Pots vs Raised Beds--What’s Right for Me?

As the cannabis industry moves towards nationwide legalization, many growers are chasing the quick dollar of sales through cannabis production efforts that focus more on quantity than quality. And the fallout has been steep. A flood of inferior products has sparked new calls for manufacturing regulation and compliance. Some see this as a movement towards cannabis industry legitimacy and consumer safety.

Increased regulation/compliance is pushing legal recreational and medicinal cannabis cultivators towards accountability. But some companies, like yours, have opted for even higher standards and product safety by using organic growing methods. These methods emphasize a connection with natural ecosystems, minimal environmental strain, and efforts to protect consumers by minimizing chemical components.

So you’ve already decided to make quality cannabis production the center of your business model. You’ve determined that the best growing medium for your cannabis cultivation is soil. Living soil. Soil that allows your plants to have optimal growth using the ecosystem designed by nature. Mainly because you realize that no one can do it better than Mother Nature.

But you may still be wondering where to put that soil. Should you grow cannabis in containers or in raised beds?

Here are a few things to consider about each of these options.

Revisit your cannabis growing plan and add research (if necessary)

Well, whether you are a smaller, at-home operation or interested in expanding into commercial cannabis production to serve a larger population, much of your decision rests upon the grow plan already in place for your business.

Key factors to explore might include:

  • How large is your growing facility?
  • What kind of cannabis strain(s) are you cultivating?
  • * Do you know what the typical growth potential for this cannabis plant breed is (how big [wide/tall], yield amount, favorable growth conditions)?
  • How much initial capital do you have to invest in creating your marijuana growing space?

Knowing the details of what kind of cannabis you plan to grow and where you plan to house your growing operation is critical in moving forward to determine the best outcomes. Use your research and cannabis grow plan to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each cannabis growing system.

But the main distinction between using containers to house your cannabis growing operation and using raised beds ties into your desire for CONTROL.

Advantages of Containers

Advantages of using containers in your cannabis grow facility

If your need for control is high and you want a very hands-on approach in your grow experience, you might be more interested in cultivating your pot in a pot. Here are three great reasons some nurseries like using containers to grow cannabis:

Benefit #1: Control of Financial Investment

On average, growing cannabis in containers is better for those with limited start-up capital. It works well because of the lower initial costs. There are many kinds of containers a company can consider for growing needs. Some of the newer, more plant-friendly options can be pretty pricey, so keep this in mind when calculating expenses.

Benefit #2: Control of Space

Many craft-cannabis producers operate out of smaller, more personalized facilities. Situations like these may require growers to move or rearrange plants for optimal space utilization. Using containers makes this less challenging. They allow versatility for growth and maintenance needs, like transplanting and basic care.

Benefit #3: Control of Maintenance

One of the biggest perks of growing your marijuana in containers is single plant accessibility. This may connect with increased maintenance, transplanting, or treatment needs. It is so much easier to get to a single plant when each one is in an individual container. Often, a container-based grow facility also finds it is easier to implement more frequent sanitation and pest control options.

Challenges of Growing in Containers

Challenges of growing cannabis in containers

Of course, limitations and restrictions sometimes go hand in hand with the idea of control. If you opt to use containers for your cannabis grow operation, prepare to make up for the lower initial investment costs in areas of time and labor. For example, individual pots must be sanitized/washed every grow cycle and complete soil replacement is a high probability. Container growing requires more hands-on, consistent care to promote optimal plant health. This is particularly true in areas of root development. And some growers like it that way. Control.

But if high levels of control are not high on your list of cannabis growing requirements and start-up capital is not a limiting factor, you might be more willing to explore letting your ladies flower in a comfy (raised) bed.

Advantages of Raised Beds

Advantages of using raised beds to grow cannabis

When a nursery opts to use raised beds to grow cannabis, many limitations disappear. Growers are at liberty to create conditions that promote plant development. Here are some freedoms that accompany raised bed cannabis cultivation.

Benefit #1: Freedom with Maintenance

Most growing facilities find that watering or irrigation needs are easier to fulfill in a raised bed growing operation. The structure and spacing of a raised bed allow fora more natural maintenance system for cannabis plants. Raised beds also have better drainage and water distribution for plant development.This also means that sanitation efforts are usually less intensive when transitioning to new grow cycles in raised beds.

Benefit #2: Freedom to Implement Stationary Long-term Growth Plans

Once cultivators figure out the right soil mixture, the right growing structure, and the right plants, it makes sense to want to repeat the success. Using a raised bed to grow cannabis makes this task easier to complete .For one, soil and beds can be re-used from one growing season to the next. Although the soil may need to be amended in some capacity, the large majority of soil can carry over. This means that you can use the healthy ecosystem from a successful crop to boost the quality of future production. Additionally, the ability to recycle soil means that you are saving thousands of dollars every month in labor and supplies.

Benefit #3: Freedom of Natural Growth

So, the biggest perk of using raised beds for growing cannabis is that the plant has the freedom to do what a plant does best. Grow. Plants want room to grow--both down and up (out). Using raised beds provides ample space for root growth, which can lead to larger plants, larger yields. Plants also like community building “conversations”. They enjoy hanging out next to each other. These homogeneous community conversations impact behavioral responses, like growth activity and general health in positive ways.

Challenges of Raised Beds

Challenges of growing cannabis in a raised bed

Although cultivating cannabis in raised beds holds some challenges, most of these work themselves out in the long run. For example, when a grower chooses to use raised bed structures, there are higher start-up costs associated with building the structure and amount of soil needed.

However, the pay off generally comes with long-term use of structures, soil and optimal plant yields. An increased possibility for pests and sanitation issues are other challenges that may surface. But proper soil and nutrient investments should reduce these problems.

The decision is yours: Homogenous raised beds or isolated containers?

Overall, raised beds work most effectively in flower rooms, while containers make more sense for vegetative rooms, where plant movement is more common and often more necessary. In any container-based grow space, be sure to use 3-5 gallon pots to create the best growing conditions for your cannabis. This ensures that your root systems have sufficient room to develop and that you have the ability to move plants around as they grow. It’s pretty easy to understand how using raised beds works best for the flower room of your grow operation. During this stage, the cannabis shifts energy to mass flower production and needs the natural growth freedom provided by raised beds.

So if you are looking to produce your best cannabis crop and need to know which path is the right one, use this info to help you figure it out. Whether you want to grow your cannabis in a pot or in a raised bed, the key is to tap into your business vision. Look at your company’s cannabis grow plan. Be sure to do the research on your desired strain to help with decision-making. Keep in mind that you can mitigate many of the disadvantages mentioned for either growing option with quality living soil components and diligent maintenance.

Transplanting Cannabis

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Whole Grow is a proud member of these organizations

  • National Cannabis Industry Association
  • Cannabis Clinicians Colorado