Indoor, Outdoor, or Greenhouse Cannabis Grower?
As cannabis cultivation is continuously modernized and reinvented, growers have more options than ever when it comes to planning garden operations. Yet, an overabundance of cannabis-centric information on the web today can also leave growers guessing which cultivation practice is best for them: indoor, outdoor, or greenhouse?
Opportunities within cannabis horticulture continue to expand beyond horizons never thought possible. Yet, it’s important to understand that the viewpoints of cannabis industry experts aren’t always the best fit for everyone. In fact, it’s often best to appraise your own skillsets and interests in choosing a cultivation method.
In making the important choice between indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse gardening, there are almost countless variances that can be influential on a decision. As such, we feel you should weigh your personal preferences against objective factors in deciding where you should plant your next garden. This decision-making process is a bit about personality, and a bit about necessity.
Indoor Cannabis Cultivation
If considering setting up an indoor cannabis garden, it is important to evaluate your interests and skills as well as your available setup. For starters, it is vital to understand that the most successful indoor growers are those who continuously troubleshoot their operations. This process requires a level of “handiness.” As such, if you are considering growing indoors, you should think about your ability and willingness to work on your grow-room, not just your plants. Along this line of thought, indoor growing also demands a serious building infrastructure to be accomplished effectively and safely. Therefore, the indoor space you available, as well as the size garden you are planning, are essential variables in this planning process.
Unlike outdoor growing, success with indoor cannabis cultivation largely hinges on the creation of optimal plant growth environments. As such, from the initial planning stages through each harvest, good indoor gardeners continuously tweak their grown-rooms and equipment to ensure a proper balance of lighting, airflow, temperature, and humidity. Moreover, indoor grow equipment is prone to failure and malfunction. It is vital to be able to fix these issues on the spot, at any point in time. Therefore, a solid understanding of electrical and construction planning is an excellent knowledge base for successful indoor cannabis growing. This self-sufficiency is consistently put to the test with such issues as power outages and seasonal grow-room alterations.
Indoor growing also appeals to those who have a certain affinity with modern technology. Not only can lighting, air conditioning, exhaust, and CO2 be monitored by smart controllers with digital readouts, they can be controlled via cloud-based technology on smartphones. Similarly, gardeners have a plethora of options with automated irrigation and hydroponics. Therefore, indoor growing practice is perhaps the best fit for tech-savvy millennials and others who enjoy high-tech gadgetry.
The objective constraints that arise in deciding if you should set up an indoor grow operation have largely to do with available infrastructure. Above all, you want your garden to be safe and functional. To illustrate, if you are interested in designing an indoor grow in the neighborhood of 10,000-watts, some real issues arise with available space and electrical output. Also, most home residential electrical panels are not wired to handle the demands of a 10-light garden. Therefore, you can look to your setup options, weighed against your interests, in deciding whether you are an indoor cannabis grower.
Outdoor Cannabis Growing
If you enjoy working in the fresh air and sunshine, outdoor cannabis growing could be a great fit for you. However, with a lack of environmental controls, outdoor cultivators enjoy far less versatility than indoor growers. Along this line of thought, the most talented outdoor cannabis growers are fully dedicated to their plants for the duration of a six-month season, often longer. Therefore, if you are considering setting up an outdoor grow, be prepared for summer and fall plans to revolve around the garden. Finally, due to the “open-air” nature of outdoor cultivation, finding a suitable location for a cannabis garden can prove challenging.
The best outdoor growers generally feel a connection with the rhythms of nature. Outdoor growing is also a great option for those interested in sustainable cultivation practices. Nonetheless, outdoor cannabis growing requires a dedication to gardening processes, where cultivators need to adapt to the many challenges set forth in fluctuating weather patterns. For many outdoor growers in places like Northern California, this means making garden-care the primary focus of their lives. If this sort of pioneering, nature-centered lifestyle matches your temperament, you could be an outdoor cannabis grower.
The planning of an outdoor garden is dictated by far more constraints than seen with indoor growing. Because, full-sun cultivators have huge concerns with climate, privacy, and security. Even if you live in a cannabis-friendly, it is critical to understand what sort of choices you have in your given locale. That being said, it is not unusual for local municipalities to ban outdoor cannabis growing entirely. This is usually because of the stigmas surrounding “criminal activity” and nuisance issues with smell. As such, considerations need to be made in developing a plan that falls in line with your local law. Unfortunately, these considerations don’t always make for the best fit with available cultivation climates and space.
The Greenhouse Cannabis Grower
Greenhouse growing allows multi-talented cultivators to fuse their interests into a single practice. Because, greenhouse growing implements technological perks of indoor gardening while also harnessing the power of the sun. As such, the use of greenhouses has exploded in popularity over the past decade. They appeal to a wide demographic of horticulturists that appreciate sustainability, functionality, and versatility. Moreover, many of the personality traits essential in indoor growing – such as handiness – absolutely apply in greenhouse cultivation. The demands of regular greenhouse maintenance are high. Yet, these operations also present many of the challenges presented with outdoor growing.
To be a successful greenhouse cannabis grower, you need to understand the fundamentals of both indoor and outdoor cultivation. Consequently, greenhouse growing is probably the most difficult practice of the three featured in this article. To this end, successful greenhouse growers must maintain a controlled cultivation environment that fluctuates greatly with the demands of the outdoors. Therefore, like outdoor growers, greenhouse gardeners must be on-site daily to handle garden chores.
Of the three featured horticultural methods in this article, greenhouses fall in the middle-of-the-road concerning overhead costs. Obviously, outdoor growing is the most affordable method of cannabis cultivation, with little equipment needs and no electrical costs. Conversely, indoor grows are notoriously expensive to both setup and operate. Greenhouse operations are sometimes known for utilizing “the best of both worlds,” as they harness the power of the sun while providing some of the environmental protections seen with indoor growing. Therefore, greenhouse-grown cannabis now rivals indoor in quality, with drastically reduced production costs.
A final point of consideration to be made with greenhouse cultivation has to do with the versatility. This notion is especially noteworthy in geographies with climates that are unfavorable for outdoor growing. This is notable because, greenhouses can protect crops from the weather while still using the sun as a primary light source. Greenhouses are great options for cannabis growers in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the Northeastern United States.
Indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cannabis growing all have their appeals as well as challenges. These difficulties should all be considered if you are serious about planning a successful grow. Moreover, it is important to take your personality and interests into account in deciding what type of cannabis grower you are. Finally, objective constraints such as infrastructure, privacy, weather, and cost should be utilized as tools in developing a game plan for cannabis growing. All things considered, taking a realistic appraisal of both your abilities and setup will be rewarding in the end. After all, cannabis cultivation should be both enjoyable and relaxing.
This article originally appeared in the November / December 2019 edition of Maximum Yield Cannabis Magazine.