Growing at Home Using Cheap Space Buckets
Not all indoor growers have the luxury of plenty of space and access to all the equipment they could need to produce commercial-grade crops. Thankfully, home growers don’t really need all the bells and whistles. As long as they have a little space and a small amount of money to invest in cheap equipment, they can grow a small crop of marijuana for personal use using cheap space buckets at home.
The Benefits of Growing Micro-Crops
Growing micro-crops is the best way for novice marijuana seed cultivators to get their toes wet without investing in huge amounts of expensive equipment. Micro-growing is perfect for tiny, self-contained spaces like cabinets, cupboards, and closets, and it requires only a minimal investment of time, money, and labor.
Although growers won’t produce massive crops, micro-cropping isn’t designed for commercial viability. Instead, micro-growers can produce enough marijuana for personal use while getting all the learning experience they need to see what works and what doesn’t. Having just a few plants gives them the chance to monitor each of them more closely and try out techniques designed to optimize yields.
Micro-crops are also more discreet than a full-sized commercial grow operation, which makes them ideal for marijuana enthusiasts who live in places that don’t look kindly on home grows. Not only can the entire growth cycle be completed in a self-contained space, but since they use buckets, the plants can be moved if anything comes up.
As a note specific to the size’s you will choose for your buckets, this will largely depend on which strain of recreational or medical cannabis seeds you intend to grow. If you want any chance of completing your micro-grow cannabis farm in the same bucket you start in, choose an auto-flower strain such as Auto Northern Lights x Big Bud or Auto Gorilla Glue . Even small-stature indica strains like Grape Ape will require a garbage can for a minimum size allowing the plant to mature all the way through flowering stages.
Building Space Buckets
Space buckets are simple setups that consist of just two parts. The grow chamber contains only the grow medium and one marijuana plant. The second part consists of another empty bucket with lights affixed to the top. Building both parts of the space bucket is both easy and economical.
With space buckets, there’s no need to buy expensive, specialized equipment. Gather the required items in advance and prepare to devote a day to getting everything set up. Here’s what to buy for each plant:
- four white five-gallon buckets and one lid
- four 23-watt CFL bulbs
- four E27 bulb sockets
- 2 computer fans
- a power strip
- a 24-hour timer
- black and/or white paint
Most of the tools required to create a space bucket can be found in just about any home workshop. For those who don’t have access to tools, a little ingenuity goes a long way, but those who want to minimize hassles can buy the following items in advance:
- a razor blade
- a drill
- a rotary tool
- a screwdriver
- a measuring tape
- duct tape
- a permanent marker
- 6mm bolts with nuts and washers
How to Build It
A basic space bucket setup is pretty simple. Once they have experience with the basic setup, growers may want to add extra features. For the first season, just follow these easy instructions for how to construct each part of the setup.
Make a Drip Tray
Choose one white five-gallon bucket to use as the grow chamber. Measure around 3.5 inches up from the bottom and draw a horizontal line all the way around the bucket. Cut along this line using a rotary tool to separate the bottom of the bucket from the top. The bottom of the bucket will be used as a drip tray, while the top will become part of the upper chambers of the space bucket.
Create the Main Grow Chamber
Take a second bucket and flip it upside down. Use the drill to create 6 to 12 evenly distributed holes in the bottom. This will allow the excess water to drain from the grow medium into the drip tray.
Before setting the main grow chamber to the drip tray, drill four evenly spaced holes in the bottom section around 1.5 inches from the top rim. Place a bolt in each hole and tighten all of them down using the nuts and washers. The main grow chamber will rest on these bolts, allowing water to drain freely through the drainage holes.
Cut two ventilation holes in the primary bucket. These holes should be sized to fit the computer fans, which will be used for air intake and exhaust. One easy way to measure the holes is to remove the cover from one fan and use it to mark the cutouts, which should be around 3.5 inches from the top rim of the grow chambers. Most DIY space bucket manufacturers install one fan in the main grow chamber and the other in the upper chamber, but this is really a matter of preference.
When installing the fans, face one of them toward the inside of the bucket and one of them toward the outside. Don’t forget to mark out and drill mounting holes for the fans to ensure that they are firmly affixed to the buckets.
Create a paper template for where the bulbs, sockets, and electrical cords will be located. Use this template to mark the bucket with a permanent marker, then use a drill to cut four holes in the lid for the CFL lights. The sockets should be wired in parallel, then connected to the timer to ensure that the plant can be kept on the right light/dark schedule. The lights and the fans will all be plugged into the power strip, which can be affixed to the outside of the bucket.
To prevent light loss, cover the outside of the buckets with duct tape. Just make sure not to cover the drainage holes on the bottom of the main grow chamber. Use a razor blade to cut the tape around the openings for the fans and lights.
Plug the lights, fans, and timer into the power strip, and plug the power strip into an AC outlet. Make sure that everything works as intended and set the timer to the 18/6 photoperiod recommended for seedlings.
Plant the Seedlings
Plant the seedlings in the finished space buckets and check on them frequently to ensure that they are getting sufficient food, light, and nutrients. As the plants enter the vegetative stage, pay attention to the amount of space between their canopies and the lights. Eventually, growers will need to expand their setups to accommodate plant growth and ensure that the leaves don’t get burned.
Create Room to Grow
One of the primary benefits of making space buckets is that they are fully adjustable. To create extra space for growing plants and ensure that the lights stay at the right height in comparison to the canopy, just cut off the bottoms of the other two buckets. They can be stacked on top of the primary and initial upper grow chambers to create more space as the plants grow.
To attach the upper grow chamber that holds the lights, use duct tape to create a seal. Make sure no light is able to leak through. When the plants grow large enough that they require extra space, remove the upper grow chamber and add another bucket with its lid cut off. Home space bucket builders can use the same technique of placing bolts, nuts, and washers described above in reference to the drip tray to give the upper chambers a solid footing. Repeat this process as needed until the plants are ready for harvest. Each space bucket should produce an average of 28 grams of finished bud.
Tips for Success
Growing in space buckets is a lot like growing in any other indoor setup. Make sure that the plants are getting all the water, nutrients, and light they need to thrive and check on them frequently to make sure that there are no adjustments that need to be made to the setup. The most challenging part of growing with space buckets is ensuring that there is sufficient space between the lights and the plant canopies, so aim for around one foot of space and look out for danger signs like crispy leaves. We should reinforce here also that you will have the most success starting when you follow the methods above.
Popular Bucket Mods
Want to up the space bucket game? Here are a few popular mods to try:
- switch to storage bins for more space
- use trash cans for added height
- install a drip system to convert to hydro
- try growing in coco coir instead of soil
- exhaust the air through the top of the bucket and install a carbon filter to minimize odors. This is especially important if growing stinky strains like Blue Cheese or Skunk Weed.
- supplement lighting beneath the canopy with LED strips
The Bottom Line
Growing in space buckets is a cheap, easy, and discreet way to get started with indoor cannabis cultivation. Space buckets can be constructed for less than $100 apiece and can be placed almost anywhere in the house since they have very small footprints. Growers who want to get started with indoor cultivation but don’t have the extra space or resources to devote to constructing full-sized grow rooms will find that space buckets offer a great alternative that allows them to get the hang of indoor cultivation and provide a small crop of high-quality marijuana for personal use.