It’s called “micro-growing” when you want to optimize your cannabis crop in a small space. Suppose you’re in a townhouse, a studio apartment with few closets and cabinets. or in a dorm room. You may need some help to plant, grow, and produce an acceptable yield of quality stuff.
8 steps to grow cannabis in tiny spaces:
Step 1: Learn what you can. Growing cannabis isn’t like raising tomatoes on the deck. It’s more difficult than starting seedlings on your windowsill. Millions grow their own everywhere, but it takes some research and study.
This starts with why you want to raise a crop. It might be for pleasure, medical benefits, or a combination of reasons. Knowing why you want it helps you pick the strain, understand the growing cycle, and determine the space you need.
You’ll also learn to respect watering and nutrition requirements, the equipment you’ll budget, and what kind of yield to expect. Cannabis is a universally available herb, but it needs special care. You might think of it like raising African violets or orchids.
Step 2: Measure the space. You’ll need space for the crop, lighting, and maneuvering, so you should be thinking 4-foot cubed. But you might manage one plant in a 2-foot by 2-foot by 4-foot grow space.
Even one plant, depending on the strain, can reach considerable height and width. Allowing for lighting equipment, the space should be higher than wide. And, you’ll need room for the accessories, tools, and grow medium involved.
Any space must be clean and free from contamination with drainage capability to prevent root rot, mold, and mildew. And, fresh air circulation remains vital but isn’t found naturally in closed spaces. You need room for the equipment and regular access to the plants and devices, so you must think twice about cramming everything into a closet.
Step 3: Pick your “brand.” Different strains grow differently. Some are more delicate than others. Some produce good yields in small spaces. And, some serve your purposes better.
- Motivation is a perfectly balanced hybrid with 19% THC. It will put you to sleep with a trance-like dreamy relief from anxiety and depression.
- Warlock is a hybrid bred for taste and flavor. It’s been around for over 20 years and still offers a potent cerebral high along with a lot of medicinal potential.
- Amnesia Haze is another award winner with a lot of Jamaica in it. Its sativa content permits daytime use, enables heavy creativity, and relieves daily stress.
- White Widow remains a hugely popular 60% Sativa / 40% Indica hybrid. Despite its 25% THC dominance, White Widow lets you unwind and relax after a potent cognitive high.
- AK-47 blends 65% Sativa and 35% Indica for a 13% to 20% THC and 1% CBD. It lays in with a long-lasting head hit before relieving stress and pain, but its aroma may catch your neighbors’ attention.
You’ll find other strains to meet your needs, but these offer a good start. They generally grow into a short bushy plant. But you might also look at the legendary and potent Hindu Kush which produces plump nuggets with heavy trichomes in a compact plant. Northern Lights produces complex medical results in an almost 4-foot plant. And, Hash Plant might reach 4-feet outdoors, but it will hit just over 3.5-feet indoors.
You want to consider the plant’s height and formation because you must be able to move your hands and tools among the plants to tend your crop. Plants that grow tight may be difficult to aerate and prune whereas leafy plants will produce smaller yields. So, you need a balance.
Step 4: Measure the grow cycle and yield. You should know how long each phase takes and how much product you can expect after flowering.
- Germination sees seeds sprout root in 24 hours to two weeks.
- Seedlings grow classic marijuana leaves within two to three weeks.
- Vegetative Stage happens in 3 to 8 weeks following transplanting to larger containers.
- Flowering produces your buds over 6 to 8 weeks requiring your attention.
Your harvest should produce the yield you expected and in which you invested. The strain’s genetics, space and lighting, and nutrition and medium all influence the quality and quantity of the yield you can measure in several ways:
- Yield per Square Foot = Dried Product Weight/Square Footage of Canopy
- Yield per Cubic Foot = Dried Product Weight/Cubic Footage of Canopy
- Yield per Watt of Light = Dried Product Weight/Total Lamp Wattage
- Total Wattage Hours = Total Light Wattage X Light Operating Hours per Day
The yield is important, but you must weigh it in terms of your investment, time, and space.
Stage 5: Form a grow strategy. A grow plan must schedule and calendar your care. The plan must identify your grow place, growth media, irrigation cycle, and aeration and lighting plans.
- Grow tents come as small as 24-inches x 24-inches x 48-inches suitable for hydroponic growing but requiring additional accessories. Others may fit a closet at 4-feet square and 72-inches high. Or, for bigger spaces, you might go for something even larger volume. Most manufacturer’s offer reflective Mylar linings and ports for attaching accessories.
- If you grow yours in soil, you should study texture, drainage, and water retention. Most growers recommend clay and/or loamy soils or commercially prepared media with those qualities.
- If you grow plants hydroponically, you can find easily programmed irrigation devices. Otherwise, you need a plan to water plants in soil to avoid over- and underwatering. Moreover, each stage of growth requires different watering habits.
- Seedlings need plenty of water in terms of frequency, not quantity. The medium must stay wet but not soaked, so wet the surface of the soil with a hand sprayer at least twice a day without wetting the seedling itself.
- Vegetative growth in small pots requires water every day and every other day in large pots. It helps to use a humidity meter to measure the watering needs for the specific type and volume of the medium. Plants grow very quickly through this stage and need their share of water as they grow.
- While flowering, the plants consume light and water, so you need to water when the top few centimeters of the medium are dry. One idea is to add enough water to produce a 10 to 30 percent water runoff.
Step 6: Keep the lights on. The smallest grow tents allow only enough space for a single plant with genetics that will fill but not exhaust the space. If you want to grow more, you’ll need a bigger “tiny” space.
You’ll also need room for the lighting equipment. Cannabis needs carefully regulated light. When you shop, you’ll face many options. You should focus on the wattage and heat produced to avoid burning off the plant. Your cannabis will need an average of 400-Watts per square meter of space.
Fluorescent and energy-saving CFL lamps will provide the necessary light without the suffocating heat. They also come in colors allowing you to use blue light during the vegetative phase and red during flowering. This might also lead you to the cool full spectrum but pricey LED lights.
Step 7: Freshen the air. Indoor plants need fresh air. Air moves the leaves gently and combats the heat from lighting. Moving air fights mold, mildew, and pests. Plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. So, it is vital to the photosynthesis process, growth, and flowering.
It’s not enough to provide the air. It must circulate with some constancy and control. You should invest in a computer-controlled circulation setup with input at the bottom and exhaust near the top pulling out the heat that has risen to the top.
Step 8: The final piece. If you grasp the connection between light, heat, and air, you get a better sense of their relationship with the volume of your tiny space. To optimize the benefits of light, heat, and air, you must opt for shorter bushier strains.
Most strains will produce a single cola turning into on solid nug. But training growth will produce much more. These techniques to maximize the yield are practices by gardeners everywhere on trees, bushes, flowering plants, and vegetables, too.
Hands-on gardening uses tools and tested techniques. For instance, you can cut off the top of the plant to invigorate growth in additional lower branches (Topping). You can maximize the results with High-Stress Training (HST) carefully breaking the main branch so the plant “panics” and grows wide not high.
Low-Stress Training (LST) gently ties the highest branches to the soil. This forces the plant to produce lower branches and colas because it redistributes its growth hormones. You might prefer to weave plant foliage together into a Sea of Green or place a wire screen on top of the growth. As the plants grow through the screen, you tie them to the screen to direct horizontal growth (Screen on Green) creating a canopy to optimize the lighting effects.
Wrap it up!
You can grow cannabis in tiny spaces. It takes some serious research on your part, some patience with the difficulties, and some money invested in strains and equipment. Learning how and practicing a bit saves you money on buying recreational cannabis and having a stash on hand for all your medical needs. You should give it a try!