Categories
BLOG

growing weed in 5 gallon buckets

A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Cannabis In A Space Bucket

If you don’t have much room or money but still want to grow a little weed, a space bucket might be the way to go. You can build one yourself from cheap materials you can find at most hardware stores. Let’s take a look at what’s involved in this increasingly popular micro-grow technique.

A space bucket combines all the key elements of a grow room into a small, self-contained environment. It contains room for at least one small cannabis plant as well as lighting, fans for ventilation, and a power supply. The typical space bucket is made from a standard 5-gallon (19-litre) bucket, but the final design is only limited by your imagination and available space. Think storage totes and waste bins if you want to expand your options.

WHY GROW WEED IN A SPACE BUCKET?

Growing weed in a space bucket has three primary advantages: low cost, small footprint, and total control.

LOW COST

Space buckets are cheap to make. You could easily spend €1,000 or more to build out a grow room, but this micro-environment will only set you back by a tenth of that. Most of the items you’ll need can be found around the house or purchased at any store that sells household items.

SMALL FOOTPRINT

Space buckets take up very little space, making them perfect for apartments, dorm rooms, or crowded houses. If you have an empty corner in your closet, a little space in the garage, or even a small spot under the kitchen sink, you can grow weed in a space bucket. Camouflage your bucket by surrounding it with other storage containers and hiding the wires if you keep it in an area where other people frequent. No one should be able to see the lights once the bucket is sealed, but they might be able to hear a low hum from the fans.

TOTAL CONTROL

Most space bucket growers do so because they like to challenge the limits of what they can do in a small space. Sealed micro-environments give you total control over the grow, and that comes with both advantages and disadvantages.

A little mistake that could be easily corrected in a large grow room could be enough to kill your plants in a space bucket. But, if you can maintain consistency in lighting, feed, and pH levels, you could experiment and see what a small change to one aspect of the grow will do.

To do this, set up at least two space buckets to grow the same strain under different conditions. You could train differently, flip one to bloom early, or try different nutrients. Soon, you’ll know which method was better. Keep what works best for your next space bucket project or integrate your newfound knowledge into a bigger grow.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SPACE BUCKET

You can purchase a pre-made space bucket, but the whole idea behind this concept is to do it yourself. Here’s how you make a basic, starter space bucket.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

A) 2 x 5-gallon plastic buckets
B) 1 x 5-gallon plastic bucket lid
C) 180W full-spectrum LED grow light
D) 2 small fans
E) Power strip
F) Timer
G) 4 x 6mm bolts with nuts and washers
H) 1m of thin rope
I) Spray glue
J) 1 tube silicone sealant
K) Permanent marker
L) Measuring tape
M) Mylar film
N) Duct tape
O) Rotary tool
P) Drill
Q) Screwdriver
R) Razor blade
S) Safety glasses

INSTRUCTIONS:

MAKE THE DRIP TRAY

1. Measure 8cm up from the bottom of one bucket and draw a horizontal line.

2. Put on the safety glasses.

3. Use the rotary tool to cut along the line.

4. Set the bottom of the bucket to the side for now.

5. The bottom of the bucket is your drip tray. The top part will be the top of the space bucket.

DRILL DRAINAGE HOLES

1. Turn the other bucket upside down.

2. Drill 12 holes evenly distributed across the bottom for drainage.

3. Remove the handle.

4. This is the bottom of the space bucket. It sits on top of the drip tray.

ADD BOLTS AND SLOTS TO LOCK THE TWO BUCKETS TOGETHER

1. Drill 4 holes in the bottom section of the space bucket. They should be 4cm from the top rim and spaced evenly apart.

2. Insert a bolt in each hole and tighten using the nuts and washers.

3. Put the top section on the bottom section, allowing it to rest on the bolts.

4. Mark where the bolts are, then draw up 4cm and over 4cm to form an L-shape. They should all point in the same direction.

5. Use the rotary tool to cut on the L-shaped mark to form a 6mm channel.

6. Put the top section on the bottom.

7. Line up the bolts with the channels so that the top drops down over the bottom.

8. Twist to lock. Pick up using the handle to make sure you have a secure fit.

MAKE CUTOUTS FOR THE FANS

1. Separate the top and bottom sections.

2. Remove the cover from one of the fans.

3. Use the fan cover to mark the cutout and mounting holes on the bottom section. This should be about 8cm from the top rim.

4. Put on safety glasses.

5. Use the drill to make the mounting holes.

6. Use the rotary tool to make a cutout for the fan’s output.

7. Repeat for the top section.

ADD LED LIGHTING TO THE LID

1. Find the mounting holes on top of the LED light.

2. Cover the top of the LED light with a piece of paper. Trace the positions for the mounting holes, power cord, and fan intake.

3. Use the paper as a template to transfer the positions to the bucket lid.

4. Put on safety glasses.

5. Use a drill to create openings for the mounts and electrical cord. Use the dremel tool to create a larger hole for the fan intake.

6. Remove the top lid from the LED light. It should screw off or pop off.

7. Remove the screws intended to hold mounting cables.

8. Insert each screw through a washer, then through the bucket lid, through the top of the LED light. Tighten with a nut.

9. If possible, flip the fan around so it blows out of the bucket.

10. Reconnect the LED light to its lid, now attached to the bucket lid.

INCREASE REFLECTIVITY, ELIMINATE LIGHT LEAKS

1. Using the spray glue, line the inside of the buckets with Mylar film to increase reflectivity.

2. Cover the outside of the buckets and drip tray with duct tape to prevent light leaks.

3. Do not cover the bottom of the bucket with the drain holes.

4. Once everything is covered, cut through the tape and Mylar with a razor blade to re-open the fan cutouts.

CREATE A SEAL BETWEEN THE TOP AND BOTTOM BUCKETS

1. Use duct tape and rope to create a seal that runs between the bottom bucket’s rim and the 4 bolts.

2. Lock the top to the bottom and check the fit.

3. Continue adding duct tape over the rope one layer at a time until the gap is closed and no light will be able to leak out.

INSTALL THE FANS

1. The intake fan should be mounted on the bottom bucket.

2. Insert the fan body so that the grill is on the inside of the bucket.

3. Insert the screws and tighten as much as possible to prevent air leaks.

4. Repeat to install the exhaust fan to the bottom bucket, making sure that the grill points outside the bucket.

5. Use the tube of silicone to seal any gaps between the bucket and fan housing.

PLUG IN AND TEST

1. Assemble the bucket.

2. Plug the fans directly into the power strip.

3. Plug the LED light into the timer. Plug the timer into the power strip.

4. Plug in the power outlet and make sure everything is operating as expected.

ADD CANNABIS PLANTS AND GROW HERB

1. Add a pot with a small seedling.

2. Set the timer.

3. Feed and water as needed until harvest. On average, you can harvest about an ounce (28g) per grow from this type of setup.

SPACE BUCKET MODS AND HACKS

The steps above explain how you can make a simple space bucket. It’ll only take you a few hours, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or materials, and it works.

But this isn’t the only way to do it. That’s the beauty of space buckets. You take the idea, then customise it to make it your own. There are virtually no limits.

Here are some things that other space bucket masters have done:

• Use storage bins for enough width to grow multiple plants.
• Stack more buckets or use trash cans for more height.
• Use a drip system to convert it to hydro.
• Add a stronger exhaust system to the top with a carbon filter.
• Add supplementary lighting below the canopy with CFLs or LED strips.

POINTERS FOR GROWING WEED IN A SPACE BUCKET

Growing cannabis plants in a space bucket isn’t too different from a traditional grow, but there are some things to consider.

It’s better to go from veg to bloom a little too early than waiting too long. That’s because you need to keep your plants on the smaller side if you want them to survive until they’re fully mature. Cannabis can stretch by up to 200% once the light schedule is switched to 12/12 to force bloom. You should also choose indica strains over sativas and use a variety of training techniques to keep your plant’s size in check.

Instead of planting directly into the bottom of the space bucket, use a separate pot so you can easily lift it out if you need to for any reason. It’ll also keep your space bucket cleaner so you can start a new grow immediately after you finish a harvest.

Don’t be disappointed if your yield is smaller than expected. Most first-timers get somewhere between ½ and ¾ of an ounce. Regular space bucket growers generally get about an ounce per grow, but the all-time record is a little more than 3oz (85g).

Remember that increasing the size of your space bucket will almost always mean adding more lights. Don’t go too tall. If you do, you can obviously grow a taller plant, but the light won’t reach far enough into the canopy to increase the yield. Instead, you could end up with a lot of fluffy popco rn buds instead of big, heavy nuggets.

SPACE BUCKET SUMMARY

Space buckets are an interesting DIY project that challenges growers and allows them to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a smaller scale. They can produce a small amount of dank buds using minimal resources, but final yield is not what growing in space buckets is all about. It’s more about learning how to completely control every aspect of a micro-environment to learn what maximises potency, flavour, resin content, or any other desirable trait. Whether you use that knowledge to improve your next space bucket project or carry it over to a full-sized grow is up to you.

A space bucket is a fun but challenging way to grow weed in the smallest space imaginable, and at a very low cost. Find out how to do it.

Space Buckets – Start Growing Marijuana For $100!

by Ekrof (re-published with permission)

Example of a Space Bucket in Action

A Space Bucket Harvest
Average yield is around 1 oz, though you can get up to 2 oz with the skills of a bucket wizard!

Table of Contents

Forward by Nebula Haze: Space Buckets are easy to build at home, and will allow you to grow small amounts of marijuana in a way that’s low-budget, simple, and doesn’t need a lot of room.

Unlike other, more expensive grow methods, a basic starter Space Bucket can be made for about $100.

Today Ekrof introduces you to the basics of creating your own Space Bucket.

Get started growing today!

Space Buckets are easy to make and require readily available items. You won’t need to find anything special.

Total investment? About $100-$200

Items Needed to Make a Space Bucket:

4 or more 5gal (20L) buckets, and one lid (you can use more buckets for a taller Space Bucket / bigger plants) – to save some extra cash these buckets are usually cheaper to buy in person, for example, you can find 5-gallon buckets at Home Depot for $5/each. Get a white bucket if possible, as it helps reflect more light. Some growers also paint the inside of their buckets white.

6 x 23w CFL bulbs and the same number of E27 sockets
(more light is better up to a point, but heat is also a concern; using 6 small CFLs gives the best of both in a space bucket)

2+ PC Fans and a 12v power supply (use more fans for additional cooling)

Any kind of reflective material (like white paint or Mylar)

A standard 24h timer to automatically turn lights on and off

Some wire, glue and other minor tools you probably already have around the house

How to Make Your Space Bucket

These grow buckets can be made in a few hours, and only basic knowledge of the dangers of electricity is needed. A few steps in the following guide were simplified for the sake of legibility and common sense.

Step 1: Build Main Casing For Space Bucket

A.) Make holes in bottom of one bucket for water drainage

Pick your best looking bucket and make some holes in the bottom with a hot screwdriver. This will enable water drainage once the soil and plant is put in. It’s recommended to put some rocks on the bottom of the bucket, they will keep the bucket from getting clogged.

The more drainage, the better.

B.) Place reflective material on inside walls

Next, put reflective material on the inside walls, it sticks neatly with any kind of glue (and a little patience).

If you happen to have white buckets, this covering is optional, as the walls will be very reflective. Aluminium foil is usually not recommended for safety reasons.

C.) Cover outside with black tape or paint to light-proof your bucket

Also, don’t forget to cover the outside walls with layers of black tape or paint, this will make the Space Bucket mostly lightproof and will let you control light leaks.

Step 2: Create Your Exhaust System (Intake & Outtake Holes with fans)

Cut 2 holes on opposite sides of the main bucket (a hot knife can be used to melt the plastic).

These will hold the PC fans (8×8 or 12×12) so you will need to cut them to size. It’s best to have a tight fit and apply some pressure, as bucket walls bend.

Once the fans are in place, connect the 12v power supply to them.

Make sure the power supply has the right amperage (a standard one with 1A can run at least 2 or 3 fans).

One fan will act as the intake, the other as exhaust.

That means that one fan should be pointing in (intake), and the other fan should be pointing out (exhaust).

Nebula’s note: If one fan is bigger than the other, use the bigger fan for the exhaust (pulling air out of the bucket). Pulling hot air out is more effective than trying to push cold air in. Whenever possible, it’s generally recommended to place your exhaust/outtake hole closer to the top, so that it is pulling out the hot air close to your grow lights.

Step 3: Install bulbs on lid

Here’s the design I originally used for Space Bucket lids, though I’ve found the following design is far superior:

In this design, the lights are placed horizontally to maximize the amount of light given to the plants. This configuration also reduces the height needed (additional bucket tops) for your Space Bucket. You can add an extra exhaust fan to pull hot air out and away from your lights.

Pick a bucket lid and make holes for the bulb sockets. Wire them in parallel with cable and a plug. Here’s a diagram I made on how to wire your lights in parallel for your space bucket.

You can use a light fixture to simplify this step, but it’s not ideal. It’s better to wire your own lights.

Once the wiring is done, glue a container on the lid for safety, like this:

You can use a lot of things for this, but never use aluminium foil or any other conductive material.

You can also make a light-top to fit more CFL wattage inside the bucket. This allows for sideways bulbs, and should be more effective than light-lids. Check the Optional Extras & Upgrades section for more information about this superior design as well as other tricks!

Step 4: Glue Power Strip To Side of Bucket

It is now time to glue a power strip to one side of the bucket.

This is where you will connect the plug from the lights (and timer) and the 12v power supply for the fans, among other things.

Step 5: Cut off tops from all buckets except one, and stack them on top of each other to give your bucket adjustable height

Cut the top off every bucket but the main one, leaving some inches of the plastic wall.

The tops will be stacked to the main bucket to alter the height of the lights.

This allows you to adjust your lights easily as your plants grow.

Put reflective material inside and tape outside.

Step 6: Light-proof your finalized space bucket and connect everything together

You can now connect and assemble your indoor garden.

Use black tape (or paint) and glue to cover holes and make the bucket as lightproof as possible, this step is for details and finishing touches.

Connect the timer, lights and 12v supply to the power strip, and then the strip to a socket.

That’s it!

That is it, you’re done!

You now have a fully functional Space Bucket.

Plant directly in the main bucket, turn on the lights and timer, and watch life thrive and grow.

You can always add more bucket tops if you need more height for the lights, and CFL bulbs can be upgraded to 42w (watch out for the additional heat put out by these bigger lights).

You should keep in mind that this is the basic Space Bucket design: please check Optional Extras and Upgrades and Learn to grow section for advanced techniques. Good luck!

Optional Extras and Upgrades

Space Buckets can be upgraded with a LED spotlight, which is also easy to make and relatively cheap.

There are many types of LED lights; the one used in this quick guide is a 3x3w High-Power LED module (here’s a PDF with the technical specifications of the LED light), warm white.

The resulting LED thing can be used to focus light on a specific part of the plant. Modules and instructions may vary.

The image below explains the procedure:

1.) Take the module and attach a passive cooler (with thermal paste).

2.) Connect cables to a 12v power supply with the proper amperage.

3.) Add some legs to plant the spotlight. Finished!

Easy Watering System

You can also update you Space Bucket with a safer and simple watering system that uses gravity to push water out of a hose.

The basic idea is to make a hole on the side of the bucket and put some kind of hose through it, making sure that the angle will allow the water to flow.

A cointaner and a valve is added to control the amount of water used.

CFL Light-Top Design

Another recommended update is the light-top, a new way of installing the CFL bulbs on the Space Buckets.

This design uses sockets added to bucket-tops to fit about 4 sideways bulbs.

Here’s an example of one possible configuration with stacked light-tops (total of 192W)

Here is another (this one is unstacked) light-top with 138w, which uses much larger CFLs:

With this much wattage, a more powerful fan will be needed to extract the heat from the bulbs. A 220v fan can be mounted on the light-top for this purpose. Make sure this fan is pointing outward from the inside of your bucket, to pull hot air away from the lights and out the top.

Tips for growing marijuana in your Space Bucket

There are a few techniques that can be used to optimize the Space Buckets. It is essential to keep the plants relatively short, and bushy as possible. Training, topping and pruning is recommended.

LST (low-stress training) is a basic tool for keeping the height of the plant under control. Simply tie the branches to the sides of the buckets, or directly onto the soil. Combined with topping, this method keeps the plants low and bushy.

If the plant has many bucket tops, the canopy will surely be under more heat, as the ventilation is generally at ground level. In this case, a third PC fan can be added to a bucket top for more mobile ventilation. A standard 1A 12v power supply should be able to run three fans, depending on their amperage usage; if it doesn’t work, the active intake at ground level can be disabled.

Odor control is still work in progress, as PC fans are too weak to work effectively as carbon scrubbers.

Safety first! Be extra careful with watering. Always disconnect the power, and keep an eye on splashes. Watch out for water runoff.

About The Author: Ekrof

As someone without a lot of room to grow, I found myself searching for a way to grow marijuana plants that was easy and could fit in my apartment. I began to experiment with growing in buckets.

Space Buckets have proven to be an easy and inexpensive to set up while plants thrive. After I made my first space bucket, the rest was history. I’ve been building the Space Buckets community over the last year and I invite you to join us.

My very first Space Bucket

This was my first harvest with a Space Bucket!

Nebula’s Pick:

Best Strain For Your Space Bucket

These are some things to consider when choosing a strain for your space bucket:

  • Auto-flowering (recommended) – Just give your plant light/water/soil and it will automatically start producing buds on her own. An autoflowering strain prevents you from having to worry about light schedules. Auto-flowering strains tend to stay much smaller and are ready to harvest in under 3 months.
  • Feminized – Feminized seeds only grow into female plants, so all plants grown from these seeds produce buds. Otherwise, half the plants will be male and not produce any buds.
  • Tough – A tough strain makes hardy plants that are surprisingly resilient against problems
  • Stays Short – Some strains are “stretchier” than others. Short strains naturally stay on the smaller side (perfect for a small growing space like a Space Bucket)
  • Ultra-short grow time – Since you want plants to stay small, you want plants that tend to be ready to harvest quickly (so they don’t have time to get as big)
  • Effects – You’re growing buds for yourself, which means you should get the exact effects you’re looking for! Choose a strain that seems to have what you’re looking for. It’s important to be excited about the strain you’re growing! It helps you take better care of your plants.
  • Smell – Some strains smell more than others, and each strain has a unique smell. I love strains that have strong, unique smells. But if you’re going for stealth, a lower smelling strain may be better. See examples of low-odor strains.

Autoflowering Strain Recommendations

  • Zkittlez Auto by Seedsman – Seedsman is both a breeder and a seed bank. They carry pricey high-end strains from many breeders but also use their connections to offer new and celebrated genetics at reasonable prices. A few years ago, Seedsman started focusing on their in-house auto-flowering breeding program, and have built an impressive autoflowering strain library. Their easy-to-grow Zkittlez autoflowering strain is popular because buds are potent, smell surprisingly sweet, and taste fruity. Great for someone who wants high potency combined with the taste and smell of new genetics – $30 for 3 seeds
  • Gelat.OG Auto by Seedsman – This may be the best autoflowering version of the trendy and euphoric Gelato strain. Plants tend to stay on the shorter side and buds occasionally turn purple. For someone who wants STRONG mental and physical effects above all else – $30 for 3 seeds
  • Auto Amnesia by MSNL – Forgiving and easy to grow, buds always come out glittery and potent. I’ve grown this strain multiple times and it responds remarkably well to every light I’ve tried including cheap “blurple” LEDs that stressed out many of the other plants. In fact, Auto Amnesia almost seems to perform best in extreme conditions as some of the best buds came from a plant that grew too close to the light. The one downside is that plants tend to grow a bit stretchy/tall compared to the others on this list (though they respond well to bending/LST to keep them short and are resistant to light stress). As long as you stay on top of bending, it’s a great choice for a space bucket – $40 for 5 seeds

I love Auto Amnesia every time I grow it (big or small setups)

A bud from the Auto Amnesia after being dried and cured

  • Auto Grand Daddy Purple by MSNL – I’ve had really good experiences with all of the MSNL autoflowering strains. This particular strain often turns purple and buds come out dense with stellar effects and a spicy-sweet smell. You can help promote purple coloring by giving plants warm days and cool nights in the last 2-3 weeks before harvest – $52 for 5 seeds
  • THC Bomb Auto by Bomb Seeds – I’m super impressed by this strain every time I grow it. It thrives under many different types of lights and plants grow fast and bushy. Good-to-great yields and the buds get encrusted in trichomes/glitter. I actually got two of these plants lab-tested (as part of a different project) and buds measured between 18-20% THC, exactly as advertised – $50 for 5 seeds

I’ve grown THC Bomb Auto several times, and it always makes fat buds with strong effects

  • Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion – I first grew this strain after a representative from the company told me it was Dutch Passion’s most potent autoflowering strain. I was beyond pleased with the results I got every time I grew it. Dense and glittery buds, high-yielding, ultra-high potency (couchlock) and plants are overall forgiving to growing mistakes – $40 for 3 seeds
  • Ultimate Auto by Dutch Passion – easy to grow, very high yielding (usually yields more than any other plant grown in the same conditions), and has responded well to multiple different grow lights. The smooth-smoking buds promote relaxation and good vibes. The perfect daytime strain (not too heavy) and well-loved by those looking for more classic mental effects. The potency has been described as reminiscent of California weed from the 1990s and early 2000s – $35 for 3 seeds

An Ultimate Auto plant. This strain yields well no matter how you grow it. This one was grown under only 100W.

  • Any strain by Mephisto Genetics – Mephisto specializes in autoflowering strains. For some of their strains, I’ve had so-so yields and slow germination, but I’m still never disappointed. Why? It’s a matter of quality over quantity. Mephisto buds always look amazing, smell like paradise, and produce outstanding effects. In my opinion, that’s worth a little extra leeway – Price Varies and options change frequently

Ekrof explains how to start growing marijuana for about $100 using a technique known as "Space Buckets"