Home Improvement – Money Crashers

Home Improvement – Money Crashers

Home Improvement – Money Crashers
Personal Finance Guide to Turn the Tables on Money

5 Home Vegetable Garden Ideas & Types You Can Start on a Budget
<p>A <a href=””>home vegetable garden</a>&nbsp;can have all kinds of benefits for your health and wallet. It offers a chance to <a href=””>save money on groceries</a>&nbsp;while enjoying homegrown flavor and freshness. It can also be a way to <a href=””>eat organic on a budget</a>&nbsp;and try new varieties of produce you can’t get at the store. And gardening itself is a healthy outdoor activity that can provide exercise, relaxation, and fun.</p><p>Yet despite all its rewards, most Americans don’t grow their own produce. According to a 2014 report by the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>National Gardening Association</a>, only about 1 in 3 American households grew food in 2013, either at home or in a community garden.</p>
<p>People cite various reasons for avoiding gardening as a hobby. Some people, especially apartment dwellers, don’t have a lot of space to grow their own food. Others don’t have a lot of time. And for some, the cost of gardening — which a 2014 study in the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Journal of Extension</a>&nbsp;put at $238 for one year — is an issue.</p>
<p>Fortunately, each of these problems has a solution. It’s all a matter of choosing the right kind of garden — one that fits the amount of space, time, and money you have to spare.</p>
<h2 id=”h.khagwqw6c4ci”>Types of Gardens</h2>
<p>Each type of vegetable garden has its own unique set of pros and cons. Some gardens are cheaper than others but require more space or time to maintain. Some fit into small spaces but can’t produce a lot of food. Some types of gardens are more labor-intensive, and some are better than others for growing specific crops.</p>
<p>However, no rule says you have to limit yourself to just one garden type. If you have space, you can maximize your benefits by maintaining separate gardens for different crops. For instance, you could have a window garden for herbs, a container garden for tomatoes, and a small raised bed for squash.</p>
<h3 id=”h.blssrzkgcwta”>1. In-Ground Beds</h3>
<p>The simplest type of vegetable garden is a patch of plants set directly into the ground. This type of garden requires no expensive materials to set up, especially if you have good soil to start. It’s easy to get started since there’s nothing to build.</p>
<p>However, this type of garden needs plenty of space. According to biointensive gardening guru John Jeavons’ “<a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>How to Grow More Vegetables</a>,” you need about 200 square feet of garden space to grow enough fruit and vegetables for one person (via <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The Spruce</a>). So, for a family of four, you should plan to plant an 800-square-foot garden.</p>
<p>But that’s only enough space to supply your needs for produce during the growing season. It won’t provide all the food you need or give you extra produce to store for the winter. To supply all your food needs, you need a much larger space — about 4,000 square feet per person.</p>
<p>In-ground beds also need a moderate amount of maintenance. They don’t dry out as quickly as raised beds, so they don’t need watering as often. However, they have no barriers to keep out weeds or pests, so they can require more work to keep these problems at bay.</p>
<h4 id=”h.tdu6w64cl4df”>What You Can Grow</h4>
<p>What kinds of crops you can grow with in-ground beds depends on the quality of your soil. The best type of soil for gardening is loam — a crumbly, nutrient-rich soil that absorbs water well. You can tell if you have this kind of soil by squeezing a handful of dirt in your hand. If it holds its shape briefly before falling apart, your soil has just the right texture for growing nearly any kind of vegetable.</p>
<p>Even if you aren’t blessed with this kind of naturally superb soil, you can still plant an in-ground garden. However, you’ll have to either amend your soil, which can be expensive, or grow crops that thrive in the type of soil you have.</p>
<p>For instance, if you squeeze a handful of dirt and it stays clumped, that means you have clay soil. As <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Dave’s Garden</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>GrowVeg</a>&nbsp;explain, clay soil is rich in nutrients. However, its dense texture doesn’t give plant roots a lot of breathing room, and it doesn’t drain well. You can amend clay soil and make it closer to loam by breaking up the clumps and adding lots of organic matter, such as compost, shredded leaves, straw, or peat moss. Or you can choose plants that naturally flourish in clay soil, such as lettuce, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, and squash.</p>
<p>On the other hand, if a handful of dirt squeezed in your hand falls apart immediately, you have sandy soil. It’s light, fast-draining, and quick to warm up in the spring, according to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Proven Winners</a>. But it doesn’t hold water or nutrients well. Your plants will do better if you enrich the soil with organic matter, water frequently, and use mulch to hold in moisture. According to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>GrowVeg</a>, vegetables that perform well in sand include root vegetables with long taproots, such as carrots and parsnips, and early spring greens.</p>
<h4 id=”h.ya5ced4uud7o”>What You Need</h4>
<p>You can start an in-ground garden with very little equipment. All you need is a <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>hand tiller</a>&nbsp;to turn the soil, a trowel, and some seeds. If rainfall isn’t consistent in your area, add a watering can or garden hose to this list for watering your crops.</p>
<p>However, if your garden soil is less than ideal — and most soil is — you also need to amend it with compost every year. If you want to grow vining plants, such as squash or tomatoes, you must provide some sort of support for them, which could be a trellis, stakes and twine, or cages. Finally, a small fence of stones, bricks, or wood can be useful for holding water in the garden area, especially after heavy rainfall.</p>
<h4 id=”h.duaw8n8re94w”>What It Costs</h4>
<p>The cost of starting your first in-ground garden depends on its size and the quality of your soil. Suppose you’re planting an 800-square-foot garden like the one Julia Clem recommends in <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Best Pick Reports</a>. It includes 15 crops:</p>
<li>20 to 30 feet of beets (planted in a row)</li>
<li>10 to 15 bell pepper plants</li>
<li>12 to 15 broccoli plants</li>
<li>12 to 16 feet of carrots</li>
<li>40 to 50 cornstalks</li>
<li>4 to 6 cucumber plants, or 2 to 4 vines</li>
<li>6 to 8 eggplants</li>
<li>15 to 20 feet of kale</li>
<li>20 to 30 feet of lettuce</li>
<li>4 to 6 melon vines</li>
<li>40 to 50 potato plants</li>
<li>30 to 40 feet of spinach</li>
<li>4 to 6 squash plants</li>
<li>5 to 8 tomato plants</li>
<li>4 to 8 zucchini&nbsp;plants</li>
<p>Based on the calculators provided by <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>McGill Compost</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Green Mountain Compost</a>, a garden this size needs 2.5 cubic yards of compost. That means somewhere between 67 and 99 bags of compost unless you choose to <a href=””>make your own compost</a>. It also requires 13 to 26 wire cages for the tomato plants, squash, melons, and possibly cucumbers. The cheapest way to acquire&nbsp;them is to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>build your own plant cages</a>&nbsp;from&nbsp;wire stakes and fencing.</p>
<p>Prices for these items can vary based on what region of the country you live in and where you shop. Based on prices listed at Home Depot in the Northeast, your first-year costs for this garden would be approximately:</p>
<li>About 85 bags of compost: $255</li>
<li>Seeds for 15 different crops: $25</li>
<li>Tools (which you can then use year after year): $45</li>
<li>Wire fencing and stakes for cages (also reusable): $160</li>
<li><strong>Total: $485</strong></li>
<p>It’s a significant investment, but it pays off in fresh produce. According to the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Vegetable Value Calculator</a>&nbsp;from, an 800-square-foot garden with these 15 crops can produce over 700 pounds of veggies and fruit worth more than $2,000. Based solely on your financial costs, that’s a potential profit of more than $1,500 in your first year.</p>
<p>However, if you want to count the value of your time as an expense, that’s much harder to calculate. The amount of time you spend in the garden can vary widely. For instance, rainfall in your area affects how much time you spend watering, and weeds and pests are also tougher to deal with in some areas than others.</p>
<p>However, you can get a rough idea of the time commitment from the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Fresh Legacy</a>&nbsp;blog. Blogger Kyrstie says she maintains a garden roughly 430 square feet in size and spends about 85 hours per year maintaining it. If you assume an 800-square-foot garden would take about twice as much work, that’s 170 hours, which is like earning a tax-free <a href=””>hourly wage</a>&nbsp;of $8.82. So, even if you see gardening as a chore, it’s one that pays significantly better than <a href=””>minimum wage</a>. And if you see it as an enjoyable hobby, the money you save is just the icing on the cake.</p>
<h3 id=”h.vtng1j4jdq9″>2. Raised Beds</h3>
<p>If you don’t have very good soil in your yard, you can save yourself the work of tilling and improving it by building boxed raised beds and filling them with purchased soil. Raising your beds off the ground helps them drain better and warm up faster in spring, lengthening your growing season. Also, because your beds are clearly defined and you don’t have to step inside them to work, you avoid compacting the soil, which keeps your plants healthier.</p>
<p>A typical raised bed measures 6 to 8 feet long, 3 to 6 feet wide, and 6 to 8 inches high. However, you can either add legs or build a base from bricks or cinder blocks to raise your beds as high as waist height, allowing seniors and people with disabilities to garden without stooping. You can also add fixed trellises to your beds to support vining crops. Trellises can nearly double the usable space in each bed by allowing your plants to grow up rather than out.</p>
<p>Raised beds cost more to set up initially than in-ground beds. However, they can be cheaper to maintain in the long run. Because the garden space is contained, water, fertilizer, compost, and mulch are less likely to run off and go to waste. And, because the soil doesn’t get compacted, your garden may not need as much organic material added each year to improve soil quality.</p>
<p>One garden chore you’ll have to do more often in raised beds is watering. Raised beds drain faster than in-ground beds, so you must keep an eye on your plants to make sure they don’t dry out.</p>
<h4 id=”h.n2sfnvhd02pf”>What You Can Grow</h4>
<p>Because raised beds are limited in size, most gardeners who have them use the block-planting method, laying out crops in squares rather than rows. Block planting, also known as intensive gardening, involves spacing the plants closer together than row gardening. That increases your yield per square foot and helps crowd out weeds, saving you work.</p>
<p>However, this gardening method doesn’t work well for all crops. For instance, according to the <a target=”_blank” href=”;title=Raised%20Beds%20vs.%20In-Ground%20Gardens” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>University of Georgia Extension</a>, sweet corn isn’t a good choice for compact raised beds because you need to plant large blocks of it for proper pollination — too large for a typical raised bed.&nbsp;And based on my own experience, large melons and squash, such as the larger varieties of pumpkins and watermelons, can be too heavy to grow on a trellis and too sprawling to contain in a small space.</p>
<p>Aside from these limits, you can grow nearly any vegetable in a raised bed. In fact, you can tailor the conditions in your beds to meet the needs of the crops inside them. For instance, if you have some crops that like very light soil and some that prefer dense soil, you can grow them in separate beds and amend the soil in each one to suit their needs.</p>
<p>For more information about block planting and other methods, read our article on <a href=””>gardening tips and ideas</a>.</p>
<h4 id=”h.2se1gt3xyf7j”>What You Need</h4>
<p>A raised-bed garden requires the same seeds and tools as an in-ground garden of similar size, plus the materials to build and fill the boxed beds. You can buy <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>ready-to-assemble boxed bed kits</a>&nbsp;from home centers and garden supply stores, but these can cost anywhere from $45 to over $200&nbsp;for a 4-foot-by-4-foot bed. Building your own is generally a cheaper option.</p>
<p>There are plenty of plans online showing how to build your own raised beds from scratch. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>EarthEasy</a>&nbsp;offers plans for a 4-foot-by-8-foot bed made of rot-resistant cedar boards. <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Lowe’s</a>&nbsp;shows how to build beds from inexpensive two-by-four lumber, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>My Outdoor Plans</a>&nbsp;has a plan for an elevated raised bed with legs. If your bed isn’t elevated, adding a layer of <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>steel-mesh hardware cloth</a>&nbsp;to the bottom can help keep out burrowing pests. An additional lining of <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>landscape fabric</a>&nbsp;or newspaper helps deter weeds.</p>
<p>Once you have the beds, you need soil and soil amendments to fill them. You can calculate the volume you need by simply multiplying the length, width, and depth as measured in feet. Thus, a bed 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 8 inches deep can hold about 21 cubic feet of material.</p>
<p><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Gardeners’ Supply Company</a>&nbsp;recommends filling your beds with a mixture of 60% <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>topsoil</a>, 30% <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>compost</a>, and 10% <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>potting soil</a><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>.</a>&nbsp;You can buy these materials in bags at any garden center. If you have a large volume to fill, some garden centers also sell <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>bulk compost</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>bulk topsoil</a>&nbsp;by the cubic yard and deliver it to your home.</p>
<h4 id=”h.bauzcr7c0fw3″>What It Costs</h4>
<p>When you garden intensively&nbsp;with the block planting method, it doesn’t take as much space to feed a family. Rosalind Creasy, one of the pioneers of <a href=””>edible landscaping</a>, wrote in a 2010 <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Mother Earth News</a>&nbsp;article that her first intensively planted garden, which measured just 100 square feet, produced around 236 pounds of produce in its first year. A garden three times this size would match the production of the 800-square-foot in-ground garden described above.</p>
<p>Of course, Creasy is an experienced gardener, so you probably won’t get results like these in your first year. Still, her results show it’s possible to feed a family of four with about 300 square feet of raised garden beds. That’s roughly nine beds if they’re each 4-by-8 feet. If you built your own raised beds using the Lowe’s plan, your costs based on the prices at Home Depot in the Northeast would be:</p>
<li>90 (10-foot) two-by-fours: $720</li>
<li>1 pound of deck screws: $10</li>
<li>113 cubic feet of topsoil: $200</li>
<li>57 cubic feet of compost: $170</li>
<li>19 cubic feet of potting soil: $210</li>
<li>Seeds for 15 different crops: $25</li>
<li>Tools : $45</li>
<li><strong>Total: $1,380</strong></li>
<p>As you can see, the initial cost for this raised-bed garden is quite a bit higher than for an in-ground garden. However, it should pay you back in its first year with more than $2,000 worth of produce.</p>
<p>After that, you can reuse the boxes, tools, and soil. Your only ongoing costs will be $195 per year for fresh compost and seeds.</p>
<h3 id=”h.c2d7wg8hjynp”>3. Container Gardens</h3>
<p>If you’re short on outdoor space, a <a href=””>container garden</a>&nbsp;could be your best choice. Container gardening means just what it sounds like: growing plants in containers rather than planting them in the ground. You can grow a container garden in the tiniest of yards, or even without a yard at all. Any outdoor space that gets several hours of daily sunlight, such as a patio, deck, balcony, or rooftop, can hold a few pots of tomatoes and greens.</p>
<p>Container gardening can save you time as well as space. Because your plants don’t go into the ground, you don’t need to prepare the soil or weed the crops. However, since potted plants can only hold a limited amount of water, you have to water your crops more often.</p>
<p>Keeping plants in containers also makes it easier to give them what they need. You can move the pots around your yard throughout the year — or even throughout the day — to make sure they always get the proper amount of sunlight. When meteorologists predict harsh weather, such as a severe frost, you can cover the pots or even bring them inside temporarily. You can also cover them at night to protect them from animals.</p>
<h4 id=”h.n9nfi6ddq37u”>What You Can Grow</h4>
<p>The most significant limitation of container gardening is that it limits the amount of space your plants’ roots have to spread out. Of course, you can grow almost anything if your container is large enough. However, for large plants like corn, you’d need either such large containers or so many of them you’d lose most of the benefits of container gardening.</p>
<p>According to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Gardener’s Path</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The Spruce</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Better Homes &amp; Gardens</a>, these plants can all grow well in appropriately sized pots:</p>
<li><strong>Beets</strong>: 12 inches deep</li>
<li><strong>Cucumbers</strong>: 5 gallons for two plants</li>
<li><strong>Eggplant</strong>: 5 gallons for one plant</li>
<li><strong>Beans</strong>: 12 inches deep</li>
<li><strong>Lettuce and Other Greens</strong>: 6 to 8 inches deep</li>
<li><strong>Onions</strong>: 4 inches deep</li>
<li><strong>Peas</strong>: 5 gallons for multiple plants</li>
<li><strong>Peppers (Sweet or Hot)</strong>: 12 inches deep</li>
<li><strong>Radishes</strong>: Any size</li>
<li><strong>Squash</strong>: 5 gallons for one winter squash or two summer squashes</li>
<li><strong>Tomatoes</strong>: 12 inches deep</li>
<p>However, some of these plants need special care to grow well in containers. Tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, and some peppers and beans grow best with a trellis or other form of support added to the pot. Tomatoes also need protection from cold, and peppers need consistent water levels. Squash needs a large container and plenty of light, water, and fertilizer.</p>
<h4 id=”h.ns6o306ln990″>What You Need</h4>
<p>Nearly any type of container can hold a plant as long as it’s large enough and has drainage holes to let water escape. You can use plastic or clay pots, fabric <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>grow bags</a>, hanging baskets, or wooden barrels. You can also <a href=””>repurpose</a>&nbsp;containers such as plastic tubs, takeout containers, trash cans, or buckets.</p>
<p>In addition to containers, you need soil to fill them. Using plain topsoil isn’t a good idea, as it doesn’t drain well and can also make your containers too heavy to move easily. &nbsp;According to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Better Homes &amp; Gardens</a>, a good type to use is a potting mix made from 8 parts potting soil (with perlite or vermiculite included), 4 parts compost or peat moss, and 1 part coarse sand to improve drainage.</p>
<p>As for tools, all you need is a hand trowel and a watering can or hose. And of course, you need either&nbsp;seeds or seedlings to put into your pots.</p>
<h4 id=”h.l5qoigbty6o”>What It Costs</h4>
<p>The cost to start a container garden depends on how many plants you want and what types of containers you put them in. Let’s suppose you’re creating a small patio garden with just five containers — one each for tomatoes, beans, eggplant, peppers, and lettuce. Your costs, based on Home Depot Northeast pricing, will include:</p>
<li>Five (5-gallon) grow bags: $20</li>
<li>20 gallons of potting soil: $25</li>
<li>10 gallons of compost: $5</li>
<li>2.5 gallons of coarse sand: $7</li>
<li>Trellis netting and stakes to support the tomatoes and beans: $25</li>
<li>Seeds: $12</li>
<li>Tools: $6</li>
<li><strong>Total: $100</strong></li>
<p>You can reuse the grow bags, tools, and trellis materials from year to year. However, you’ll have to add fresh potting mix each year, as the original potting soil gets depleted of nutrients.</p>
<p>Although this garden has a very low initial cost, it also won’t provide nearly as much produce as a larger in-ground or raised-bed garden. However, based on calculations from <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The Spruce</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Vegetable Growers News</a>, even this small garden could provide as much as 25 pounds of tomatoes, 3 to 4 pounds of peppers, 150 pole beans, 12 eggplants, and three or four heads of lettuce. According to the Vegetable Value Calculator, that’s about $157 worth of produce — enough for your garden to pay for itself and then some.</p>
<h3 id=”h.3pziufjxuryc”>4. Window Boxes</h3>
<p>One special type of container garden, called a window box, requires no outdoor space at all to grow. All you need is a good-size window that gets plenty of sun. With a window box, even apartment dwellers can enjoy the savings, fun, and homegrown flavor of gardening.</p>
<p>A window box is a long, narrow planter that hangs either outside a window or off the side of a deck. These shallow boxes can’t accommodate very many plants or very large ones, but on the plus side, they also require very little maintenance. There’s no digging, no tilling, and no weeding involved. However, the plants do need regular watering to keep their roots from drying out.</p>
<h4 id=”h.4xbrkyb3qkdw”>What You Can Grow</h4>
<p>Many Americans’ favorite vegetable crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, are simply too big to fit in a window box. However, there are quite a few shallow-rooted crops that can grow perfectly well in a window box. According to <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Fine Gardening</a>&nbsp;and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Better Homes and </a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Gardens</a>, appropriate choices include lettuce and other greens, radishes, beets, and some types of beans. Even carrots can work if you choose a short variety.</p>
<p>Window boxes are also ideal for growing fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, basil, chives, thyme, and marjoram. These delicate plants can be quite expensive to buy at the store, and they often come in larger bunches than you need, so most of it goes to waste. Growing fresh herbs in a window box and snipping them off as required gets you a big bang for your gardening buck.</p>
<h4 id=”h.uymi6mmzncdt”>What You Need</h4>
<p>A window box requires fewer supplies than just about any other type of garden. All you need is a suitable box planter, brackets to hold it in place, potting mix to fill it, seeds, and water. Some crops can benefit from a dose of slow-release fertilizer, but it isn’t essential. Even a trowel is optional since you can plant in these small boxes with your bare hands.</p>
<h4 id=”h.ho26g7phmzi0″>What It Costs</h4>
<p>Window box planters vary significantly in size, material, and cost. You can spend over $100 on a 4-foot wide <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>teak box planter</a> or pay less than $18 for a 3 foot wide <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>plastic planter</a>. Choose any container you like, as long as it’s well drained, fits your window, and stands up well to the elements.</p>
<p>Let’s say you have a 30-inch window and want to grow five crops in your window box: lettuce, oregano, dill, thyme, and parsley. Your expenses will include:</p>

<p>Once you have the box, you can keep using it year after year. However, you need to replace the potting mix and seeds each year for an additional $24.</p>
<p>It’s difficult to calculate the exact yield from a box like this. Typically, you don’t harvest herbs or lettuce from a window box all at once: you take a leaf here or a sprig there as you need it. However, let’s assume that without this box, you’d need to buy a $2 package of fresh herbs once per week throughout a 32-week growing season. At that rate, your box would pay for itself in its first year and would save you up to $40 per year after that.</p>
<h3 id=”h.blvukzltxkg3″>5. Community Gardens</h3>
<p>If you’re an apartment dweller wishing for a bigger garden than your little window box, a <a href=””>community garden</a>&nbsp;plot could be the solution. Community gardens are shared areas where neighbors can plant and grow vegetables and flowers together. They can be located on vacant lots, on rooftops, in public parks, at schools and universities, and on business campuses.</p>
<p>Typically, community gardens have both a common gathering area and a bunch of individual plots. People living in the neighborhood can sign up for one of these plots as their personal garden space. You choose what to grow in your own plot, and you’re responsible for keeping it neat and presentable.</p>
<h4 id=”h.f7wceossw1e3″>What You Can Grow</h4>
<p>Community gardens can have either in-ground beds or raised beds. In theory, you can grow anything you could grow in the same type of garden at home.</p>
<p>However, most community gardens have some limitations. For one thing, you only get one plot of limited size. There’s no standard size for community garden plots; <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>North Carolina State Extension</a>&nbsp;suggests that community garden organizers make them anywhere between 100 and 500 square feet. However, Carolyn Beans writes on <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>NPR’s The Salt</a>&nbsp;about tending a community garden plot that was no more than a single 4-foot-by-8-foot raised bed. Thus, you have to scale back your ambitions to fit the scope of the available space.</p>
<p>Also, community gardens can have their own rules about what crops are allowed. For instance, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Ewing Community Gardens</a>&nbsp; bars members from growing any crops tall enough to shade another member’s plot.&nbsp;It also bans all potentially invasive crops, such as castor beans, bamboo, morning glories, and mint.</p>
<p>Finally, you need to consider how much attention your crops require. When your garden is a few blocks from your home rather than right outside the door, it’s harder to tend it every day. Thus, it’s a good idea to focus on low-maintenance crops that don’t need constant weeding, watering, or harvesting. According to <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The Spruce</a>, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The Creative Vegetable Gardener</a>, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Tenth Acre Farm</a>, good choices include:</p>
<li>Basil and other herbs</li>
<li>Kale and other leafy greens</li>
<li>Peppers, especially hot ones</li>
<li>Tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes</li>
<h4 id=”h.rtvuq0a68gk5″>What You Need</h4>
<p>You can only grow food in a community garden if there is one in your area. To find one, do an Internet search for “community gardens near me.” You can also look for nearby community gardening groups on <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Meetup</a>.</p>
<p>If you don’t find a local garden this way, try asking around at places in your neighborhood that might host one. That includes schools, colleges, universities, office parks, and your town’s parks and recreation department. Your local library may also have some information.</p>
<p>Finding a nearby community garden doesn’t guarantee you a spot in it. Plots are often in high demand, and many community gardens have long waiting lists. Some limit eligibility to people who live within a very narrow radius of the garden to keep the list down.</p>
<p>If you’re lucky enough to secure a garden plot, you have your space and soil all ready to go. Some community gardens also have a <a href=””>shared collection of tools</a>&nbsp;and make their own compost on-site. If your local garden is one of them, the only thing you have to buy yourself is the seeds. However, if you want to add extras to your garden plot, such as a trellis or a layer of mulch, you might have to pay for them yourself.</p>
<h4 id=”h.40ey0vkfpljx”>What It Costs</h4>
<p>The cost of using a community garden varies. Some community gardens charge an annual membership fee to cover their expenses. Others get their funding from grants, sponsorships, or tax revenues and are free to their members.</p>
<p>In addition to membership costs, you must supply your own seeds. These typically cost between $1 and $5 per packet. However, you can reduce this cost by shopping online, saving seeds from your crops to plant next year, and <a href=””>swapping seeds</a>&nbsp;with other gardeners.</p>
<p>In some cases, you can even grow food from scraps&nbsp;of organic produce you’ve bought at the grocery store. For example, you can allow store-bought potatoes to develop “eyes,” cut the potatoes in half, and plant them. You can also plant the root ends of scallions (green onions) after using the green parts. Eventually, a new scallion will grow up from the root.</p>
<p>The amount of produce you can get from a community garden plot depends on its size. If you have a 100-square-foot plot&nbsp;and grow your crops intensively like Rosalind Creasy, you can hope to match her yield of 236 pounds of produce. That’s around $700 worth of food for the cost of some seeds — and all the hours of work you put into tending your beds.</p>
<h2 id=”h.6lmmzoo0jrt9″>Final Word</h2>
<p>If you’re new to gardening, there’s one crucial thing to know before you get started: Not every crop you plant will succeed. Failures are a normal part of gardening. It’s tempting to go out and spend a lot of money on fancy gardening tools and equipment that promise guaranteed results, but sadly, there’s no such thing.</p>
<p>If you really want to maximize your chances for success, what you need is knowledge. You’ll learn a lot as you go along about what works and what doesn’t in your particular garden space. However, you can speed up the process by reading gardening books, websites, and discussion groups. Whenever you have a gardening problem, just do an Internet search, and you’re sure to find advice from other gardeners who’ve dealt with the same thing.</p>
<p>Aside from that, the best way to make your garden flourish is to take care of it. Give it plenty of water and good compost, weed it regularly, and protect it from pests. Keep an eye on your produce, and harvest them as soon as they’re ripe so they don’t go to seed.</p>
<p>If you’re lucky enough to find that your garden is producing faster than you can eat the yield, look into ways to preserve your harvest. Often, you can <a href=””>keep produce fresh longer</a>&nbsp;simply by storing it properly. If you still can’t keep up with your garden’s production, try <a href=””>preserving your produce</a>&nbsp;through canning, drying, pickling, or freezing. These techniques allow you to enjoy homegrown veggies all winter long.</p>
<p>Which type of garden would you choose?</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:35:40 +0000 Amy Livingston
Family & Home
Food & Drink
Go Green
Home Improvement

How to Have a Seed Swap With Other Gardeners in Your Community
<p>My husband and I are avid gardeners. Our yard isn’t huge, but it’s big enough for a 100-square-foot <a href=””>vegetable garden</a>&nbsp;that provides us with fresh produce and helps us <a href=””>eat organically on a budget</a>.</p><p>As much as we love our garden, we’re often frustrated that many gardening products are tailored to people with much larger plots. For instance, even when we buy the smallest packet of seeds available, it’s often more than our small-scale garden can use. Although you can always save the extra seeds for next year, sometimes one packet is enough to last several years, and you can’t store all seeds that long.</p>
<p>In addition to extra seeds, spare seedlings can also be a problem. When you start plants indoors, it makes sense to grow a few extras to ensure enough healthy seedlings survive. Sometimes, you end up with more than you need, and it seems a shame to throw away living, thriving young plants.</p>
<p>As it turns out, there’s a solution to both these problems: a seed swap. Rather than letting your extra seeds and seedlings go to waste, you can share them with others while also picking up free seeds and seedlings for your own garden.</p>
<h2 id=”h.s39at82k9wfx”>How Seed Swaps Work</h2>
<p>Seed swaps, also called seed exchanges, are a part of the ever-expanding <a href=””>sharing economy</a>, a network of people who save money by sharing products and services instead of buying and selling them. In a seed exchange, gardeners get together to swap their unused seeds for others they can use.</p>
<p>Gardeners can contribute seeds they’ve harvested from their own plants, seeds from crops they no longer care to grow, or leftover seeds they don’t have time to use.</p>
<p>You can also exchange seedlings or cuttings from plants. Some gardeners even dig up unwanted plants from their yards to offer to others who can use them.</p>
<p>Seed swaps fall into three main categories:</p>
<li><strong>Seed Libraries</strong>. A seed lending library maintains a “catalog” of seeds members can take home and use in their gardens. Unlike borrowers who check out a book from a regular library, they don’t have to return the same seeds they borrowed. Instead, they can pay the library back with any seeds saved from their own harvest. One well-known seed library is the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library</a>&nbsp;in Richmond, California. However, there are more than 500 other seed libraries around the world.</li>
<li><strong>Local Gatherings</strong>. This type of seed swap is an informal gathering of neighbors with a common interest in gardening. One benefit of a local exchange is that all the seeds are likely to be crops that work well in your microclimate — the specific growing conditions in your area. If your next-door neighbors always have a flourishing garden, you can try out some of their crops in your own yard.</li>
<li><strong>Online Exchanges</strong>. Another way to exchange seeds with your neighbors is through online groups set up for this purpose on sites like Facebook or Nextdoor. If you don’t have many fellow gardeners to swap with in your area, you can join a national group like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Seed Savers Exchange</a>&nbsp;and trade seeds with gardeners worldwide.</li>
<h2 id=”h.i4mfwrivczif”>Pros &amp; Cons of Seed Swaps</h2>
<p>Sharing seeds with other gardeners has many advantages over buying your own.</p>
<li><strong>Save Money</strong>. A single packet of vegetable seeds can cost anywhere from $1 to $10. If your garden contains around 25 different crops, as ours does, that adds up to between $25 and $250 a year. If you can get just half your garden seeds by trading with other gardeners, you can save $7 to $125 each gardening season.</li>
<li><strong>Find New Varieties</strong>. If you buy your vegetable seeds in a store, your choices are often limited to the few most popular varieties for any given crop. Seed catalogs offer more choices, but each one still has a limited number of varieties. Sharing seeds with other gardeners, especially experienced ones who have experimented with several crops, gives you a chance to try plant varieties you’ve never heard of before.</li>
<li><strong>Promote Biodiversity</strong>. Keeping rare seeds in circulation allows more species of animals and insects to thrive. The more species there are in an ecosystem, the healthier it is, and the harder it is for a single disease or natural disaster to wipe out the whole system.</li>
<li><strong>Share Knowledge</strong>. When you get seeds directly from other gardeners, you can also get useful advice about growing them. You can learn which varieties grow best in your soil, as well as which insects and diseases to watch out for and how to combat them. Also, since people who like to grow food generally like to cook and eat it as well, you can learn exciting new ways to prepare the vegetables you grow.</li>
<li><strong>Build Community</strong>. A seed exchange is a great place to meet folks who share your interest in gardening. By getting to know other gardeners, you have somewhere to turn for help and advice if you run into problems. You can even discover other interests you share and possibly form lasting friendships.</li>
<p>The biggest downside of swapping seeds is that it’s hard to get an accurate idea of a particular seed’s germination rate — that is, the percentage of seeds that sprout. This rate can vary based on where the seeds were stored or when they were harvested. Unlike large seed companies, small growers can’t always give you an accurate estimate of their seeds’ germination rate. However, given that the seeds are essentially free, you can make up for that by starting plenty of them to make sure you get a few healthy plants.</p>
<h2 id=”h.s74wyxw3xy3b”>Joining a Seed Library</h2>
<p>If you’re lucky enough to have a permanent seed library in your area, you can “check out” seeds from it at any time. After growing the crops, you can save&nbsp;some seeds from your harvest to replenish the library’s supply. Some seed libraries require you to pay back the seeds you check out, but others don’t.</p>
<p>Each library has its own rules for borrowing and returning seeds. For instance, the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library allows donations of either home-grown or commercial seeds as long as they’re open-pollinated (heirloom) plants. <a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Hybrid plant seeds d</a><a target=”_blank” href=”″ rel=”noopener noreferrer”>on’t breed true</a>,&nbsp;so you often end up with offspring that look and taste nothing like the original plant. The library also has rules about how you must label seed donations.</p>
<p>You can search for a seed library near you on the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Seed Libraries </a><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>site</a>.&nbsp;If you can’t find one, perhaps you and a group of like-minded gardeners can start your own. The Seed Libraries site also offers <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>materials</a>&nbsp;for people thinking about doing so.</p>
<p>However, you’ll probably find it easier to start by hosting a one-time seed swap. If it’s a success, you can expand your collection into a full-time seed library.</p>
<h2 id=”h.3ta0f58v3fdi”>Hosting a Local Seed Swap</h2>
<p>If you don’t have a seed library nearby, ask around to see if there are other gardeners in your community who like to trade seeds. Talk to neighbors who garden, inquire on local newsgroups, and bring up the subject at gardening workshops. Gardeners already involved in swapping seeds will probably be happy to let you in on the fun. One more person just means more types of seeds for everyone to choose from.</p>
<p>If other gardeners in your area seem to be interested in seed swapping, but no one’s currently doing it, consider organizing your own seed swap. That could mean anything from a casual gathering with a handful of people to a big event complete with speakers, activities, and refreshments. However, any seed swap needs a few key ingredients: a group of interested people, a date, a location, seeds to swap, rules for exchanging seeds, and publicity.</p>
<p>To put all these elements together, you just need to follow a few simple steps.</p>
<h3 id=”h.kk493gpg87ni”>1. Form a Group</h3>
<p>You can’t have a seed swap without people to swap seeds with. Thus, your first job is to find a core group of gardeners who all want to take part in a seed exchange. If you don’t have many interested friends, post notices in places where gardeners tend to spend time. Possibilities include public libraries, health food stores or <a href=””>food co-ops</a>, nurseries, <a href=””>community gardens</a>, nature centers, and social media groups.</p>
<h3 id=”h.b59bkrudto8q”>2. Plan the Event</h3>
<p>Once you have a group of interested gardeners, discuss when and where you’d like to hold your seed swap. Two good times for a seed exchange are in late fall, when the growing season has just ended and people have had time to collect seeds from their crops, and near the end of winter, when people are just beginning to think about their spring gardens.</p>
<p>Decide how large you want your seed swap event to be. For your first seed swap, a small gathering of friends is probably easiest. However, if there’s already a larger gardening event that takes place in your community, such as a fall harvest fair or a series of lectures, you could consider asking the organizers to let you make your seed swap a part of that event.</p>
<p>If you decide on a casual gathering, all you need to do is choose a date and a place and notify interested parties by email. However, if you want to have a bigger event that’s open to the public, you may choose to add to the excitement with extra features like refreshments, talks on gardening-related topics, or activities for kids. Just remember, the more you add to your event, the more work and cost it will involve. If you decide to include extra features, split up the responsibilities among your group members so you don’t have to handle all the work yourself.</p>
<h3 id=”h.hwi3g6e2fg7u”>3. Gather Seeds</h3>
<p>The most critical ingredient in any seed exchange is the seeds. There’s a good chance you may have more “customers” looking for seeds than contributors with seeds to offer. To make sure you have enough for everyone, it’s best to start collecting seeds well ahead of time.</p>
<p>Let other gardeners in your area know about the seed swap in advance through the same channels you used to connect with your core group. If you put out the word at the end of the summer before you plan to hold your seed exchange, gardeners should have a chance to collect and save seeds from their crops. The more seed collectors you find, the more choices you can offer at your seed exchange. You can also reach out to local farmers, nurseries, or even seed companies to see if they have any extra seeds or plants to contribute.</p>
<p>Ensure everyone who contributes seeds to your event knows you’re only interested in seeds from open-pollinated plants. Also, put a limit on the age of seeds you’ll accept. Most vegetable seeds stay good for two to four years in storage, but seeds from onions, leeks, parsnips, celery, and spinach typically last only a year.</p>
<h3 id=”h.j37xttwe08ht”>4. Find a Venue</h3>
<p>If you’re planning a small, informal event, you can easily hold your exchange in someone’s home or garden. For a larger seed exchange with multiple tables, speakers, and other activities, you need a larger space — ideally one that’s free or very cheap to rent. Possible locations include a church hall or basement, a community center, a meeting room at a public library, a school, or a large outdoor area such as a park — preferably with covered pavilions or rented tents in case of rain.</p>
<p>Before reserving a space, check it out carefully. Consider how many people it can hold, wheelchair accessibility, parking, bathrooms, and other features like electricity or kitchen facilities. Also, consider whether you would need to provide any extra equipment, such as chairs and tables, audio-visual gear, or equipment for cooking and serving food.</p>
<p>Once you find a place that meets your needs at a price you can afford, reserve the space before you start publicizing your event. Make sure to find out details such as which parts of the building you can use, where to pick up and return the keys, and who is responsible for cleaning up.</p>
<h3 id=”h.xghcw8cb96gb”>5. Set Rules</h3>
<p>Before your event, decide on what the rules should be for exchanging seeds. One question to answer is how many seeds people are allowed to take.&nbsp;You can choose to set limits on how much people can take of a particular variety, how much they can take in total, or both. Some seed exchanges establish a rule that you can only take as much as you brought, while others allow new gardeners with nothing to contribute to take a limited amount, such as one or two packets.</p>
<p>Set some rules for donors, as well. Ask them to sort different varieties into bags, containers, or individual packets. If they’re providing packets, let them know how many seeds to include in each one. The <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Southern Exposure Seed Exchange</a>&nbsp;says 20 to 30 seeds of a given variety is a good amount for many crops, but a few crops, such as corn, need a higher volume.</p>
<p>Also, let them know how to label their seeds. At a minimum, each variety should have a note card listing the name, type of plant, and source of the seed. However, labels are even more useful if they also include information about the growing conditions, appearance, and flavor. For example, a card might read:</p>
<p>“Black Brandywine tomato: open-pollinated, heirloom, saved from last season; about 80 days to maturity. Large, blackish-red fruits with delicious, sweet, slightly smoky flavor but not a prolific yielder.”</p>
<p>In some cases, donors may choose to bring bulk seeds in jars, bags, or plastic containers. To make sure new gardeners don’t get carried away and make off with a whole jar, provide some empty bags or envelopes, a pen for labeling them, and a sign to let people know how many seeds they can take from a given container.</p>
<h3 id=”h.bbdgnuebogrs”>6. Assemble Supplies</h3>
<p>Consider what equipment and supplies you need to make your seed swap work. You need a table to display your seeds and a sign outlining the rules for swapping at a minimum. However, depending on your event’s size, you may also want to supply such things as:</p>
<li>More tables and chairs</li>
<li>Equipment for talks or demonstrations</li>
<li>Prizes for contests</li>
<li>Blank labels for people’s seed contributions</li>
<li>Packets or bags for bulk seeds</li>
<li>Scoops for dipping up seed from bulk containers</li>
<li>A few starter packets of seeds to make sure there’s something available for early arrivals</li>
<li>Signs to mark off sections for different types of plants</li>
<li>Handouts with some general information about seed saving, such as this guide from <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Southern Exposure</a></li>
<p>The more equipment and supplies you need for your seed swap, the more money it will take to run. To avoid losing money on your event, you may choose to raise funds by charging an entry fee, requesting donations, or selling food.</p>
<h3 id=”h.iqpil2b49eiy”>7. Promote Your Seed Swap</h3>
<p>Finally, spread the word about your event as widely as you can. Ensure all your publicity materials cover the three W’s: what a seed exchange is, when it’s happening, and where you’re holding it. Tools for publicity include the following:</p>
<li>Posters on public bulletin boards at sites such as schools, grocery stores, offices of community groups, and the local library</li>
<li>Event calendars for organizations such as local gardening groups, botanical gardens, food co-ops, and your local chamber of commerce</li>
<li>Your own <a href=””>social media pages</a>&nbsp;or a new page you start for the seed exchange itself</li>
<li>The community section on your local Craigslist group, if it has one</li>
<li>Other Internet sites, such as gardening forums, bulletin boards, and blogs</li>
<li>Your local paper — either by posting an ad in the classified section or by contacting reporters and asking if they’d like to cover the event</li>
<h2 id=”h.ml4z3x8vtnyo”>Joining an Online Seed Exchange</h2>
<p>If there aren’t any existing seed swaps in your area and you don’t want to set up your own, try looking online for other gardeners to swap seeds with. Sites to check include Facebook, your local Craigslist group, and <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Nextdoor</a>, a social media site designed to help neighbors connect. If there aren’t any existing groups devoted to gardening, try starting a new discussion about seed swapping. List your city or neighborhood, what seeds you have to share, and some seeds you’re hoping to find, and see who responds.</p>
<h3 id=”h.hz4npb9ap52v”>National Seed Saver Groups</h3>
<p>If you can’t find local gardeners online, try connecting with a national seed saver group. Through these groups, you can meet gardeners all over the country and exchange seeds with them by mail. National groups for seed and plant savers include:</p>
<li><strong><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Seed Savers Exchange</a></strong>. This site is backed&nbsp;by a nonprofit group dedicated to saving and sharing seeds from heirloom plant varieties. All the seeds offered on the exchange are open-pollinated, are not patented or genetically engineered, and have previously been tested by the gardener providing them. Gardeners can exchange tubers, bulbs, cuttings, and roots through the exchange as well. Anyone can browse seeds, but you must create a free account to offer or request them. Users can’t charge for their seeds, but they can request a payment to cover shipping costs.</li>
<li><strong><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Plantswap</a></strong>. Through this nonprofit site, you can swap seeds and plants with gardeners, both in your own area and around the country. Once you’ve created a free account, you can view listings from other members on a map and search them by location, category, or keyword. The site also includes a groups section for discussing plants with fellow gardeners and setting up local exchanges.</li>
<li><strong><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Great American Seed Swap/Trade Project</a></strong>&nbsp;(<strong>GASSP</strong><strong>)</strong>. The GASSP is a public Facebook group for people who want to exchange seeds, plants, and bulbs. Once you join the group, you can create a “seed swap doc” with information about yourself, your <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>growing zone</a>, the types of seeds or plants you have to share, and the type you hope to find. Any of the group’s 27,000-plus members can contact you to offer their seeds or request some from you, and vice versa. Once you find someone interested in a swap, you can exchange addresses in a private message.</li>
<li><strong><a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>R/seedswap</a></strong>. This Reddit group has approximately 9,000 members interested in seed sharing. Members post here to offer or request seeds, bulbs, or cuttings. Some are looking for specific plants, while others ask for suggestions about what is likely to grow well in their area.</li>
<h3 id=”h.5bcxrhawytle”>Hazards of Nonlocal Swapping</h3>
<p>Gardening experts interviewed by <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Mashable</a>&nbsp;caution that there are risks to swapping seeds and plants with gardeners who don’t live in your area. David King, founder of the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Seed Library of Los Angeles</a>, notes that seeds taken from a plant grown in one area have likely adapted to its local climate and may not grow well in a different one. Plants can acclimate to a new setting, but he says this takes up to five years to happen.</p>
<p>A bigger problem with long-distance swapping is the risk of accidentally acquiring plants that are dangerous or illegal in your area. For instance, according to Mashable, it is unlawful to grow bamboo anywhere in New York because it’s too hard to contain. The United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA) also prohibits or restricts the shipping of <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>endangered or threatened plants</a>&nbsp;and plants that can carry <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>harmful diseases and insects</a>. It has particularly strict rules about <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>shipping plants into</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>out of the U.S.</a></p>
<p>Kelly Lay, moderator of R/seedswap, says she sometimes has to warn members about seeds and plants that are illegal in certain areas. Representatives from the USDA also monitor the site and occasionally step in to block unlawful trades.</p>
<p>Be particularly wary of any unsolicited seeds you receive from overseas. According to the <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Better Business Bureau</a>, in 2020, people across Canada and the U.S. received packets of seeds they hadn’t ordered from addresses in China. The USDA said this was most likely part of a brushing scam in which e-tailers mail out low-value items to randomly chosen people and then create fake positive reviews from the recipients. However, the USDA warned the recipients not to plant the seeds, as they could be invasive or otherwise harmful.</p>
<h2 id=”h.zh3rzjbjgotd”>Final Word</h2>
<p>Saving and exchanging seeds is more than just a way to save money and try new crops. It can also be a step toward a more <a href=””>self-sufficient life</a>, one in which you don’t need to depend on Big Agriculture for your food or even the seeds to grow it. And it allows you to be part of a community working to preserve the heirloom plant varieties that have all but disappeared from the world of commercial agriculture.</p>
<p>If you’re unsure whether there are enough people in your neighborhood who would be interested in a seed exchange, bring up the subject with folks you know. Many gardeners would love to share their seeds and knowledge — they just don’t realize it’s possible. You have nothing to lose by asking.</p>
<p>What are your favorite sources of seeds for gardening?</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:30:33 +0000 Amy Livingston
Family & Home
Go Green
Home Improvement

25 Vintage Home Decor Ideas to Add Rustic Charm to Your House (Budget)
<p>Some houses age with grace, adding even more charm with each passing year. Others look just like every other home on the street. If you have the latter but wish you had the former, there are ways you can make it happen.</p><p>You don’t have to buy and renovate an old Victorian beauty to have a vintage-feeling home. In fact, you don’t even need to spend much money, especially if you’re willing to get your hands dusty.</p>
<h2>Ways to Add Vintage Charm to Your House</h2>
<p>Forget the <a href=””>home equity loans</a>&nbsp;and <a href=””>personal loans for home improvement projects</a>. Here are 25 affordable ways to create true vintage charm in even the blandest cookie-cutter home. Some recall rustic farmhouses, others grand elegance of bygone eras, but all discard the mundanity of the mass-produced in favor of distinct looks from the last century.</p>
<h3 id=”h.hqqle32mmiaz”>1. Replace the Doorknobs</h3>
<p>Today’s flimsy doorknobs look and feel just as cheap as they are.</p>
<p>But it’s an <a href=””>easy DIY remodeling project</a>&nbsp;to swap them out with old-school glass or bronze doorknobs. It’s entry-level an home update suitable for beginners.</p>
<p>If you insist on getting truly old, original doorknobs, prepare for a challenge in finding a matching set at antique stores. Or, you can find vintage-looking new ones online for less than the cost of lunch. Try this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>glass doorknob set from Defender Security</a>.</p>
<h3 id=”h.p3iezasxwolp”>2. Add Inside Trim to Flat Doors</h3>
<p>A glass doorknob looks out of place on a cheap, thin door. You can replace the door, of course, but that gets expensive quickly, and you may have trouble finding older doors that fit your modern door frame.</p>
<p>But if you have a flat door, it’s easy enough to spruce it up with some trim, formed into rectangles, on the door itself.</p>
<p>For dramatic impact, you can paint the trim a different color from the door itself. Or you can keep it simple and cover it all in the same glossy coat.</p>
<h3 id=”h.6zvjk3gh2ats”>3. Replace the Cabinetry Hardware</h3>
<p>Just as you can liven up boring doors with vintage knobs, you can do the same with drawers and cabinets. Bronze works well, as does a rough-and-tumble cast iron look.</p>
<p>I once bought a house with a half-bath that came with a seashell-shaped sink. It felt vaguely dated and out of place, and I considered replacing it. Instead, I went a different route and committed to a seaside look in that bathroom.</p>
<p>I painted the walls a sky blue, which worked well with the sand-colored tiling. I hung shore-themed art on the walls. But the coup de grace was the bronze seashell-shaped knobs on the cabinet doors.</p>
<p>Not everyone who used the bathroom noticed, but the ones who did used words like “adorable” to describe it.</p>
<h3 id=”h.mizaw4u984co”>4. Add Vintage Kitchen and Bath Fixtures</h3>
<p>Clawfoot tubs have been popular among retro-chic homeowners for years now, and for good reason. They add plenty of vintage charm to any bathroom.</p>
<p>Similarly, you can install a farmhouse sink in your kitchen. Anyone who loves cooking (or just does a lot of it) can appreciate the width and depth of a proper farmhouse sink, which makes it easier to do the dishes without them piling into an unscalable mountain.</p>
<p>To save money, try online classifieds like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Craigslist </a>or visit a donation center like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Habitat for Humanity ReStores</a>.</p>
<p>Beware, though: In a kitchen with usable counters and cabinets already in place, changing the footprint of the sink is no small job. It’s best done when you’re either ripping out the surrounding cabinets anyway or when you can replace the sink without having to replace the surrounding cabinets.</p>
<p>As tempting as it is to DIY these sorts of home repairs, start small with <a href=””>DIY home upgrades</a>. Work your way up to larger updates and <a href=””>hire a contractor</a> in the meantime. If you don’t know any contractors in your area, you can use a service like <a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””><strong>HomeAdvisor</strong></a>. They run background checks and can recommend both general contracts and specialists in your area.</p>
<h3 id=”h.od6rnh93ngq4″>5. Go Retro With Your Appliances</h3>
<p>Classic refrigerators with rounded edges and chrome handles are increasingly popular again, but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. Fortunately, you probably want the vintage look without the vintage innards, which means buying one new that only looks&nbsp;like it was manufactured in 1952.</p>
<p>You can buy matching ovens and dishwashers too, with the same curving lines and gleaming chrome handles. They’re not cheap, but they make for a striking look in any kitchen that’s cheaper than a full-scale renovation.</p>
<h3 id=”h.wjej804dgf7o”>6. Butcher Block Counters</h3>
<p>One simple and affordable way to create a farmhouse kitchen look is butcher block counters. These wooden counters look gorgeous and come in any wood tone from bleached blonde to deep mahogany. Plus, they don’t have any grooves or grout for crumbs and liquids to crust into, making them easy to clean.</p>
<h3 id=”h.trlnagvvwotj”>7. Incorporate Antique Dishes</h3>
<p>You can do a lot with antique china dishes.</p>
<p>You can hang them on a wall, which works well in kitchens and dining rooms. As you meander through <a href=””>antique shops</a>, keep an eye out for lone China dishes that look great and could contribute as an accent among other old pieces. You can also scatter them around to serve as soap dishes, candle dishes, and produce dishes.</p>
<p>Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to match. It’s to add character to bland spaces.</p>
<h3 id=”h.39ij2a6x8ag”>8. Buy Vintage Furniture</h3>
<p>“They don’t make them like they used to” is true in the furniture industry.</p>
<p>Not in the sense of quality; if you’re willing to pay enough, you can buy gorgeous handcrafted furniture today. But some furniture designs simply fell out of fashion decades ago and are largely unproduced to this day. For example, you don’t see many chaise lounges or chesterfield sofas in furniture showrooms today.</p>
<p>Scout antique furniture shops and <a href=””>Craigslist</a>&nbsp;for furniture with that vintage feel to add some old-school charm to any room. It’s often a great way to <a href=””>buy quality furniture inexpensively</a>. Plus, you can <a href=””>donate your old furniture to charity</a>&nbsp;and enjoy the tax deduction if it has some scuffs or sell it if it looks closer to new.</p>
<p>Just be careful to keep each room consistent and not to put a century-old chaise lounge next to an Ikea pleather loveseat.</p>
<h3 id=”h.om72ga68pr3d”>9. Distress the Paint on Existing Furniture</h3>
<p>One way to give newer furniture a vintage feel is to distress the paint. It’s easy enough to do. You simply take some sandpaper to the paint, whether the paint job is old or new.</p>
<p>A word to the wise, though: This only looks good on furniture that looks like it could conceivably be older. Don’t try this with a cheap modern table. But for old desks, cabinets, tables, and other already-vintage-looking pieces, it can be a stylish way to add the gravitas of age.</p>
<h3 id=”h.dfe1ifn4y62h”>10. Use Reclaimed Wood</h3>
<p>Create a wood plank accent wall with&nbsp;reclaimed wood&nbsp;in your living room or den for a warm, rustic feel. The beauty of these walls tend to be the rough texture and staggered lengths of the planks, giving it a slightly irregular and organic look.</p>
<p>But don’t let that look fool you. The planks must still fit together well. If you mount them poorly, it looks haphazard instead of warm and rustic.</p>
<p>Score inexpensive reclaimed wood through online classifieds websites, through peer-to-peer selling platforms like eBay and Etsy, or even from grocery stores overflowing with wooden pallets. If you’re willing to pay a little more, you can also check out architectural salvage retailers and reclaimed lumber dealers like <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Vintage Timberworks</a>&nbsp;or <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Plank &amp; Mill</a>.</p>
<p>If making your own wood plank wall sounds like a lot of work, you can buy one instead. Try this <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>affordable option from Epic Artifactory</a>.</p>
<h3 id=”h.6erqxurhtywc”>11. Hang Vintage Mirrors</h3>
<p>Not only do mirrors make a room look larger and brighter, but they can also add an elegant feel from a previous era. An oversize mirror creates a powerful impression in the room, recalling the grandiosity of the Roaring ’20s or La Belle Epoque.</p>
<p>The trick is to find a huge mirror smoky with age. Ideally, you want an equally oversized gold or silver frame around it, covered in lush laurel leaves, floral designs, or broad, bold lines. The frame can also have a faded color to it. Don’t be afraid to paint it yourself to give it the perfect aged-looking hue.</p>
<h3 id=”h.v6rarnv9s0u4″>12. Add a Bar Cart to the Living Room</h3>
<p>Bar carts sit on the side of the room looking sexy, with bottles, a decanter or two, glassware, and other bar-related accouterments. Pick up a vintage crystal decanter and a set of coupe, crystal highball, wine, or martini glasses to create the look of mid-century sophistication. Round out the look with a sterling silver ice bucket.</p>
<p>While you’re at it, learn how to make a bourbon drink or two to impress your guests. My favorite is the home sweet home, made with two parts bourbon or scotch, one part lemon juice, and one part chamomile simple syrup. It’s easy, delicious, and guaranteed to please.</p>
<h3 id=”h.xg96zryk5on6″>13. Add a Fireplace and Mantle</h3>
<p>From rustic farmhouse to old-money grandeur, there’s a fireplace for every look. It serves as a focal point for the room and, when lit, creates an undeniable allure.</p>
<p>Ideally, it should actually work. But if you’re low on budget and don’t have an easy way to vent the smoke, you can always just install a mantle and fireplace that are purely decorative.</p>
<p>Before making that decision, though, explore gas fireplaces. They’re often easier to install than traditional wood-burning fireplaces with flues, chimneys, and the works. You don’t necessarily have to spend much on them, either. For a low-cost example, see this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>gas fireplace from Duluth Forge</a>.</p>
<p>As for the mantle, if you enjoy antiquing, then keep an eye out for an original vintage mantle. If that proves a challenge, you can always build or buy a new one instead.</p>
<h3 id=”h.jtk82fjtcigk”>14. Surround the Fireplace With Faux Stone</h3>
<p>Faux stone such as AirStone or NextStone is easy to cut with a regular hacksaw and mounts on the wall with a premixed adhesive mixture. No grout, no contractors, no special equipment needed.</p>
<p>It’s a prefabricated veneer that creates the look of a stone chimney or wall, without the unwieldy weight or mounting challenges of real stones.</p>
<p>And it’s surprisingly cheap. For a few hundred bucks and a few hours’ labor, you can create the rustic vibe of a stone chimney by adhering faux stone panels on your fireplace and mantle. Check out this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>kit of four interlocking NextStone panels</a>&nbsp;that cover nearly 17 square feet of space. Alternatively, <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>AirStone</a>&nbsp;claims to be made from recycled materials and even feels like real stone at similar pricing.</p>
<h3 id=”h.psrq554gygl”>15. Channel Grandma With Quilts</h3>
<p>If you’re lucky, you still have one or two of your grandmother’s handmade quilts. If not, well, you can always buy some at a <a href=””>thrift</a>&nbsp;or vintage store.</p>
<p>Quilts work wonders for that farmhouse look, both as throw blankets on the back of your living room sofas and, of course, on the beds. They’re a cheap, simple way to add rustic charm to any home.</p>
<h3 id=”h.3ka08ydt5nps”>16. Get Creative With Mason Jars</h3>
<p>Mason jars might just be the most versatile thing in your house (after duct tape, of course).</p>
<p>Craftsy people can make their own candles in Mason jars for a farmhouse look. If you make your own jams and preserves, you can line a kitchen shelf with jars of them, perhaps with those little red-and-white linen jam jar covers. Lazy people can use them as flower vases for an easier effect.</p>
<p>You can also build a Mason jar light fixture (or buy one) with old-school transparent incandescent bulbs. Check out this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>pair of mason jar lights</a>&nbsp;as one example.</p>
<h3 id=”h.p2d2fia5ffkp”>17. Decorate With Vintage Vases</h3>
<p>Not everyone appreciates the Mason jar look. If you’re going for “understated elegance” rather than “my grandparents’ cottage,” pick up a few antique vases.</p>
<p>They’re easy to find in every shape, size, and color in antique shops across the world. Placing a few flowers in them instantly adds color and charm to any room.</p>
<p>You can also get more creative if you’re fresh out of flowers. Use vases as bookends or as candy or mint dishes. They’re also perfect for holding kitchen utensils on the counter. In the bathroom, larger vases can keep spare rolls of toilet paper handy. Small vases can go on the table by the front door to hold odds and ends like sunglasses, keys, and earbuds.</p>
<h3 id=”h.mlpok5fjn24p”>18. Repurpose Vintage Items</h3>
<p>You stumble across some strange items at yard sales and antique shops. Many of them feature dated designs that are no longer considered efficient, but they still look cool.</p>
<p>Consider old-fashioned wooden toolboxes. They don’t fold or compartmentalize your tools the way you’d prefer in today’s world, but something about the dark, shiny stained wood and the sheer fact that no one uses them anymore creates a certain appeal.</p>
<p>They may not be great for storing tools, but you can put them to decorative use as magazine holders, window flower boxes, or quaint silverware holders.</p>
<p>The same goes for other vintage items you happen upon. Rather than only seeing their obsolete original purpose, brainstorm ideas for putting them to use in a more decorative role.</p>
<h3 id=”h.myv1va5biz4l”>19. Convert Your Living Room or Den Into a Library</h3>
<p>No one builds homes with a library anymore. That’s a shame because home library rooms are warm, welcoming, and have that inviting smell of leather and paper.</p>
<p>When my parents bought their home, my father created a casual library where he relaxes, watches TV, and of course, reads. One wall has built-in shelving stacked with ancient hardcover volumes, some of which he bought to read, and others he salvaged from his parents’ library. It’s the warmest, coziest room in the house.</p>
<p>If your budget doesn’t cover built-in shelving, buy a tall, antique wooden bookcase and fill it with classic hardcover or leather-bound books. You can create a similar effect for a fraction of the cost.</p>
<h3 id=”h.d79bg36h0uup”>20. Add Faux Wood Beams Along the Ceiling</h3>
<p>Picture a 300-year-old colonial home with broad, dark wooden beams bracing the ceiling. If you were to buy one of those sturdy, solid wood beams today, it would set you back thousands of dollars. Fortunately, you can buy hollow, faux wooden beams that look just like the real thing but weigh next to nothing and cost a few hundred dollars.</p>
<p>Take a look at this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>faux wood beam from NextStone</a>&nbsp;as an example, and keep in mind this works best with taller ceilings.</p>
<h3 id=”h.ofykdhgxdkoz”>21. Add a Ceiling Medallion</h3>
<p>For a more grandiose look in a dining room or formal living room, add a ceiling medallion.</p>
<p>They were once expensive to install, but today, you can simply stick them to the ceiling. They pair particularly well with classic chandeliers. The only potential challenge is detaching and then reconnecting the light fixture.</p>
<p>Despite the upscale final result, they cost less than the dinner you’re planning to serve underneath them. For example, check out this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>18-inch ornate medallion</a>&nbsp;to add some Victorian elegance to your dining room.</p>
<h3 id=”h.2f4r1jwxpz3z”>22. Install Pressed Tin Ceiling Tiles</h3>
<p>Pressed tin ceilings were all the rage 100 to 130 years ago. They lined the ceilings of salons and drawing rooms at the turn of the 20th century, but in the centuries since then, most have been removed or covered with drywall.</p>
<p>Today, it’s cheap and easy to recreate the same look at a fraction of the price. Most tiles you buy today are pressed sheet metal with a tin finish, creating the same metal look, feel and texture.</p>
<p>Start your search with this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>inexpensive but well-reviewed “pressed tin” ceiling tile set</a>&nbsp;for tiles that look and feel like original tin tiles.</p>
<h3 id=”h.11qg85ut6k3o”>23. Dress Up Windows with Broad Trim</h3>
<p>Today’s new homes tend to feature cheap, thin window trim. To give your home a more upscale, vintage feel, replace thin trim with broad, wide trim framing. Besides making your home look less cookie-cutter, it adds character to the room and draws attention to the bright windows.</p>
<h3 id=”h.iyqlw9pwptr”>24. Add Wainscoting or a Chair Rail</h3>
<p>Wainscoting is a word you don’t hear very often anymore. That makes it all the more appealing as you aim to set your home apart from the neighbors.</p>
<p>Wainscotting is the three-dimensional trim on the lower portion of living- and dining room walls, below the chair rail. The chair rail is the jutting trim that lines the room at the height of chair tops. It’s meant to keep chairs from denting the walls if they’re backed into them.</p>
<p>Traditional wainscoting was white, forming rectangular panels along the lower walls. These panels were wooden, but today, you can buy them relatively inexpensively in materials like PVC and then coat them in thick, glossy white paint. Try these <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>wainscoting panels on Amazon</a>&nbsp;that you can easily install yourself.</p>
<p>Or spend even less and just install a chair rail around the living or dining room. Instead of hundreds of dollars, you can spend dozens on a <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” href=””>polyurethane chair rail</a>&nbsp;and install it yourself with ease.</p>
<h3 id=”h.den767fnod1w”>25. Use Vintage Paint Colors or Wallpaper</h3>
<p>You’ve added wainscoting or a chair rail to your dining room, leaving the bottom of the walls a gleaming white. What do you do with the walls from waist height up?</p>
<p>You could add wallpaper, such as this <a target=”_blank” href=”” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>blue French damask wallpaper from Blooming Wall</a>. Looking at it above wainscoting is like stepping into a time machine.</p>
<p>Or you could use paint colors reminiscent of the early to mid-20th century and before. Think pale lemon, pastel green hues, dusty rose, and soft lavender shades.</p>
<h2 id=”h.flyprhq2brw2″>Final Word</h2>
<p>From rustic farmhouse to mid-century prosperity, you can choose and recreate the perfect look for your personality and home. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can implement nearly every idea above yourself, and many cost less than a meal out at a restaurant.</p>
<p>For the best results, combine ideas above to compound the effects. For example, you can transform your living room into a Roaring ’20s entertaining hub with a huge, smoky mirror surrounded by a gold leaf frame, a bar cart with all the trimmings, a ceiling medallion, chaise lounge, and pastel green walls. Or, you can create a farmhouse aesthetic with antique china dishes, quilts, Mason jars, a wood plank wall, and some antique wooden furniture.</p>
<p>For more ideas to customize your home, see our roundup of<a href=””>&nbsp;bathroom remodeling ideas on a budget</a>&nbsp;and <a href=””>kitchen remodeling ideas on a budget</a>.</p>
<p>The only limit is your imagination.</p>

<p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p> Wed, 16 Dec 2020 21:12:51 +0000 G. Brian Davis
Family & Home
Home Improvement
Real Estate

Published at

What do you think?

Written by Riel Roussopoulos


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Comments on: Fast Food Deals