How to Set Up Your Grow Space on a Budget
Right, so this blog post is designed to teach you the basics of getting your indoor garden grow space up and running without breaking the bank. We’re talking a concise mini-guide for beginners that will get you started with plenty of room…to grow. Pun intended. Let’s cover it in four steps. Sound like a hoot? Cool, then let’s get going.
Step #1: Do Your Homework
First, we’ve got to get this straight: there are countless different combinations of methods and equipment to choose from. Everyone you talk to will tell you something slightly different. Then, you can easily get lost in a digital labyrinth of web articles, forums, information products, ecommerce stores, etc.
Here’s the deal, start small (cheaper) so you don’t spend as much on mistakes. And, you save money upfront. It’s like buying the entire month’s groceries all at once rather than going to the store 6 times. Focus on the absolute basic requirements and make your education a less costly one. Begin by addressing these three things:
- Space: Maybe you want to turn an entire spare room into your own indoor jungle of herbs and veggies, but begin with a small section. Grab some measuring tape and get precise measurements. How much light does it get and what path does light take in the room throughout the day? Can you control the temperature? If so that’s going to save money. How much moisture is in the room by default? How much ventilation/fresh air circulation?
- Plants: This is about getting ultra-specific with what you’re going to grow and why. Are we talking flowers and perennial aesthetics or a full-fledged indoor fruit garden? What you want to grow determines what you need: light, air, soil, containers, water, along with temperature and nutrient demands. This is where all the costs come into play. Again, begin small. Start with a couple containers so you can better understand the long-term big picture costs as your garden builds over time.
- Budget: Come to terms with exactly how much money you’re going to spend to get the initial (bare essentials!) setup working: plant (seeds or starters), container, soil, nutrients and any lighting or temperature control/ventilation devices. That’s where you’re beginning and you’re sticking to the bare essentials.
As you can see Step 1 is where you get the brunt of the mental work dealt with. From here it’s prepping the room, setting it up and then maintaining.
Step #2: Buy Everything at Once
Whether you shop online or head to your nearest nursery, have a list written out and get everything you need all at once. Now, seeds are always going to be less expensive because you’re not buying any containers with them. If you want to save money, build your own containers! It’s so freaking easy.
You can use anything from a drawer or a garbage can to an old treasure chest. Just make sure it’s sealed tight and isn’t going to leak any toxic chemicals into the soil.
All you should really be spending money on right now are the seeds, soil and any necessary lighting (LED are cheaper, save on energy and are more effective). Sure, you could head out back and steal some soil from the backyard lawn or something, but in the long run spending $30 or so on good nutrient-dense organic potting/growing soil is a better idea.
Step #3: Study-Up on Watering & Prep Your Soil
The number one rascal for amateur indoor gardeners is water. It’s so much easier to overwater indoor plants it’s ridiculous. Your containers are probably not going to have drainage holes so you need to understand when your soil is saturated depending on size, depth and density relative to the needs of your chosen plants.
Once you know what you’re dealing with you can then prep the soil and plant. Make sure you pay attention to spacing as well, and all this information is readily available online no matter what you have planned. Initially you’re going to have to closely monitor your plants and soil moisture daily. In time it will become easier and easier. You’ll develop the “green thumb” through experience.
Step #4: Lighting Investments
9 times out of 10 a serious indoor garden is going to at some point require lighting. If that’s you, then it would be wise to buy the lighting in the beginning and start using it immediately. With LEDs, you can start small and scale without any issue. Remember, you’re trying to emulate natural sunlight so LEDs are your best bet.
Keep in mind that while they may seem more expensive upfront, they pay for themselves in savings on your energy bill. Here’s more good news: you can get your hands on inexpensive pre-designed LED growing containers. This way you don’t have to build something (although this would be way cheaper all-around) to hold the lights where they need to be and move them over time.