against common cannabis pests.
- Pruning scissors, gloves, buckets, and other generic gardening equipment.
An Introduction to Indoor Cannabis Cultivation
Indoor growing is very popular, and for a very good reason; it gives you complete control over the lighting, temperature, humidity, air circulation, and even CO2 levels in your garden, allowing you to create the perfect environment for your plants all year round.
Many growers find that, with so much control over the environment, they are able to grow healthier plants that produce bigger yields and more potent buds. Pest problems are also far less common indoors, given you keep the conditions in your grow room/tent optimal and clean.
This level of control, however, also comes at a cost (both literally and figuratively). To grow cannabis indoors, you’ll need:
- A grow tent or room to house your plants. Cannabis plants need strict light and dark periods in order to grow healthily and flower properly. Grow tents/rooms help contain the light from your lamps and also help prevent light leaks from outside stressing your plants during their dark periods.
- A grow light. Cannabis plants need light to photosynthesize and grow.
- Fans. Your plants need a constant supply of fresh air in order to respire. Most growers will use a combination of intake and wall-mounted fans to draw fresh air into their tent/room and keep it circulating around their plants.
Setting up an indoor grow tent/room isn’t cheap, and learning how to keep it at optimal conditions also isn’t easy. While we love indoor growing, we often recommend beginners grow at least 1 or 2 harvests outdoors before moving their garden indoors.
Here are a few things you’ll need to consider to see if indoor growing is right for you:
- Do you have the money to set up and run an indoor tent/room? Below you’ll find a cost sheet to help you get an idea of the price of buying and running basic grow equipment like lights and fans.
- Do you have the space for an indoor garden? You’ll need to buy/build a grow tent or transform a cupboard, spare room, or other space inside your home into a grow room to house your plants. For most hobby growers, a 1m2 grow tent/room will provide enough space for 1-3 plants, which will produce more than enough regular weed for even daily smokers.
- Do you have the time and will to dedicate to an indoor garden? Growing cannabis indoors requires you to manage all the environmental variables that affect the growth of your plants. While it’s far from rocket science, running an indoor garden is usually more hands-on than tending to plants outdoors.
Equipment list and cost sheet for an indoor grow room:
|Equipment||Examples||Outright cost (w/out shipping)||Total running cost (from seed to harvest)**|
|Grow tent||AC Infinity Cloudlab 3ft X 3ft (1m2) Grow Tent: This is a budget grow tent that’ll do a fine job at housing 1-4 indoor plants.||$99 USD||NA|
|Gorilla 3ft X 3ft (1m2) Grow Tent: The Gorilla brand is highly revered by growers all around the globe for making some of the best grow tents and equipment on the market.||$292.95 USD||NA|
|Grow light||KINGLED King Plus 600W LED Grow Light: KINGLED is a leading brand in LED grow lights. This 600w light is perfect for small indoor gardens or tents like those mentioned above.||$74.99 USD||$113.4 USD|
|KINGLED King Plus 1200W LED Grow Light: This light is much higher-powered and suitable for larger grow spaces (up to 3m3).||$135 USD||$226.8 USD|
|Intake fan||15.5W AC Infinity RAXIAL S4 4” Intake Fan: With 106 CFM capacity, this intake fan provides more than enough airflow for the grow tents listed above.||$23.99 USD||$5 USD|
|Rotular fan||30W Hurricane 12-Inch Wall Mount Fan: Perfect for keeping a gentle breeze blowing through your tent/room.||$44.30 USD||$9.7 USD|
** The running costs above are calculated based on a standard grow calendar that covers 4 weeks of vegetation (under a 18/6 light schedule) and 8 weeks of flowering (under a 12/12 light cycle) and an electricity cost of $0.15 USD per kilowatt hour.
To calculate the cost of running a piece of grow equipment, first calculate the number of kilowatt hours it will run for using this formula:
Number of hours running X (watts / 1000) = Kilowatt hours
Next, multiply this number by the price of electricity in your area.
EG:If you’re running the 600w KINGLED light listed above for roughly 540 hours during the vegetative phase (18 hours per day for 4 weeks) followed by 720 hours during flower (12 hours per day for 8 weeks), your formula should look like this:
1260 total running hours (veg + flower) X (600 watts / 1000) = 756 kilowatt hours.
At $0.15 USD per kilowatt hour, the total cost of running your light from veg to flower would be $113.4 USD.
Note: These are just estimative figures used to give you an idea of what the costs of running your grow room might look like. Costs will vary depending on what equipment you use and the cost of electricity where you live.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing between indoor and outdoor growing. Take your time to consider the pros and cons of each setup and, if you still can’t decide, try an outdoor grow first. You can always invest in an indoor setup later if need be.