Not all growers have the luxury of cultivating cannabis in vast, open gardens. For various reasons, many have to settle cultivating the plant indoors. However, a big challenge when doing so is the lack of adequate space. Only of a number of raisers have a vacant basement lying around and waiting to be turned into a marijuana nursery.
Moreover, growers have to provide the floras an environment that will simulate the natural processes outdoors. For beginners, the various technical aspect of the task alone may appear intimidating, hindering them from getting into cultivation. Thanks to the ingenuity of cannalovers, however, such a daunting undertaking has become more straightforward.
Micro-Growing With Space Buckets
One way to get around these hindrances is by sizing down crop operations. Known as micro-growing, the cultivation method works in small batches. It employs self-contained spaces, such as cabinets and cupboards.
The use of space buckets is one approach gaining popularity among home growers. Perfect for small areas, it is a DIY setup made by stacking together plastic containers. Because the operation is modest, it is manageable and less intimidating even for new growers.
Best Grow Mediums
There are two primary grow mediums used in space buckets – soil and hydroponics. The use of soilless potting mix such as coco coir is also possible, but the option has not been widely explored yet.
- Soil-Based Setup. Requiring less work to set up and maintain, this mode is suitable for beginners. Utilizing reputable organic soil also makes the endeavor more straightforward. Such growing medium is balanced and laden with good bacteria, fungi, as well as beneficial insects and worms.
- Hydroponics System. Compared to a soil-based setup, hydroponics allows more control over the growing environment. However, it is also harder and costlier to assemble and maintain. Cultivators can either buy a ready-made hydro system or go DIY.
Benefits Of A Bucket Setup
Space buckets offer several advantages for different types of growers. For the inexperienced, it provides the necessary knowledge and practice before transitioning to bigger grows. Veteran cultivators, on the other hand, use the container to maximize area efficiency. Some cannabis enthusiasts also treat it as a personal project, sans the rigorous setups usually required in large operations.
- Minimal Space. Growers do not always the option to grow cannabis out in the open or a sizeable indoor setup. Space buckets offer a simple solution to such restrictions. Instead of managing a full-blown garden, cultivators can grow in a space less than a square meter.
- Low Initial Investment. Because of the smaller setup, the cost of operation is significantly less as opposed to other methods. A simple bucket setup will just cost somewhere between $50 and $100 – a lot less compared to a grow tent costing $250 above, excluding lighting and ventilation.
- Learning Experience. As the setup only caters to one or two plants, growers can monitor the crops more closely. It also allows users to perform various techniques to achieve optimal cannabis growth. Both lead to a better understanding of the development of marijuana plants.
- Personal. Since it is a DIY project, creating a space bucket and growing in it has a more personal feel to it. Compared to cultivating in a grow room or tent where a grower’s attention is divided amongst several plants, raising in a bucket feels like nurturing and caring for a cherished pet.
- Stealth Grow. The use of a space bucket affords growers the opportunity to grow cannabis discretely. This is particularly important to cannabis enthusiasts in societies that prohibit or frown upon the cultivation and use of marijuana. With the crafty container, one can grow pot in the garage, laundry area, or any part of the house without letting anyone know.
Factors To Consider
Many aspects may affect how plants grow inside the bucket. Understanding each one helps cultivators strike a balance in raising cannabis and achieving optimal results.
Not all cannabis strains are created equal. When growing using a space bucket, one of the primary considerations is space efficiency. Therefore, it is crucial to select a suitable strain for the setup.
Sativa variants tend to reach towering heights, typically gaining 200% to 300% increase in height once it reaches maturity. Indicas, on the other hand, tend to grow stockier, gaining only 50% to 100% in height during the flowering stage – making it more suitable for space buckets.
Another viable option is autoflower varieties. These plants are genetically predisposed to grow small because they do not stay in the vegetative phase indefinitely. Moreover, because of these plants’ independence to light cycles, maintaining them are more manageable for beginner growers.
Water is essential for all life forms, including floras. Unlike in outdoor setups, however, the roots of indoor plants cannot travel far to search for water. Thus, cannabis growing in small soil space needs more constant watering.
Growers can use the generic knuckle rule to determine whether the soil already needs watering. Poke the medium with an index finger up to the first knuckle and see if the soil feels dry. If it is, then give the plant a drink. Another simple way to know whether it needs watering is by weighing the pot. If it feels light, then it needs moisture.
Alternatively, those who do not want to rely on guesswork may invest in an inexpensive water meter. It will ensure that the plants will be watered precisely, increasing the chance of a bountiful yield.
Another critical aspect of growing plants is the lighting. Light is mainly responsible for the food and energy production of plants, as well as their growth cycles. Since sunlight will not be able to reach plants indoors, growers rely on artificial sources to aid the growth of their plants.
There’s an array of indoor grow lights available in the market. However, not all are suitable for space bucket cultivation. For example, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are the go-to lighting for most controlled environments because of its high light output. However, it also generates a lot of heat making it unsuitable for smaller, enclosed operations.
For space buckets, a simple CFL lighting system will suffice. Such bulbs run cooler than others and can stay close to the plants. Moreover, the lamps are cheaper and easily obtainable, making it a good choice for budget-conscious novice growers.
Growers may also use LEDs in their buckets. Although generally pricier than CFLs, these lights emit a more extensive range of color spectrum that is good plant growth.
One aspect of growing often overlooked is the growing medium’s pH value. Nutrients vital to plant are only soluble in a certain range of pH. Thus, if its level isn’t apt, the flora will suffer from nutritional deficiency.
Growers must provide a soil environment with pH levels between 6.0 to 7.0 and 5.5 to 6.5 for hydroponics and other soilless setups. High alkalinity (above 7.5) hinders iron, copper, zinc, manganese, and boron ions consumption. On the other hand, high acidity (less than 5.0) prevents the absorption of phosphoric acid, calcium, and magnesium due to lack of solubility.
To measure pH levels, cultivators can use pH strips. The kit is inexpensive, yet accurate. One roll can get about 150 test results with +/- 0.1 margins of error. If pH levels are too high, add an acid such as nitric acid. Conversely, if pH is too low, add Sodium Hydroxide.
Proper ventilation is also necessary in space buckets as the carbon dioxide used by the plant in its photosynthetic processes depletes easily inside the container. Therefore, there should be continuous airflow inside the bucket to maintain a healthy flora. Moreover, proper ventilation also helps dissipate the heat generated by the lighting system, preventing it from drying the plants.
Cannabis goes into different growth stages throughout its lifespan. While these stages are generally consistent in every growing setup, the primary consideration when growing in a bucket is maximizing the available space. Effective planning in each of the growth stages can help growers get the most out of their plants.
Germination is the first step in starting a cannabis garden. It is the process in which a new plant sprouts from the seed. Seeds can be germinated directly into the medium, but pre-sprouting can save time and increase the chance of getting most of the seeds to grow.
There are various techniques growers can use to trigger germination in seeds. In general, these techniques entail supplying the seeds with the right amounts of moisture while keeping them in a dark place with reasonably warm temperature. Such setting simulates the moist and dark underground environment where seeds naturally germinate.
While moisture and heat are essential to germination, providing too much of these may damage the seeds permanently. Also, growers should minimize any stress to the seeds. Avoid touching the taproot as it is very fragile and may easily break – stunting the growth of the plant.
Once the seeds have sprouted, growers must plant them into the selected medium. Always place the seeds into the medium with roots pointing downwards. This way, the seed will not have to spend time reorienting itself.
Avoid overwatering the plant early on. The roots will have no motivation to grow when flooded continuously with water. But do not deprive it either. Water the plants only when the soil already feels dry. This way, the roots will be forced to grow deeper and longer, enabling the plant to sustain its growth in the next stages.
In this stage, the goal is to raise the small plants into big, healthy bushes. Small, limp ones will not produce much yield. Also, cultivators would want to grow the plants into a horizontal sea of buds, allowing for even distribution of light during flowering and better yield production.
While the bucket setup can only offer limited space, there are ways to maximize it. Providing low-stress training keeps the plant’s height within bounds. Meanwhile, pruning allows proper airflow and topping increases bud production.
Moreover, the plant must at least get 18 hours of light for it to grow strong enough to hold the colas. Also, as the plant develops, it will need more water, so be sure to monitor regularly.
An extended vegetation period allows plants to grow larger and have more branches from which buds will bloom. However, it also makes the plant more difficult to manage in a limited space. In a bucket setup, it is always better to let the plants bloom early than late.
As a rule of thumb, give the plant at least a month to thrive in its vegetative phase before switching to flowering. For photoperiod strains to start budding, shift to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. The change in the light cycle will signal the flora the start of the flowering phase.
Autoflower strains, on the other hand, need no light management. These plants will automatically start blooming after 21 to 30 days, regardless of the light cycle. For the sake of food production, though, provide it with 18 to 24 hours of illumination.
Creating A Cheap Space Bucket
A simple bucket setup typically consists of two parts. First is the grow chamber which will contain the medium and the plant, while the other is the light-top which is the lid attached with light bulbs. Advanced builds can include other attachments such as a watering system or LED strips and light-top.
- 4 5-gallon (20 L) buckets and one lid
- 4 23-watt CFL bulbs
- 4 E27 bulb sockets or a 4-socket bulb adapter
- 2 PC fans
- 1 12-volts 2A power supply
- 1 Power Strip
- 1 Standard 24-hour timer
- Mylar or white paint as reflective material
- 1 hydroponic system
- Select one bucket that would be the main growing chamber. To drain the excess water when growing the plant, drill holes at the bottom.
- Line the inside of the bucket with the reflective material to maximize the light. Skip this action if using white containers which are already reflective by default.
- Cut two holes on the opposite sides of the primary bucket for the ventilation. Size the openings appropriately, so the PC fans fit tightly. One fan will act the intake and should be pointing in. Meanwhile, the other serves as an exhaust and should be pointing out.
- Once the fans are in place, connect them to the power supply.
- For the lighting, cut a hole in the lid for each socket and wire them in parallel with a cable and a plug. If using a socket adapter, place the adapter at the underside of the lid. Once done, connect the timer to the lights.
- Glue the power strip to the side of the bucket. It is where the grower will plug the lights and fans.
- To create an adjustable chamber, cut off the top part of the other three buckets. Stack them on top of the primary bucket to adjust the height of the lighting as the plants grow.
- Line the insides of these buckets with reflective material and paint the outside of the whole space bucket with black paint or tape.
- Assemble the grow container. Plug the lights, timer, and fan to the power strip and the strip to the socket.
Cheap Yet Effective
With this cheap system at home, growers won’t have to worry about space restrictions. When constructed and maintained correctly, even the smallest bucket setup can yield incredible results.
Growing with space buckets an excellent option to those who cannot commit to large operations just yet. A sizable setup needs extensive expertise, so it pays to have the necessary experience and knowledge beforehand instead of relying on guesswork. As space buckets require growers to monitor their plants more closely, it is an excellent platform to learn and understand the basics of growing cannabis.