Indoors versus Outdoors
The first thing to think about is where you live. Your geographic location determines your climate and seasonal growing conditions. These factors will impact how well different strains of cannabis will grow outdoors. Of course, if you are planning on indoor growing, you can dictate climate conditions and manipulate light, thus controlling where the plants think they are growing. This control gives the indoor grower more choice as to different strains.
Medical Cannabis States
Do you live in a state that currently has medical cannabis laws? Although cannabis remains illegal and a Schedule I drug under United States federal law, many states have passed medical marijuana laws and that number is increasing on a yearly basis.
In almost all of these states, patients are required to produce their own cannabis, or to designate an individual to produce it for them. Some states have dispensary programs, but mostly patients are on their own and, like most recreational users, must turn to the black market if they lack a grower.
City, Suburb, Rural?
City and suburban growers are mostly forced to grow indoors; otherwise, they will usually raise plants for cannabis thieves, commonly known as “rippers.” This name is particularly apt, as not only are they ripping you off, but also the smash and grab tactics commonly used involve literally ripping the plants apart or from the earth.
The last thing you want is to have strangers targeting your home and your plants. With that warning in mind, however, a smaller amount of cannabis plants can be intermixed with a regular garden and will frequently escape detection.
How Much Do You Want to Grow?
The second item to consider is how much you want to grow. Usually, the quick answer is: as much as possible! There are two kinds of answers to this question, as it can be taken in two different ways.
Grow Like a Gardener
One, how much do you want to grow? Do you already garden and think, “I can grow a great tomato plant, why would cannabis be any more difficult?” Do you look at friends’ cannabis gardens and feel attracted to the plants themselves? If you answered yes, then you actually want to grow cannabis.
Grow for Supply
The other interpretation is how much do you want to grow? Is your purpose in growing to supply yourself or a friend or relative with medical cannabis? You need to sit down and figure out how many ounces a month are medically needed. Bear in mind that tinctures and medibles (edibles containing marijuana) use far more than ingestion by smoking.
As a first-time grower, make your calculations based on a yield of four to six ounces per plant. Once you know what you are doing, it is not unreasonable to expect a pound to a pound and a half per plant yields, but it is always better to be pleasantly surprised by a higher yield than to come up short.
Indoor growing can be particularly hard on the pockets. A small indoor grow can run to $400 per month very easily, and that is just for ongoing electricity costs. The initial purchase of building materials for vegetative and flowering rooms (each of which requires a different light cycle and different lights), fans, dehumidifiers, filters, ballasts, grow lights and the bulbs (which wear out and need replacing), containers, and soil can be prohibitive. Other ongoing expenses include renewing the soil mixture for each crop, different mineral additives, and water bills.
Outdoor growing has the advantage of using the sun for free. Other than that bonus from nature, you must factor in the start-up costs of fencing, improving your soil, water, mineral additives, and a drying area for after the harvest. Fencing needs to be high and of stout materials. It has three functions: to screen your garden from casual observers, to keep out livestock and wild browsers like deer, and to keep out rippers. For optimizing ripper protection, use a high boarded fence to minimize visibility, electric wire on the inside of the fence top to discourage climbers, and heavy-gauge wire or stock panels around the plants.
One very important factor to consider as you plan: what kind of budget are you working with?