Home Improvement – Money Crashers

Home Improvement – Money Crashers

Home Improvement – Money Crashers
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Home Improvement – Money Crashers
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<title>Home Improvement – Money Crashers</title>
<description>Personal Finance Guide to Turn the Tables on Money</description>
<title>Green Energy Tax Credits for Home Improvement &amp; Energy Efficiency</title>
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<description>&lt;p&gt;For homeowners and bill-paying renters, the cheapest way to save money on utilities is to reduce consumption. In the summer, raising the temperature setting on your air conditioner or using a high-speed floor fan on all but the hottest days can drastically&lt;a href=””&gt; cut air conditioning costs&lt;/a&gt;. In the winter, you can &lt;a href=””&gt;trim your gas or oil bill&lt;/a&gt; by wrapping your windows, lowering your thermostat a few degrees, and settling into your favorite sweater.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Such fixes are fast, easy, and effective. But they don’t permanently reduce your fossil-fuel-burning appliances’&lt;a href=””&gt; carbon footprints&lt;/a&gt; or improve your home’s ability to retain warm or cool air. To make a lasting, meaningful difference in your home’s energy profile, your home requires more involved — and often expensive — home improvements and upgrades.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Fortunately, federal, state, and local government tax credits and other financial incentives partially offset the cost of a slew of residential green energy projects, helping more homeowners finance them out of their savings or afford the payments on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203k renovation loans.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And these federal tax credits and incentives along with hundreds of state and local credits and incentives can help you make your green home a reality.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Federal Green Energy &amp;amp; Home Efficiency Tax Credits &amp;amp; Incentives&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Most of these green energy tax credits and incentives are valid through the end of 2021. The exception is the Energy Efficient Mortgage program, which is available indefinitely. The federal government offers these programs, which are available to any American homeowner who files a federal tax return.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Unless otherwise noted, you can apply for each credit by filing &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;IRS Form 5695&lt;/a&gt; with your federal tax return.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Solar Energy Generation &amp;amp; Storage (Solar Investment Tax Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The solar investment tax credit applies to two types of residential solar energy systems.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The first is photovoltaic solar electricity generation systems (solar panels), which use the carbon-free power of the sun to generate electricity.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The second is solar energy storage systems. These are residential power storage units, such as the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Tesla Powerwall&lt;/a&gt;, that store electricity generated exclusively by onsite solar panels.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Energy storage systems that store grid electricity or electricity generated by nonrenewable onsite sources like diesel generators are ineligible for the credit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Solar panels and solar energy storage systems both qualify for a tax credit equal to 26% of the equipment and installation costs through 2022 with no cap on credit size. In 2023, the credit decreases to 22% and expires for residential customers on Dec. 31 of that year. Commercial customers can claim a 10% credit on qualifying solar generation installations indefinitely after 2023.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Qualifying solar panels must generate electricity for the residence itself. They must meet all applicable fire and electrical safety code requirements, which vary by jurisdiction.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Solar Power Authority&lt;/a&gt;, equipment and installation costs add up to approximately $7 to $9 per watt, or $25,000 to $35,000 for a 5-kilowatt (kW) system capable of powering the average American home. However, solar panel prices have fallen considerably in recent years.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Moreover, in addition to the solar investment tax credit, many utility companies and state and local governments offer cash incentives and rebates that can dramatically reduce out-of-pocket costs.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Taxpayers can claim this credit on existing and new-construction homes (including second homes) but not on rental properties. The &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;United States Department of Energy&lt;/a&gt; (DOE) and &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;EnergySage&lt;/a&gt; have more information about the solar investment tax credit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Solar Water Heaters (Renewable Energy Tax Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Solar water heaters are among several residential renewable energy systems that qualify for the federal &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;renewable energy tax credit&lt;/a&gt;. It provides a tax credit equal to 26% of total system costs (including installation) for systems installed through Dec. 31, 2022, and a tax credit equal to 22% of total system costs with installation for systems installed in 2023.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To qualify for the credit, solar water heaters must generate at least half their energy from solar and must be Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC)-certified. However, all Energy Star-rated solar water heaters qualify.&amp;nbsp;You must use heated water in the dwelling itself — swimming pool and hot tub heaters don’t count.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Angi&lt;/a&gt; (formerly Angie’s List), the typical solar water heater costs $2,000 to $5,500 with installation, though pricier models can cost more.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Wind Energy Generation (Renewable Energy Tax Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Small wind turbines (residential) use the power of the wind to generate carbon-free electricity. Though they’re compact compared to utility-scale turbines, which soar hundreds of feet into the air and sweep an area of an acre or more, they do require ample space, so they’re not ideal in densely populated urban areas.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; EnergySage&lt;/a&gt;, equipment and installation costs for a turbine sufficient to power an average home (roughly 5 kW of generating capacity) vary dramatically — from $15,000 to $75,000 before rebates, depending on system capacity. More expensive systems take longer to pay for themselves, though many installers offer financing options that reduce upfront costs.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Residential wind turbine systems also qualify for the renewable energy tax credit. According to the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;DOE&lt;/a&gt;, small wind turbines qualify for a tax credit equal to 26% of equipment and installation costs with no upper limit on credit size through 2022. The credit steps down to 22% for systems installed in 2023 and expires at the end of that year.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Qualifying turbines’ manufacturer-determined generating capacity (maximum capacity under ideal wind conditions) must be no more than 100 kW. Taxpayers can claim the credit on new and existing primary residences and second homes, but not on rentals.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Geothermal Heat Pumps (Renewable Energy Tax Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Geothermal heat pumps draw upon the planet’s vast reserves of internal heat to generate low-carbon heat and electricity. Depending on the system, they provide hot water, air conditioning, and home heating.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Saver&lt;/a&gt; (an office of the DOE), geothermal heat pumps use 25% to 50% less electricity than traditional heating and cooling systems. However, they’re pricey. According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;;/a&gt;, it can cost $20,000 to $25,000 to install a geothermal system in a 2,500-square-foot home, with a payback period of up to 10 years.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Geothermal heat pumps qualify for a tax credit equal to 23% of equipment and installation costs with no upper limit through 2022 and a 22% tax credit in 2023. The credit expires at the end of 2023 unless Congress chooses to extend it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Qualifying geothermal systems must meet the minimum efficiency and performance benchmarks outlined by &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;. They can generate some or all the water heat, house heat, and air conditioning for the property.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The credit applies to systems installed in new and existing primary homes and second homes, but not rental properties.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Fuel Cell Energy Generation (Renewable Energy Tax Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Residential fuel cell and microturbine systems are compact units that simultaneously generate home heat, water heat, and electricity from a single location within the home. They typically run on natural gas or biofuels (liquid fuel made from organic materials) and can operate independently of the local power grid (meaning they continue to function during blackouts).&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;They’re quite costly — per&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; FuelCellsWorks&lt;/a&gt;, total system costs can approach $100,000 in existing homes. New construction installations are usually less expensive because you don’t need to do any retrofitting to install them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Fortunately, these systems qualify for a federal tax credit equal to that for wind, solar, and geothermal. Homeowners can claim credits equal to 26% of equipment and installation costs through 2022 and 22% in 2023. Unless Congress later extends it, the credit expires on Dec. 31, 2023.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Qualifying systems must have 30% or better efficiency ratings and generating capacities of at least 0.5 kW. The credit applies to systems installed in new and existing primary homes only. Second homes and rental properties are ineligible.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Biomass Fuel Stoves (Renewable Energy Tax Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Biomass fuel stoves burn organic fuels to heat homes or water (or both). Depending on the type of stove, biomass fuels can include wood, processed wood products like pellets, agricultural crops and crop residue, and naturally occurring plants and grasses.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Biomass fuel stoves are comparatively affordable, with average upfront costs for a wood pellet stove ranging from $1,500 to $3,500, according to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;EnergySage&lt;/a&gt;. Annual pellet costs come to about $750 on average, per EnergySage.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The renewable energy tax credit is available on newly installed biomass fuel stoves with 75% or better thermal efficiency ratings. The credit is equal to 26% of equipment and installation costs for systems installed through Dec. 31, 2022, and 22% of system costs for systems installed through 2023. Absent Congressional action, the credit expires on Dec. 31, 2023.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Energy Efficient Mortgage Program&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The FHA’s long-running &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Efficient Mortgage program&lt;/a&gt; (EEM) bundles the cost of energy-efficient home improvements into a new purchase, refinance, or 203k rehabilitation loan and insures the entire amount.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The lender doesn’t factor the portion of the loan earmarked for the improvements into the underwriting calculations. For example, a borrower who would typically qualify for a loan no larger than $150,000 could get a $155,000 EEM if $5,000 of the loan’s principal went to cover approved energy-efficient improvements.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Under&lt;a href=””&gt; FHA guidelines&lt;/a&gt;, borrowers can put as little as 3.5% of the purchase price down, though they’re required to pay annual mortgage insurance premiums for at least the first 11 years of their mortgage. The &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development&lt;/a&gt; has more information about annual mortgage insurance premiums for FHA mortgage borrowers.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Before applying for an EEM, homeowners and buyers must get a home energy assessment from a qualified professional certified by the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Building Performance Institute&lt;/a&gt; or&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Residential Energy Services Network&lt;/a&gt;. They must then use the results of the assessment to identify realistic opportunities for efficiency upgrades and improvements.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The EEM program rewards homeowners for cost-effective projects only. The FHA defines cost-effective upgrades and improvements to existing homes as those likely to save the homeowner enough on energy costs to pay for themselves.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In new-construction homes, the FHA defines cost-effective upgrades as exceeding the most recent HUD-adopted standards set by the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt;International Energy Conservation Code&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The EEM program’s financing capacity is not unlimited. No matter how many cost-effective projects their assessors identify or projects’ cumulative dollar value, homeowners can use EEMs to finance only the lesser of:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;The total value of the cost-effective improvements identified by the home energy assessment&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;The lesser of 5% of the home’s adjusted value, 115% of the median local price of a single-family dwelling, or 150% of the national conforming mortgage limit&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;EEMs have been available to borrowers across the U.S. since 1995 and are expected to remain available indefinitely.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;Nonrenewable Energy-Efficient Home Improvements (Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In 2021, Congress reauthorized a raft of federal tax credit programs for energy-efficient home improvements, collectively known as the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;nonbusiness energy property tax credits&lt;/a&gt;, through Dec. 31, 2021.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The most popular of those programs promises &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;federal income tax credits&lt;/a&gt; of up to $300 to owner-occupants for installations of qualifying air source heat pumps, biomass stoves, efficient central air conditioning, efficient nonsolar water heaters, and conventional boilers and furnaces.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It also includes federal income tax credits equal to 10% of the total cost (up to a $500 maximum credit in most cases) for efficient building envelope improvements like windows, doors, roofs, and insulation.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whether these credits are financially beneficial for you depends largely on how much you pay for them upfront and how much they can save you in the long run.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Air Source Heat Pumps&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Air source heat pumps efficiently distribute heat throughout the home, providing warm and cool air (in a single system) at anywhere from one and a half to three times the efficiency of conventional heating and cooling systems.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Though newer models can operate through extended subfreezing periods, heat pump efficiency declines as outdoor temperature does. As such, systems aren’t appropriate for year-round use in places with very cold winters, such as Alaska, Canada, higher elevations of the Mountain West, and the interior of the northern United States.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Still, in milder climates (lower elevations on the West Coast, most of the United States’ southern tier, the coastal Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions), heat pumps can entirely replace traditional furnaces and air conditioners.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In colder climates, heat pumps are typically paired with oil or gas furnaces to provide adequate heat at the beginning and end of the heating season, when outside temperatures are high enough for the systems to work properly.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships&lt;/a&gt;, heat pumps save an average of $459 per year when replacing electric resistance heaters and $948 per year when replacing oil-fired systems.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Ductless air source heat pumps capable of heating an entire average-sized home cost anywhere from about $4,500 to about $8,000 for equipment and installation, according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; HomeAdvisor&lt;/a&gt;. Larger mini-split systems can cost as much as $14,500 for equipment and installation.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Central Air-Conditioning Systems&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Efficient central air-conditioning systems use grid electricity to generate and spread cool air throughout dwellings. Any air-conditioning systems recognized as &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star Most Efficient&lt;/a&gt; qualify for the tax credit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”,,194722,00.html”&gt; This Old House&lt;/a&gt;, it costs $3,500 to $4,000 to install central air conditioning in a 2,000-square-foot home with existing forced-air heating ductwork. New ducts cost between $10 and $20 per square foot in homes without existing ductwork, adding anywhere from about $500 to $2,000 to the project cost, per&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; HomeAdvisor&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In time, you may recoup some of these costs. According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;, a new high-efficiency air conditioner can reduce cooling costs up to 20% when it replaces a less efficient unit that’s more than 10 years old.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Nonsolar Water Heaters&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Nonsolar water heaters use natural gas or electricity to heat water used in the home. To qualify for the nonbusiness energy property tax credit, gas and electric heaters must meet minimum efficiency standards. Many Energy Star-certified new gas water heaters and most Energy Star-certified new electric water heaters (heat pump water heaters) qualify.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; HomeGuide&lt;/a&gt;, a 40- to 50-gallon tank water heater costs about $650 to $1,600 on average to install, while a tankless water heater costs up to about $2,500 to install. Costs vary widely by heater model, the installer’s rate (a licensed plumber typically charges more), and whether you require disposal of the old heater.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;, a new electric water heater can save homeowners up to $3,500 in energy costs over its lifetime. Gas water heater savings aren’t quite as dramatic but still make a difference: about $25 per year, or $250 over 10 years, according to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Conventional Fuel Boilers &amp;amp; Furnaces&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Efficient boilers and furnaces use fossil fuels like natural gas and oil to provide hot water or air to home heating systems. All Energy Star-certified conventional fuel furnaces and burners (except furnaces rated only for use in the U.S. South region) qualify for the tax credit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; HomeAdvisor&lt;/a&gt;, a new boiler installation costs anywhere from about $3,500 to $8,000, with pricing higher for larger and higher-efficiency models. &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;HomeAdvisor&lt;/a&gt; estimates a new furnace costs approximately $2,500 to $6,500, depending on the model.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;, new Energy Star-rated conventional fuel furnaces are up to 15% more efficient than older models. New Energy Star-rated conventional fuel boilers are up to 5% more efficient than the models they replace. That increased fuel-efficiency translates directly into savings.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Building Envelope Improvements&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The “building envelope” is any part of the building that lies between conditioned indoor spaces and the outdoors. Depending on its location and construction, a building’s envelope can include its exterior walls, roof, windows, doors, skylights, and lower-level floors.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The nonbusiness energy property tax credits cover improvements to various parts of the building envelope. Unless otherwise noted, all apply to existing principal residences only and offset 10% of total improvement costs (not including insulation) up to a $500 maximum credit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Second homes, new construction houses, and rental properties don’t qualify.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This credit applies to insulation in any part of the building envelope, including attics, crawlspaces, basements, and exterior walls. Qualifying insulation types include (but are not limited to) batt, blow-in, roll, expanding spray, rigid board, and pour-in-place.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Some additional products that reduce heat loss also qualify, including weatherstripping, caulk, house wrap, and canned spray foam for small air leaks.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Fixr&lt;/a&gt;, insulation costs between $1 and $3 per square foot, so it would cost approximately $500 to $1,500 to insulate a 500-square-foot attic floor, depending on the type of material. The average cost of insulating an entire 2,500-square-foot house ranges from $2,000 to $6,000, according to Fixr.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt; estimates homeowners can save up to 15% on total heating and cooling costs and 11% on total energy costs by adding adequate insulation throughout the building envelope.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This credit covers Energy Star-rated asphalt or metal roofing materials with cooling granules or pigmented coatings designed to reduce heat absorption.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; HomeAdvisor&lt;/a&gt;, it costs approximately $5,500 to $11,000 to professionally install a new asphalt roof on an average-size home. More expensive materials, such as steel or aluminum, typically cost more to install. However, they tend to last longer.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;, efficient roofing materials can reduce peak heating and cooling demand by 10% to 15%.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h5&gt;Windows and Skylights&lt;/h5&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This credit applies to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star-rated windows and skylights&lt;/a&gt;. Efficient new and replacement windows and skylights qualify.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;HouseLogic&lt;/a&gt; pegs the cost of a new double-paned window at $270 to more than $800, including installation. High-efficiency windows generally come in at the higher end of that range.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;These costs quickly add up. If you’re looking to replace all the windows in an average-size home, expect to pay a low five-figure sum. This credit is capped at $200 of improvement costs, not including installation.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Energy Star&lt;/a&gt;, replacing a home’s windows and skylights with Energy Star-rated fixtures reduces total energy costs by 12%, on average.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This credit covers Energy Star-rated exterior doors, which typically cost between $1,500 and $2,500 for a basic fiberglass or steel door, according to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Angi&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to Energy Star, replacing a home’s doors with Energy Star-rated fixtures reduces total energy costs by 12%, on average.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Select State, Local, &amp;amp; Utility Credits &amp;amp; Incentives&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Every state government has a unique lineup of green energy and home efficiency tax credits and incentives, and many smaller jurisdictions, such as city and county governments, offer green breaks.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, some of the country’s largest utilities cut their customers financial slack too.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;DSIRE&lt;/a&gt;, a DOE-funded initiative housed at North Carolina State University’s NC Clean Energy Technology Center, has a comprehensive, up-to-date list of state, local, and utility-run green policies and incentives. Some representative listings include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Solar Water Heaters, Pennsylvania&lt;/strong&gt;. Owner-occupant customers of&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; select Pennsylvania utilities&lt;/a&gt; qualify for state income tax rebates up to $500 per system. You must hire a licensed contractor to install a qualifying solar water heater.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Renewable Energy Products, Rhode Island&lt;/strong&gt;. The state of Rhode Island waives its 7% sales tax on items defined by&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; state statute&lt;/a&gt; as “renewable energy products.” These include solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal collectors, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbine towers, and DC-to-AC inverters that allow homeowners to pump energy back into the electric grid. There’s no cap for this exemption.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Property Tax Exemption for Solar Systems, New Mexico&lt;/strong&gt;. New Mexico’s long-running&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; property tax exemption for solar systems&lt;/a&gt; exempts installed residential solar photovoltaic systems from property tax assessments at the time of installation, potentially reducing homeowners’ property tax bills by hundreds of dollars each year (depending on the value of the system, value of the home, and local property tax rates).&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Pacific Gas &amp;amp; Electric Residential Rebates, California&lt;/strong&gt;.&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Pacific Gas &amp;amp; Electric&lt;/a&gt;, a major California utility, offers utility bill rebates to customers who purchase efficient appliances and equipment. Rebates are subject to change by year, but perennial examples include up to $120 on eligible smart thermostats.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Residential Energy Efficiency Loans and Rebates, Tallahassee, Florida&lt;/strong&gt;. The&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; city of Tallahassee&lt;/a&gt; offers a slew of residential energy efficiency loans and rebates covering about 25 appliances and improvements in all. Loan terms typically range from five to 10 years, carry relatively low fixed interest rates, and are secured with a property lien. To qualify, borrowers must be residential electric or natural gas utility customers. Eligible appliances and improvements include efficient natural gas dryers, natural gas ranges, refrigerators, windows, doors, pool pumps, and roofing, as well as solar photovoltaic panels and water heating systems. The maximum loan principal is $10,000.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Final Word&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Green energy and energy-efficiency technology have improved drastically — and have become significantly more affordable — since the late 20th century. Thanks in part to these tax credits and incentives, the pace of these improvements has accelerated over the last decade.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Most new-construction homes contain state-of-the-art &lt;a href=””&gt;appliances&lt;/a&gt;, building envelope improvements, and mechanical systems. They offer a degree of efficiency and comfort that simply didn’t exist a generation ago. Most important for cost-conscious home buyers and homeowners, these systems are less expensive to install, meaning they pay for themselves faster than ever before.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There’s no guarantee current and future politicians will step up to renew expiring green energy and energy-efficiency tax credits or pass new ones into law. However, with all the strides we’ve made in recent years, it’s possible we’ve reached a tipping point at which wind, solar, and efficiency technologies no longer need substantial government support to entice buyers.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;&lt;a href=””&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;a href=””&gt;(Why?)&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description>
<pubdate>Mon, 29 Mar 2021 15:15:52 +0000</pubdate>
<dc:creator>Brian Martucci</dc:creator>
<category>Family &amp; Home</category>
<category>Go Green</category>
<category>Home Improvement</category>
<category>Money Management</category>
<media:content url=”” expression=”full”></media:content>
<title>Container Gardening 101: How to Grow Your Own Food in Plant Pots</title>
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<description>&lt;p&gt;These days, more and more people are enjoying the benefits of food gardening. According to a five-year United States gardening trends study by the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; National Gardening Association&lt;/a&gt; (NGA), more than 1 in 3 Americans currently grows their own food. Over the five years of the study, NGA found a 17% increase in food gardening — the highest in decades.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;But you don’t have to dig a plot in the ground to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Whether you’d rather not plant in-ground or you have no yard at all, container gardening has several benefits over in-ground gardening:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Since you use potting soil, you don’t have to worry about preparing your soil before starting.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Container gardens have far fewer issues with weeds (if they have any at all), which means gardening takes up less of your time.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;It’s easier to protect container plants from threats like animals or frost damage.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You can move containers around to take advantage of the best available sunlight, which can increase your yield.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You can start a container garden almost anywhere: on your patio, deck, rooftop, or even kitchen counter.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And growing food in containers doesn’t limit your options. I’ve been growing food in containers for years, including herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, peas, strawberries, and even pumpkins and watermelon. You can grow almost anything in containers.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;How to Grow a Container Garden&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone wp-image-240447 size-inpost_fullwidth” src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Lettuce Vegetables Garden Container Organic” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s relatively easy to begin container gardening. You just need a few basic supplies, including &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”;amp;ref=nb_sb_noss_2″&gt;gardening gloves&lt;/a&gt;, a &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”;amp;keywords=hand+trowel&amp;amp;qid=1615774929&amp;amp;sr=8-4″&gt;hand trowel&lt;/a&gt;, starter plants or seeds, containers, and soil.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Resist the urge to spend a lot on fancy gardening tools or irrigation systems upfront. Although you may choose to garden because you enjoy it, if you’re looking to &lt;a href=””&gt;save money on food&lt;/a&gt;, you won’t see much in savings if you spend a lot on equipment.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For even more money-saving gardening ideas, see our article on &lt;a href=””&gt;gardening hacks to grow your garden for little to no cost&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;1. Choosing Your Containers&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You can grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs in just about any container as long as it has adequate drainage. That includes plastic pots and tubs (such as storage totes), buckets, trash cans, metal troughs, and inexpensive&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; terra cotta pots&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The most important thing to watch for when choosing the containers is size. Your food plants need sufficient space for both root development and proper drainage.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;When it comes to root development requirements, different plants need different amounts of space. For example, lettuce and spinach grow relatively close to the surface, so you can plant them in shallow containers. Other plants, such as cilantro, need deeper containers. Cilantro has a long taproot, so you shouldn’t plant it in a container less than 12 inches deep.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; University of Georgia (UGA) Extension&lt;/a&gt;, the most crucial thing to remember when choosing a container size is that the roots of your plants can only go down so far in a container. Because smaller pots restrict root growth, the smaller your pot, the less top growth (or yield) your plants can produce.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Thus, for a greater harvest, a large pot or container is always better. Containers that are at least 10 inches wide and 12 inches deep are best for most food plants, according to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt;. A container that size ensures adequate room for root growth. Larger pots also hold more soil, meaning they retain moisture longer and you don’t have to water your plants as often.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, plants that grow tall or produce vines, such as tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers, require some type of support, such as a&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; plant cage&lt;/a&gt; or &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;trellis&lt;/a&gt;. In these cases, use a large, sturdy pot to prevent the plant from tipping over.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The second-most important container consideration is drainage. According to UGA Extension, soils in containers have less adequate drainage due to shallower depths and reduced capillary action, the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of external forces like gravity. By contrast, dirt in the ground continually drains by capillary action, which pulls any excess moisture downward.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Poorly drained soil can lead to root problems. When soil is consistently exposed to excess moisture, the roots become stressed and easily contract mold and root-rotting fungi infections, which cause plants to grow improperly and even die.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You can avoid these issues by using the proper soil mix and ensuring your containers have adequate drainage. If you choose a container that doesn’t have holes in the bottom, such as a plastic tub or food-safe &lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt;5-gallon bucket&lt;/a&gt;, drill drainage holes in the bottom so any excess water can escape. You can also line the bottom of your container with broken pottery shards, stones, or sand, which prevent your plants’ roots from sitting in pooled water.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Grow Bags&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re planning to grow a lot of fruits and vegetables but don’t want to spend a lot on containers, try&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; grow bags&lt;/a&gt;. You can buy several for very little money, they don’t take up much space, and they can even make harvesting easier. You can purchase hanging grow bags for&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; strawberries&lt;/a&gt;&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; or tomatoes&lt;/a&gt; or&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; grow bags with windows&lt;/a&gt;, which make harvesting root vegetables like carrots and potatoes easier.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Self-Watering Containers&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt;Self-watering containers&lt;/a&gt; allow container gardeners to grow their vegetable gardens with very little maintenance. These pots and large tubs typically have water reservoirs that collect water at the bottom, including rainwater or water you add yourself. Additionally, they involve a wicking system that allows the plant roots to draw water as needed from the reservoir. You can buy these containers as your budget allows or save money and DIY one from a repurposed plastic storage tote, as shown on &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Grow a Good Life&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Vertical Planting&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re really short on space, vertical planting is an option. For plants that don’t require large containers, such as most herbs, you can even grow multiple plants in an inexpensive shoe organizer following the directions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Instructables&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;2. Buying or Making Potting Soil&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Since adequate drainage is crucial to your plants’ health, you can help them grow better by potting them in a porous planting mixture. Commercial potting soils come in a range of premixed varieties specially formulated for certain plant types — everything from roses to vegetables to African violets. Look for an organic soil mix designed for use in large, outdoor containers. According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt;, organic mixes result in the most flavorful fruits and vegetables.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you don’t mind putting in a little extra work, you can save money by mixing your own potting soil. Despite the name, potting soil doesn’t typically contain soil. Instead, it’s a mixture of various combinations of compost with &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt;peat moss&lt;/a&gt;, &lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt;pine bark&lt;/a&gt;, or &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;coconut coir&lt;/a&gt; and either &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;vermiculite&lt;/a&gt; or &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;perlite&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Vermiculite and perlite help keep the mixture aerated and promote drainage. If you buy a commercial mix that doesn’t already contain perlite, the UGA Extension recommends adding it. Peat moss absorbs and holds moisture, and adding perlite to your potting mixture aids with drainage, especially if you keep your container garden outside and live in a wet climate, where plants are often exposed to extended rain.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Note that peat moss has raised some environmental concerns in recent years because its harvesting releases a considerable amount of carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere, according to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt;The Washington Post&lt;/a&gt;. So, if you’re mixing your own soil, sub an equal amount of coconut coir in any recipe that calls for peat moss. It does the same job and is a renewable resource that won’t cause harm to the atmosphere.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Mel’s Mix, named for Mel Bartholomew, author of “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Square Foot Gardening,&lt;/a&gt;” is a basic soil mix that works well in both raised beds and containers. Mix equal parts compost, coconut coir (instead of the original recipe’s peat moss), and vermiculite. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Growing in the Garden&lt;/a&gt;. See also Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens’ guide on &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;how to make your own potting mixture&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;3. Deciding Between Seeds &amp;amp; Starter Plants&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You can begin your container garden with either seeds or small starter plants. Each has advantages and disadvantages. It’s best to start some plants with seeds, while other plants are more difficult to germinate, making starter plants the easier choice.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The most significant advantages of starting with seeds are price and variety. If you visit a garden store looking for starter plants, you’re limited to what the store has available. But you can buy seeds — especially if you order them from an online store — for any plant in any variety imaginable, including any heirloom variety. The possibilities are virtually limitless.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, most seed packets contain at least 20 seeds, and many contain hundreds. You can get far more plants from a seed packet than one or two starter plants, potentially meaning higher yields for the price.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And you don’t need to use all your seeds at once. According to the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”,last%20two%20to%20five%20years.”&gt; University of California&lt;/a&gt;, many seeds can last anywhere from one to five years if properly stored in a cool, dry place. So buying one packet of seeds and using them over multiple seasons is an effective way to save money. You can also participate in a&lt;a href=””&gt; seed exchange&lt;/a&gt; in your community as a way to experiment with a wider variety of plants without spending anything extra.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;However, there are drawbacks to starting with seeds. They require more experience, skill, and time than starter plants. You must start seeds indoors weeks or months before the planting season begins.&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Harvest to Table&lt;/a&gt; has guidelines for how early to start germinating seeds for many common garden vegetables.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Also, you must carefully control growing conditions to have successful germination. Seeds won’t germinate unless you expose them to the correct temperatures and light. And different plants have different requirements, which can make germination especially tricky. Visit &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Morning Chores&lt;/a&gt; for a guide to the optimum seed germination temperatures for many common garden fruits and vegetables.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Starting from seeds isn’t for everyone and is easier for experienced gardeners. If you don’t have a lot of time, space, or adequate light, reserve seed use for only those plants that start best that way, such as lettuce, beets, carrots, and cilantro. Their long taproots don’t transplant well. That said, if you’re committed to growing a specific plant but can’t find it in your local garden store, you may have to resort to seeds.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Starter Plants&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Starter plants are small plants you can buy from your local garden store. They’re the quickest and easiest way to start your garden. You don’t have to wait and hope as you do with seeds, and if something goes wrong with your plant, many stores have return policies.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The two main drawbacks to starter plants are cost and availability. Plants sold individually can cost several dollars apiece, which can quickly eat up any savings you might accumulate from growing your own food. Also, because garden stores only stock the most common varieties of plants, it can be hard to find the selection you do with seeds.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;But for most home gardeners, the time and ease of using starter plants greatly outweigh these disadvantages.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;When selecting plants, the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; NGA&lt;/a&gt; recommends choosing specimens with bushy growth that haven’t yet started to flower. Ensure each plant is securely anchored in the pot, which indicates strong roots.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;4. Potting Your Plants&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There are a few things you should know before transplanting your seedlings or starter plants into larger containers for the growing season.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Don’t Pack the Soil When Filling the Container&lt;/strong&gt;. You can tap the container on the ground to settle the soil, but make sure it stays relatively loose for proper aeration and drainage.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Fill the Container Within 2 to 3 Inches of the Top&lt;/strong&gt;. Leave enough room for watering your plants. If you fill larger containers to the top, water (including rainwater) will just spill over the sides before it has a chance to soak into the soil. Note that when you hand-water smaller containers, those top 2 to 3 inches will fill up with water rather quickly, so pause for a moment to let it soak in before adding more.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Water the Container Before Planting&lt;/strong&gt;. Before you transplant your seedlings or starter plants, thoroughly soak the potting mix, then let it sit for a few hours to drain the excess water adequately.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Wet the Root Ball Before Transplanting It&lt;/strong&gt;. Thoroughly wetting your plant’s root ball right before transplanting it is the only way to ensure it gets adequate water. That’s because the soil within the root ball can actually become hydrophobic (repel water) over time, according to the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources&lt;/a&gt;. If that happens, the roots can’t absorb water no matter how much you water the surrounding soil. So make sure it’s well-watered before transplanting it.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Plant Shallowly&lt;/strong&gt;. Place individual plants just deep enough to cover the root ball. Essentially, you want to place them at the same level at which they were growing in their original container. The exception to this is tomatoes, which you should bury so deep that part of the stem is underground. Tomatoes can grow roots from their stems, so burying them deeper helps them grow a stronger root system.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Don’t Pack the Soil Too Tightly Around the Plant&lt;/strong&gt;. Tap down the soil around each plant just enough to hold it in place but not so tightly air can’t properly circulate.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Don’t Overcrowd Your Plants&lt;/strong&gt;. Although you can certainly put more than one starter plant in a container if it’s big enough, avoid overcrowding, as it reduces your yield. Check the care instructions that come with your starter plants or seeds, which provide guidance on appropriate spacing. Typically, you want 3 to 4 inches between each plant.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Thoroughly Water Your Plants&lt;/strong&gt;. Just after transplanting, give your new container garden a good soak. According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt;Grow Journey&lt;/a&gt;, your new plants need to be watered immediately after planting to encourage the roots to grow into the new soil. But plants also need to be able to breathe. Oxygen must reach the plant’s roots, and the plant also needs contact with oxygen-dependent microbes to thrive. So avoid overwatering. Ultimately, the soil should feel like a wrung-out sponge — damp but not overly wet.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;5. Deciding Where to Put Your Containers&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;One of the benefits of growing your food in containers is the ease with which you can move them around according to their individual sunlight needs. Most food crops require a lot of light — at least six hours of full sun per day, according to the NGA. Rotate your containers weekly to avoid uneven growth.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Although most food plants require a lot of light, a few do better with some shade. Pay close attention to the care details that come with your starter plants or seed packets.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Wind is another factor to consider to safeguard your plants’ health. To prevent damage, place containers with large plants, such as tomatoes or peppers, in sheltered areas. If you’re gardening in an urban area, avoid placing plants in narrow alleys or other spots that produce a wind-tunneling effect. And use wire cages or other&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; plant supports&lt;/a&gt; to protect large and vine-producing plants, such as tomatoes, eggplant, beans, and squash.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;6. Maintaining Your Garden&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Planting your container garden is just the beginning of your journey to healthy and delicious homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Throughout the growing season — and potentially beyond — your plants need regular care to thrive and produce the highest possible quantity and quality of food.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To keep your plants healthy, water them every few days. It’s the most essential part of garden maintenance. But don’t overwater them, as that can lead to root rot or plant diseases like fungal infections. So skip giving your fruits and veggies a drink on rainy days. That said, when it comes to growing in containers, underwatering is more common, as water evaporates more quickly from containers than in-ground garden soil. And plants that stay too dry for too long will also die.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Keep an eye on the soil in your containers by sticking a finger into the dirt — don’t rely on eyesight alone. If the top inch of soil feels dry, it’s time for watering.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;When you water your plants, water as close to their base as possible. Splashing water on their leaves can lead to fungus growth. To help make watering more manageable, if you’re not using self-watering containers, install a drip-irrigation system. That involves winding hoses around the base of your plants to let water drip directly onto the soil, avoiding the leaves entirely. Get the full instructions on &lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt;CaliKim29 Garden &amp;amp; Home DIY&lt;/a&gt;’s YouTube channel.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To keep container soil moist, cover it with a layer of mulch. You can use &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;wood chips&lt;/a&gt; purchased from your local garden center or shredded cardboard. If you get a lot of deliveries, sending the boxes through a paper shredder to repurpose as garden mulch keeps them out of a landfill. Plus, it replenishes your soil as compost as it breaks down. But remove any tape first, as the plastic doesn’t decompose.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In addition to holding moisture, mulching your containers can cut down on weed growth.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Fertilizing &amp;amp; Composting&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you purchase a commercial potting mix, which typically comes fertilized, or add fertilizer to your own soil mixture, you don’t need to add any more for the first several weeks. Although fertilizer is necessary for plants to thrive, you don’t want to overfertilize, as it can cause plants to grow too quickly, become soft, and produce less-flavorful food.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;A month after planting, begin fertilizing your plants about once per month, which is sufficient for most specimens. Use organic fertilizer for the best-tasting and safest food, and if you buy a commercial product, read the package directions for usage guidelines. You can also make your own fertilizer by &lt;a href=””&gt;composting kitchen scraps&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Pest Control&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Pests can wreak havoc on your garden, whether you grow in containers or the ground. An insect infestation can destroy a crop and even kill your plants.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You don’t have to use chemical pesticides to keep pests at bay. One alternative is&lt;a href=””&gt; companion planting&lt;/a&gt;. There are numerous plants, such as marigolds and lemongrass, that dissuade pests. As an added benefit, some plants can help each other thrive and contribute to the health of your soil when grown together. You can companion-plant by potting them in the same container if it’s large enough, or you can simply group companion plants by placing pots next to one another.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Another alternative is to use natural and organic pest deterrents. For example,&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; neem oil&lt;/a&gt; keeps aphids at bay, and&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; diatomaceous earth&lt;/a&gt; dissuades ants. For some plants, physical barriers are also helpful. For instance, broccoli tends to attract worms and moths, but you can keep them away from your plants by surrounding them with&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; bug netting&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Dealing With Disease&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Although container-grown plants are less susceptible to disease than those grown in the ground, you should still keep an eye out for any signs of disease. If you spot any, remove or treat those plants promptly. &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt; has a handy visual guide to many common plant diseases.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And while you can reuse container soil yearly as long as you continue to amend it with compost, never reuse soil diseased plants grew in unless you sterilize it first. Otherwise, any new plants become susceptible to the same disease. You can sterilize small batches of soil by steaming it in a pressure cooker, baking it in an oven, or cooking it in a microwave. Get the full instructions on &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Gardening Know How&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;While not having to weed is one of the benefits of growing plants in containers, it’s possible errant seeds picked up by the wind may land in your pots. Just as you would with plants grown in the ground, pull any weeds you spot growing in your containers to prevent them from crowding out and pulling nutrients from your plants, reducing your food’s ability to thrive.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Harvest your fruits and vegetables as soon as they ripen. Generally, you should harvest early and often, as it encourages higher yields. &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt; has a guide on the best times to harvest many common garden vegetables.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There may be occasions when your fruits and vegetables ripen faster than you’re ready to eat them, but you can &lt;a href=””&gt;preserve your harvest&lt;/a&gt; by canning or pickling. As an added benefit, preservation allows you to continue enjoying your crops long after the growing season is over.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;7. Winterizing&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Most vegetables are annuals, meaning you must replant them each year. As long as they’re free of diseases, dig them up and dump them in your compost pile at the end of the season. Then winterize your containers by mixing some fresh compost into the leftover soil and covering it with a layer of mulch. The compost ensures your soil is fertilized and ready to go in the spring, and the mulch protects the soil from wind erosion and errant weed seeds throughout the fall and winter.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;A few food plants are perennials, which continue to grow yearly. But you still need to prep them for the winter. For example, if you usually keep strawberries or dwarf fruit trees — miniature versions of full-size trees that grow well in containers — outside, bring them inside or insulate them against the cold by grouping their containers and wrapping them with blankets. Also, drape the plants themselves with burlap or additional blankets to keep them safe from the cold.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Alternatively, you can store certain plants in a garden shed. Some fruits, such as blueberries, go dormant in the winter, so there’s no need to keep them in a sunny spot. However, lemon trees are used to warmer temperatures, so when you bring them inside, keep them in a light-filled corner to help them thrive.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Finally, you can bring herbs indoors and set them on a sunny windowsill where you can keep enjoying their yield year-round. In fact, herbs are ideal for both indoor and outdoor container gardening.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;All plants have different requirements, so check the care guidelines for your varieties.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;The Best Vegetables, Fruits &amp;amp; Herbs for Container Gardening&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone wp-image-240449 size-inpost_fullwidth” src=”×455.jpg” alt=”Beets Root Vegetable Wooden Table Fresh Organic” width=”696″ height=”391″ srcset=”×455.jpg 810w,×516.jpg 918w,×51.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px”&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Lots of food-producing plants grow well in containers. Pretty much anything you can grow in the ground can grow in a container as long as it’s big enough — even large crops you might never imagine, such as corn. But if you’re looking for the easiest way to start with food gardening, there are many vegetables, fruits, and herbs that can thrive in containers.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt;, the top vegetables to grow in containers include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Green beans&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Summer squash&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Swiss chard&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Winter squash&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Many fruits grow well in containers, including dwarf tree varieties, such as apples and lemons.&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Gardeners’ World&lt;/a&gt; says the 10 best fruits to grow in containers are:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Peaches and nectarines&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Herbs do exceptionally well in containers and represent perhaps the most significant money savings for container gardeners. When you consider a bundle of herbs from the grocery store can cost anywhere from $1 to $4, it’s clear that investing $2 in a starter plant or packet of seeds that produces perpetually can save you a lot of money over the long run.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Moreover, because many herb varieties can grow well in small containers, they’re easy to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; bring indoors&lt;/a&gt; during the winter so you can continue to enjoy adding them to your family’s meals year-round.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt;, the top herbs to grow in containers are:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Lemon balm&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Lemon verbena&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Final Word&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Food gardening can bring many rewards, whether you do it in the ground or containers. Growing your own food not only puts fresh and delicious produce at your fingertips, but it’s also enjoyable. There’s just something about food you’ve grown yourself that makes mealtime special.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And if you’re growing food for your family, your kids can get in on the action too. School garden research published in the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health&lt;/a&gt; in 2017 shows that kids are more apt to try a variety of fruits and vegetables when they helped grow them. And according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Cornell University&lt;/a&gt;, gardening can benefit children by improving environmental and nutritional awareness and promoting healthy eating. I can attest that my son is far more interested in vegetables he helped grow himself than in anything I grab from the freezer.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;That said, it’s easy to get excited about all the possibilities of growing your own food. But just as with grocery store produce, only plant things you and your family eat. Otherwise, you’ll not only negate any savings, but much of your harvest will go to waste.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As with any endeavor, start small at first. Plant a few containers to get a feel for how much your plants produce and whether you actually consume and enjoy your yield. You’ll gradually learn which plants grow best in your containers, the best ways to care for them, and whether gardening is something you enjoy (or can at least tolerate for the savings). Then, as you gain experience, you can keep expanding your garden.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;&lt;a href=””&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;a href=””&gt;(Why?)&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description>
<pubdate>Wed, 17 Mar 2021 18:45:51 +0000</pubdate>
<dc:creator>Sarah Graves</dc:creator>
<category>Family &amp; Home</category>
<category>Food &amp; Drink</category>
<category>Go Green</category>
<category>Home Improvement</category>
<media:content url=”” expression=”full”></media:content>
<title>35 Ways to Save Money on a Home Vegetable Garden</title>
<guid ispermalink=”false”></guid>
<description>&lt;p&gt;Penny-pinchers and green thumbs alike often tout gardening as a way to&lt;a href=””&gt; save on groceries&lt;/a&gt;. Yet it’s equally possible to spend a small fortune on it. For example, William Alexander, author of “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;The $64 Dollar Tomato&lt;/a&gt;,” explains how all his startup and maintenance costs resulted in an average expenditure of $64 for every tomato he produced.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Buying seeds, plants, grow lights, soil, tillers, watering hoses, shovels, pruners, soil amendments, fertilizer, and materials for raised beds, you can easily sink hundreds — even thousands — of dollars into your garden.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Fortunately, with a little ingenuity and a few do-it-yourself skills, you don’t have to spend a lot to get started growing your own food. In fact, it’s possible to&lt;a href=””&gt; start your own vegetable garden&lt;/a&gt; for next to nothing. There’s no need to spend on expensive fertilizers, potting soil, or even garden beds and containers. You can get it all for free. And even if you do end up investing a little money upfront, with a few tips and tricks, your garden can keep producing food for a long time to come for no cost at all.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Getting Started&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whether you choose to grow directly in the ground, set up raised beds, or&lt;a href=””&gt; plant in containers&lt;/a&gt;, getting your garden started is generally where people sink the bulk of the money. However, it’s possible to spend very little — or even zero — on getting set up no matter which gardening method you opt for.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;1. Get a Free Gardening Education&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Before you do anything else, do your research. The more you know about what’s necessary to grow your own food — which is very little — the more money you can save.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re a beginner, taking a course, reading a gardening blog, or watching free videos can turn you into an expert in no time. That means knowing what to spend money on, what to skip, and how to get maximum yield from your gardening efforts.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Look for free gardening courses through your local parks and recreation department as well as local garden clubs and&lt;a href=””&gt; community gardens&lt;/a&gt;. Additionally, university extensions frequently offer free options for beginners, including&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; online classes&lt;/a&gt;. A few other free online courses include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Organic Gardening Course&lt;/strong&gt;. The “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Introduction to Growing Organic Food Sustainably&lt;/a&gt;” course on Alison introduces organic gardening in a single two-hour session. Students learn how to maintain a vegetable plot and make compost in addition to best practices for organic gardening.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Home Gardening Course&lt;/strong&gt;. The “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Garden Tutor Master Course&lt;/a&gt;” on Garden Tutor is an eight-module course you can complete in two to three hours. Students learn everything from choosing, designing, and preparing your garden site to planting and maintaining it. Although it focuses more on decorative landscaping than vegetable gardening, the techniques are general enough to translate to caring for any kind of plants.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Butterfly Garden Course&lt;/strong&gt;. The “&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt;Create A Butterfly Garden&lt;/a&gt;” course on Udemy teaches you how to attract more butterflies to your yard, including what to plant in your garden to make it inviting to them.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Basic Vegetable Gardening Course&lt;/strong&gt;. The “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Watch Your Garden Grow&lt;/a&gt;” on the University of Illinois Extension is not exactly a course. But this collection of articles has all the makings of one. Visit the main course page, and you can click through sections like “Vegetable Gardening Basics” and “Planting the Garden.” Additionally, its vegetable directory page contains links for common vegetable garden crops. When you click a vegetable, you get information on growing and caring for the plant and a set of frequently asked questions, nutrition information, and even recipes.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’d rather go directly to what you want to learn — whether that’s how to build a cheap raised bed or prune your tomatoes — articles from a trusted gardening website can teach you all you need to know. A few quality ones include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;The National Gardening Association&lt;/strong&gt;. The website for the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;NGA&lt;/a&gt; contains a vast storehouse of articles on every type of gardening — from edibles like vegetables, herbs, and fruits to trees, lawn care, flowers, and houseplants.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;American Horticultural Society&lt;/strong&gt;. The&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; American Horticultural Society&lt;/a&gt; publishes&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; The American Gardener&lt;/a&gt;, a magazine delivered to paying members six times per year. However, their website has many of the magazine’s helpful articles on home gardening, which are free to the general public — just click the resources tab in the header menu. They also sponsor the “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Green Industry Leaders Network&lt;/a&gt;” podcast.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/strong&gt;. The gardening section of the website for the popular&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens&lt;/a&gt; magazine has various articles on all subjects related to home gardening — no subscription required.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Sometimes watching an experienced gardener plant a container with strawberries or prune a basil plant is more helpful than reading about it. For expert video demonstrations, visit the free resources available on YouTube. A few quality gardening channels to check out include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Garden Answer&lt;/strong&gt;. Hosted by Laura LeBoutillier, the “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Garden Answer&lt;/a&gt;” channel features informative videos covering food gardening as well as flowers and landscaping.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Epic Gardening&lt;/strong&gt;. Hosted by Kevin Espiritu, the “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Epic Gardening&lt;/a&gt;” channel focuses on urban and suburban gardening. It features tips for gardening in raised beds and containers.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;MIgardener&lt;/strong&gt;. Hosted by Luke Marion, “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;MIgardener&lt;/a&gt;” (or “Michigan Gardener”) features videos on organic gardening through all methods — in-ground, raised beds, and containers — including many videos on ways to garden for as little cost as possible.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;CaliKim29 Garden &amp;amp; Home DIY&lt;/strong&gt;. CaliKim focuses on organic backyard gardening. Additionally, her &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;CaliKim29 Garden &amp;amp; Home DIY&lt;/a&gt; YouTube channel features several videos with tips for cutting expenses.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Huw Richards&lt;/strong&gt;. The author of “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”;amp;keywords=grow+food+for+free&amp;amp;qid=1593464907&amp;amp;sr=8-2″&gt;Grow Food for Free&lt;/a&gt;,”&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Huw Richards&lt;/a&gt;’ channel focuses on ways to grow organic food inexpensively.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;2. Use a Free or Low-Cost Online Garden Planner&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Once you have an idea of how to garden, sit down and make a plan. What kinds of plants grow well in your area? What&lt;a href=””&gt; type of garden&lt;/a&gt; will you plant — in-ground, raised beds, or a container garden? How much sun do different areas of your yard or patio get? What kind of food do you want to grow?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Planning helps you avoid impulse buys. For example, I once impulse-shopped a seed catalog and ended up spending more than $100 on seeds only to discover I lacked space or couldn’t use most of them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you only have shaded areas and buy plants that require six to eight hours of full sun, you’ll have wasted your money on plants that will never produce well. Likewise, you’ll waste money if you buy more than you have space for. And while it may seem exciting to try exotic vegetables and herbs, it doesn’t pay off to grow something your family refuses to eat.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, some fruits and vegetables are more cost-effective than others. For example, a plant like a tomato continues to produce more fruits throughout the summer. But a carrot is one and done — plant one seed, get one carrot, and it’s over. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plant carrots. Just keep in mind that if free food is your top priority, some plants pay off better than others.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Once you know what vegetables you want to grow and how, start sketching out your space. You can do that by hand or use a free online tool. Some to try include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Garden Planner&lt;/strong&gt;. You can try the demo version of &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Garden Planner&lt;/a&gt; free for 15 days before committing to the full purchase price. In the meantime, the trial lets you add both objects and plants, which is perfect if you’re gardening in containers. It lets you see how much space you have on your patio.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Plan-A-Garden&lt;/strong&gt;. The &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Plan-A-Garden&lt;/a&gt; app from Better Homes &amp;amp; Gardens is an ideal planner for those looking to landscape an entire yard, as it lets you drag and drop hundreds of different plants as well as yard structures like fences, sheds, fire pits, gates, basketball hoops, swingsets, and even garden gnomes.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Smart Gardener&lt;/strong&gt;. The online garden planner from &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Smart Gardener&lt;/a&gt; is best for those who plan to garden in raised beds. It allows you to design your beds in custom shapes and sizes and then drag and drop your plants into them. You can then print your custom plan, including required plant spacing and seed depth. Smart Gardener is not free, but plans start as low as $10 for 90 days or $30 for 360 days and include customized to-do lists, harvesting instructions, and gardening tips for your individual garden design — making it an ideal option for first-time gardeners.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;3. Get a Free Soil Test&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Healthy soil is essential to a healthy garden. If you’re planning an in-ground garden, you need to test your soil to find out what plants will grow best in it or whether you need to amend it (add material to it to improve its physical properties) with nutrients.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Test the composition of your soil with a free DIY method using simple ingredients you likely already have.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h4&gt;Easy Soil Composition Test&lt;/h4&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This test tells you how much of your soil is clay, sand, and silt. It’s crucial to know how much of each you have because some plants don’t grow well in some soil types. For example, tomatoes don’t do well in clay soil, and carrots need sandy soil to grow well.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Spade (optional)&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;1 clear 30-ounce glass Mason jar with a lid&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Permanent marker&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;1 tablespoon dish detergent&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Using your hands or a spade, dig up an 8-inch-by-4-inch scoop of soil from your garden bed.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Fill the Mason jar 1/3 full with soil, and use the permanent marker to mark the soil line.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Fill the jar to within 2 inches from the top with water. Mark that line.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Add the dish detergent, screw on the top, and shake the jar vigorously.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Within about an hour, the soil will settle into layers of sand, silt, and clay. Mark each layer with the permanent marker. Using the ruler, measure each layer to find the percentage you have of each. For example, if you have 1 inch of each, your soil is 33.33% sand, 33.33% silt, and 33.33% clay.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;For more information on interpreting the results, visit the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Clemson University Cooperative Extension&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re in the United States, you can get a more comprehensive test of your soil, which tells you its pH and microbial and nutrient composition, by contacting the extension service of your state’s land-grant university, which you can find through the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”;amp;type=Extension”&gt; U.S. Department of Agriculture&lt;/a&gt;. Most offer free or inexpensive soil testing.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;4. Amend Your Soil With Household Ingredients&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;After you get your soil test results, add amendments to your soil to make it more productive.&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; The Planet Natural Research Center&lt;/a&gt; has a chart of basic soil amendments. But for free options, look to your kitchen scraps. Although you can add most kitchen scraps to your compost (except for meat, dairy, and oils, which will cause odor problems and attract pests), the most beneficial ones include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Eggshells&lt;/strong&gt;. Eggshells add calcium to your soil, which is essential for all plants, especially for tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, peppers, and potatoes, according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; Dave’s Garden&lt;/a&gt;. The best way to use eggshells is to dry them for three to five minutes in a 250-degree F oven. Once they’re cool enough to touch, put them into your blender and crush them into a fine powder before adding them to your soil. Grinding them helps them decompose much quicker for more immediate use by your plants. For full instructions and other ideas for using eggshells in your garden, visit&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Attainable Sustainable&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Coffee Grounds&lt;/strong&gt;. According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; The Spruce&lt;/a&gt;, coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen — a critical nutrient that helps plants produce flowers, vegetables, or fruits. They also help aerate the soil. Just toss your used grounds, which were destined for the trash anyway, into your compost bin or directly into your garden. Even if you don’t drink coffee, you can still get used coffee grounds for free. Just ask for them at your local coffee shop.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Banana Peels&lt;/strong&gt;. According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Gardening Know How&lt;/a&gt;, banana peels add various nutrients to your soil, including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphates, potassium, and sodium. However, they suggest tossing them into your general compost bin, where they’ll break down faster, rather than simply burying them in the dirt where they’ll take longer to decompose.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Epsom Salts&lt;/strong&gt;. While not exactly a kitchen scrap,&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; Epsom salts&lt;/a&gt; are a free (or inexpensive if you have to buy them) way to add magnesium to your soil. According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Bob Villa’s website&lt;/a&gt;, you can add them directly to your garden. Sprinkle some in the planting holes of garden vegetables like peppers and tomatoes or make a natural fertilizer by mixing one tablespoon of Epsom salts per gallon of water. Water your garden with the mixture once per month.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;5. Start Slow&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s easy to throw away a lot of money trying out different kinds of plants. Whether from lack of know-how or buying too much, you waste a lot if you go too big too soon. Also, though gardening might sound like a fantastic idea now, it’s a lot of work. You may later decide it’s more work than you want to invest. Instead, start gradually.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Try a few well-producing plants you know your family loves — like cherry tomatoes. Then test out your skills and get a feel for how much you enjoy gardening and eating the fruits of your labor. Keep notes on what worked, what didn’t, and what you’d like to try planting next year. Then keep gradually adding in new plants and expanding your garden as your needs and desires dictate.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You need different tools for different gardening methods, but regardless of which you opt for, you don’t need to spend a lot to get started.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;6. Buy as You Go&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s easy to get carried away buying equipment in the beginning. And you can put a lot of money into buying a bunch of tools, only to discover later you don’t use most of them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For example, I’ve gardened exclusively in containers for years. And though I own a few garden tools, I rarely use any of them. I often dig in the dirt using just my hands. And the only tool I use consistently is my hand pruner. So rather than stock up on tools you think you might need, wait to see what you actually need.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;7. Get Equipment Secondhand&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you just can’t wait, buy a few tools secondhand and take notice of which ones you reach for repeatedly. Even if you start with a few poor-quality or damaged tools, going this route lets you see where to invest your money when you’re ready to buy high-quality equipment. However, it’s also entirely possible to get good-quality tools secondhand. People often resell equipment that’s in good condition because they no longer have a use for it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Search resale sites like&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; eBay&lt;/a&gt;,&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Letgo&lt;/a&gt;, and&lt;a href=””&gt; Craigslist&lt;/a&gt; for used gardening tools.&lt;a href=””&gt; Garage sales&lt;/a&gt; are also a popular place to find tools you can use in your garden, including shovels, trowels, fencing, seed-starting flats, garden art, stakes, trellises, pots, and containers you can repurpose as planters.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Also keep an eye out for things you can use in your garden — free for the taking — through your local&lt;a href=””&gt; Freecycle&lt;/a&gt; group. Members often list stuff that’s perfectly fine. They just need to offload it for some reason, whether that’s because they’re no longer using it or they’re moving. Freecycle is an especially useful place to find free plants from owners looking to downsize before a move.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;One more place to check is with your residents or homeowners association. Some areas set up tool swaps among neighbors. And if your community doesn’t currently have one, you can always float the suggestion.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;8. Shop for Supplies at Discount Stores&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s possible to pick up a few basic gardening supplies at your local &lt;a href=””&gt;dollar store&lt;/a&gt;. For example, Dollar Tree carries hand tools, gardening gloves, small pots, seeds, and garden stakes in their seasonal rotation for spring. And if you’re shopping during another season, you can repurpose some of their merchandise. A laundry basket makes an excellent strawberry planter, as shown on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; DIY Everywhere&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, visit your local&lt;a href=””&gt; thrift store&lt;/a&gt;. Depending on what others have dropped off, you can score any number of useful supplies, including pots and planters, watering cans, shovels and pruners, and garden decor.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Garden Beds &amp;amp; Containers&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There are many beneficial reasons to garden in raised beds and containers — including saving on space, avoiding the need to weed and dig up your yard, and gardening in high-quality soil.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;But with the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; average pot&lt;/a&gt; starting at $15 and&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; raised garden beds&lt;/a&gt; running nearly $100 or more, dropping money on container or raised-bed gardening can get out of hand fast. And that doesn’t even include the cost of soil, which can run $100 or more, depending on how many beds and containers you’re filling.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Yet there’s no need to forgo this type of gardening and its benefits. A little creativity and DIY skills can result in a container or raised-bed garden that costs little to nothing.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;9. Repurpose Containers&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’ve opted to grow your vegetables in containers, it’s tempting to buy the prettiest pots to house them in. But if your goal is to save money, you can repurpose just about any kind of container for gardening. If the container isn’t waterproof, you can make it waterproof by lining it with a plastic garbage bag.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Some things to keep in mind when it comes to the practicality and safety of repurposing containers for growing food include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Size&lt;/strong&gt;. Is it deep enough for the plants you plan to grow in it? Most vegetables need at least 10 inches of depth. Additionally, consider how many plants you want in each container. If you plan to grow several tomato plants in one container or a vining plant like cucumber or zucchini, you want something big — like a plastic storage tub.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Drainage&lt;/strong&gt;. If your container doesn’t already have holes in it, it needs them. Use a drill to make several in the bottom of your chosen containers so water can get out and your plants won’t suffer root rot.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Safety&lt;/strong&gt;. Don’t use anything that once housed toxic materials — like an oil can — as these chemicals could leach into your food. Additionally, although some have raised the question of safety when it comes to growing in plastic, as long as your containers are food-grade — recycle Nos. 1, 2, 4, or 5 — it’s safe to grow in them. And while many people question the safety of plastic in general — food-grade or otherwise — any chemicals that might leach into the soil are so low in dose they won’t affect your food, according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Garden Myths&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As long as a container meets these basic guidelines, it will work fine for growing food. So before you spend your money, first look around your house for anything you can creatively repurpose, such as:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A Hanging Shoe Organizer&lt;/strong&gt;. The small pockets of a shoe organizer are perfect for growing a variety of herbs. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; LifeHacker&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A Pair of Rain Boots&lt;/strong&gt;. Rain boots make a cute container for flowers, but they can also house small edibles like herbs. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Good Housekeeping&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A Suitcase&lt;/strong&gt;. An old suitcase adds vintage charm to your vegetable garden, plus it’s ideally suited for vegetables that need a little more space but not a lot of root depth, like lettuce. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; Hometalk&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A Rain Gutter&lt;/strong&gt;. If you have any extra gutter lying around, shallow-rooted lettuce grows well in it. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Garden Gate&lt;/a&gt; magazine.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A Reusable Grocery Bag&lt;/strong&gt;. Whether you opt for a nonwoven or fabric grocery bag, either works for herbs, lettuce, or deeper-rooted vegetables, depending on your bag’s size. As a bonus, a fabric bag allows your vegetables to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; air prune&lt;/a&gt;. Their exposure to air causes the roots to naturally “burn off,” so they’ll grow fresh, healthy offshoots. If not exposed to air, roots will grow around a pot in a restricted pattern. Get the instructions for grocery bag gardening on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; The Spruce&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Old Furniture&lt;/strong&gt;. Turn an old bed frame, a bathtub, the seat of a chair, a dresser drawer, or even the entire dresser into a planter. Anything that can act as a container can become a planter or garden bed. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; DIY &amp;amp; Crafts&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A 5-Gallon Bucket&lt;/strong&gt;. A 5-gallon bucket is the perfect size for growing plants that react poorly to crowding, such as a single tomato or pepper plant. But many other crops also do well in them, including cucumbers, squash, carrots, and melons. Plus, if you don’t have any on hand, they cost only a few dollars at your local hardware store. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Gardening Know How&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;A Plastic Storage Tub&lt;/strong&gt;. Large plastic storage totes are what most of my family’s vegetables are growing in, including tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and strawberries. Because they’re rather large, just about any vegetable grows well in them. Plus, they work almost the same as a raised bed, meaning you can plant several vegetables in each. And using them as a garden planter keeps old bins with cracks or missing lids out of a landfill. Even if you don’t have any extra-large plastic storage containers, you can purchase them for half the cost of a small planter. Get full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Hunker&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;10. Use Inexpensive or Found Materials for Raised Beds&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As with gardening in containers, setting up raised beds doesn’t need to be expensive. It means doing them yourself, but with a few basic DIY skills, you can construct them from repurposed materials, foraged materials, or inexpensive lumber. A few ideas for raised beds include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Cinder Blocks&lt;/strong&gt;. If you have any lying around,&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt; cinder blocks&lt;/a&gt; make sturdy walls for a garden bed that won’t rot over time like wood. If you don’t already have them, you can purchase them relatively cheaply for just over $1 per block. That means you can build an 8-foot-by-4-foot raised bed for about $20. Plus, they’re easy to set up — just lay them out in a rectangular formation. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Sunshine &amp;amp; Rainy Days&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Logs&lt;/strong&gt;. If there’s a tree going down in your neighborhood, ask the owner if you can have the logs. You can save them the cost of hauling them off. Dig trenches for your logs to rest in, and then lay them down. It’s a more rustic look than finished wood, but this free solution lasts just as long — if not longer. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Practical Self Reliance&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Rocks&lt;/strong&gt;. Rocks are another foraged material that make sturdy, long-lasting beds. Simply pile them in your desired shape like the spiral raised bed on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Family, Food and Garden&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Pallets&lt;/strong&gt;. Check with your local hardware store, recycling center, or garden supply store to see if they have any leftover&lt;a href=””&gt; pallets&lt;/a&gt; you can haul off for free. Then take them apart and use the wood to construct a raised bed. Just make sure it’s marked with an “HT” for heat-treated and not an “MB,” which stands for methyl bromide — a highly toxic pesticide. Get the instructions on the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; Gardening Channel&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Lumber&lt;/strong&gt;. To find inexpensive lumber, visit your local &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Habitat for Humanity ReStore&lt;/a&gt; or ask for second cuts (scrap lumber), which are available for steep discounts at your local lumber yard. Alternatively, build a 6-foot-by-3-foot raised-garden bed for under $20 using rot-resistant, chemical-free cedar fence boards. Get the instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Rocky Hedge Farm&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;11. Fill Large Beds &amp;amp; Containers With Natural Materials&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Unquestionably, one of the most significant expenses of starting a new garden is investing in high-quality soil. Your plants need it to thrive, but the cost can quickly outpace your budget — especially if you’re filling large beds and containers.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For example, an average 8-foot-by-4-foot raised bed that’s only 1 foot high is 32 cubic feet. A 1.5-cubic foot bag of&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt; organic gardening soil&lt;/a&gt; averages almost $9. You need at least 21 bags to fill a raised bed that size — a total of just over $188. For taller beds, multiply that amount by each additional foot of height.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You can significantly reduce the cost of filling deeper beds and containers by filling up the bottom with natural materials like logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, shredded cardboard or paper, and kitchen scraps. The roots of most vegetables don’t grow deeper than 10 inches. So use these free materials to take up the rest of the bed or container’s height and invest in good soil only for the top 10 inches.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This method not only saves you money, but over time, the natural material breaks down and returns nutrients to your soil, allowing your plants to thrive year after year — just like amending your soil with compost. In the meantime, the materials help aerate your soil and provide a home for beneficial microbes. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Self Sufficient Me&lt;/a&gt;’s YouTube channel.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Note this method works equally well in large containers as it does in beds. For example, we filled the bottoms of our plastic storage bins with shredded paper and cardboard, and our plants are thriving in them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you get a lot of packages delivered or typically shred your bills and financial statements, adding this material to your garden helps your plants and keeps them out of a landfill. Just don’t use any colored or glossy paper, as it can leach toxic chemicals into your plants. And remove any tape before you shred your cardboard boxes, as it doesn’t break down.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;12. Use a Soil Mix&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To cut down even further on the cost of soil, avoid it altogether and go with a mix of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite called Mel’s Mix after its inventor, Mel Bartholomew, author of “&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Square Foot Gardening&lt;/a&gt;.” Mix equal parts compost,&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt; peat moss&lt;/a&gt;, and&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; vermiculite&lt;/a&gt;, a natural mineral that helps aerate and hold moisture in the soil. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Growing in the Garden&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Note that the use of peat moss has raised some environmental concerns, as its harvesting contributes to the release of greenhouse gases, according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Scientific American&lt;/a&gt;. But you can use these general principles substituting something more environmentally friendly, such as&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; coconut coir&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Using a mix with either peat moss or coconut coir, you can fill your containers and beds for half the cost of buying bagged soil. Plus, you’ll never need to buy any more peat moss, coconut coir, or vermiculite. Although soil naturally sinks over time as the compost breaks down, the peat moss or coconut coir and vermiculite won’t. And you need to regularly amend your beds and container soil with compost (which is free) anyway to add nutrients back to the soil without relying on chemical fertilizers (which are not free).&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whatever you do, don’t dig up soil straight from the ground to use in your garden beds. Regular ground dirt isn’t light and airy enough for beds and containers. Plants need loose — not compacted — dirt to thrive, which is why you need to till in-ground garden beds every year. Additionally, beds and containers need good drainage as well as the ability to hold moisture to prevent both overwatering and underwatering. That’s where the coconut coir and vermiculite come in.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;13. Buy in Bulk&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you end up buying soil, the cheapest way to fill your raised beds is to skip the bags and buy it in bulk. Bulk&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt; topsoil&lt;/a&gt; is a fraction of the cost of bagged garden soil. Just keep in mind there are no fertilizers in topsoil, so you need to add compost to your beds and containers if going this route.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;14. Preserve Your Soil for Reuse Next Year&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whether you invest a little upfront in buying soil or making Mel’s Mix, you never have to buy either again. Just keep amending your soil with compost to ensure it has enough nutrients for your plants to thrive, and you’re good to go.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In fact, even if you garden in containers, you can still hang onto your soil for reuse. Just keep amending with compost the same as in your raised beds. The one exception is if the plants you grew in the containers acquired any diseases. If you regrow plants in infested soil, next year’s crop will be susceptible to the same diseases.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To ensure your reused soil is as healthy as possible, you can pasteurize it by scooping it into one or more black trash bags and then setting them out in the sun, a process known as &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;sun solarization&lt;/a&gt;. The &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;dark color of the bags helps the sun heat the soil&lt;/a&gt;, so any pathogens and harmful microorganisms die and become harmless. Alternatively, you can bake small amounts of soil in the oven or microwave. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Dengarden&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Sourcing Seeds &amp;amp; Plants&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Though seeds and starter plants aren’t nearly as expensive as containers and soil, there are still ways to save. The No. 1 tip is to plan. That helps prevent overspending on impulse buys you don’t have the space for or your family doesn’t eat. Additionally, look for cheaper ways to grow, like starting from seed, participating in seed swaps, and saving your seeds from one year to the next.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;15. Use Recycled Materials for Seed-Starting Pots&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If starting seeds indoors, there’s no need to spend a lot on materials — including seed-starting pots. Instead, reuse household materials that were bound for the trash. A few ideas include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Plastic Produce Containers&lt;/strong&gt;. Create a miniature greenhouse from a clear plastic strawberry or lettuce container by filling the bottom with soil, planting your seeds, and closing the top. Once the seedlings are hearty enough, separate them by hand and transplant them to your garden.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Egg Cartons&lt;/strong&gt;. Poke a hole in the bottom of each cup of an egg carton for drainage. Then fill the cups with soil and plant a seed in each one. If you use paper egg cartons, you can even plant the whole cup straight in the ground. There’s no need to take out the seedling, as the paper naturally decomposes.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Toilet Paper Rolls&lt;/strong&gt;. Stand the rolls straight up in a box, fill each with soil, and plant your seeds. As with paper egg cartons, these can go straight into the ground, as the cardboard tube also naturally decomposes.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Newspaper&lt;/strong&gt;. Fold newspaper into small pots, fill them with soil, and plant your seeds. These can also go straight into the ground. Newspaper breaks down even faster than cardboard, adding compost to the garden. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Learning And Yearning&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;K-Cups&lt;/strong&gt;. Used K-Cups already come with a hole in the bottom, and reusing them for seedlings allows you to repurpose everyday trash. These do double duty — you can also save the used coffee grounds for your garden compost. But gently scoop the seedlings out of these before planting them in your garden, as the plastic cups won’t break down.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Plastic Food Tubs&lt;/strong&gt;. Wash out sour cream, yogurt, or plastic salsa containers, poke holes in the bottom for drainage, fill them with soil, and plant your seeds. These make ideal containers for plants you want to let grow a little bigger and stronger before transplanting, like tomatoes or peppers, as they’re larger than some of the other repurposed options.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;16. Grow From Seeds&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The cost of a starter plant averages $3, whereas you can purchase a package of hundreds of seeds for $1 or less. Although many beginners are intimidated by seed-growing, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need heating pads, grow lights, or greenhouses.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Just add some soil to a container, plant the seed according to the package directions, set it in a sunny windowsill, water regularly, and be pleasantly surprised when something sprouts in a few days, weeks, or a month, depending on the fruit or vegetable. That’s how I’ve always done it, and the majority of my garden is grown from seeds.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, many seeds can — or should — be sown directly in the ground rather than started indoors in a seed tray or pot. Check the seed packet for directions.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;17. Grow Old Seeds&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To save even more on seeds, hold onto those you don’t use this year so you can sow them next year. According to the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Gardening Channel&lt;/a&gt;, vegetable seeds can last from one to five years, depending on the plant. But even seeds past their expiration date could potentially germinate.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you have old seeds or aren’t sure how old they are, try pre-germinating them. Dampen a paper towel, lay some seeds on it, and fold it over to cover them. Then put the towel into a plastic sandwich bag, which helps retain the moisture. You can plant any seeds that sprout (which could take several days to a week) in seed-starting pots to grow into starter plants. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; The Spruce&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;18. Swap Seeds&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you have leftover seed and are eager to try something new, save money by swapping your seeds with friends or a&lt;a href=””&gt; seed exchange group&lt;/a&gt;. They’re like a party where everyone shows up with seeds to trade. If you’re a brand-new gardener and don’t have anything to trade, consider going anyway. Gardeners tend to be generous with sharing seeds, and if they hear you’re just starting, they’re often happy to help. Other gardeners are also an excellent resource for advice.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To find a seed exchange group, explore your local parks and recreation department, local community gardens or garden clubs, or local arboretums. Alternatively, check out online options. Search Facebook for seed exchanges or gardening groups, join the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; seed exchange forum&lt;/a&gt; on Houzz’s Gardenweb, or join the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Seed Savers Exchange&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Or find out if there is a local seed lending library. These are similar to a book library: They allow you to “check out” seeds for free as long as you return an equal number of seeds at the end of the season. They’re similar to a seed exchange, but you don’t have to have any seeds upfront — which is particularly helpful if you’re just starting. Start your search at the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Seed Library Social Network&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;19. Use Seeds From Grocery Store Cast-Offs&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Another method for sourcing seeds at no cost is to ask your local grocery store for one or more of their castoffs. Overripe fruits and vegetables destined for the trash bin are at their peak for seed harvesting. However, not all varieties will produce.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For successful growth, use only nonhybrid produce. Hybrids initially produce a good crop, but their seed doesn’t usually result in tasty food, and it may not resemble the original vegetable. Generally, any fruit or vegetable labeled “heirloom” is safe to assume is a nonhybrid variety. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Networx&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;20. Save Seeds for Next Year&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Even if you invest a little money for this year, next year’s garden can be zero-cost if you save seeds from your own plants. Simply wait for your plant to produce a fruit or vegetable, let it fully ripen, then harvest the seeds.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To remain viable, seeds need to be completely dried and stored in a paper (not plastic) envelope to keep out moisture, which could cause them to rot. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; You Should Grow&lt;/a&gt;. And for a complete guide to saving seed from specific fruit, vegetable, and herb plants, see the encyclopedia of seed saving on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; The 104 Homestead&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;21. Regrow Plants From Kitchen Scraps&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In addition to harvesting seeds from produce you already buy, you can also grow a whole new plant from your kitchen scraps. Produce that can regrow itself includes:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Onions&lt;/strong&gt;. Save about 1 inch of the root end of an onion bulb. Let it dry out for a day or two until the edges start to curl. Then plant it cut-side-up in soil.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Scallions&lt;/strong&gt;. Save the white bulb end with the roots, leaving a small amount of the pale green stalks, and plant it directly into the soil.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Celery&lt;/strong&gt;. Cut the root end from the stalks, leaving about 2 inches of celery. Place the end in a glass or dish with enough water to cover it without submerging it entirely. Then leave it out on a sunny counter. Change the water every couple of days to keep the celery fresh. After eight days, transplant it to soil.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Lettuce&lt;/strong&gt;. Cut the leaves about an inch from the bottom. Then place the bottom piece in soil.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Potatoes&lt;/strong&gt;. Plant whole potatoes or cut pieces with at least two eyes directly into soil and cover with mulch.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Garlic&lt;/strong&gt;. Separate the garlic heads into cloves and plant the cloves with the pointy side up in the soil. Note that the best time to plant garlic is in the fall, which results in a spring harvest. Also ensure your garlic is organic. Nonorganic garlic is treated with a growth inhibitor to prevent it from sprouting in the grocery store.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Ginger&lt;/strong&gt;. As with garlic, be sure to start with organic ginger, as nonorganic ginger is treated with a growth inhibitor. Like potatoes, choose a piece with several “eyes” — sprouting roots. Plant the pieces in soil, and keep it moist. Note that ginger is a slow grower. It will take a few weeks before you see shoots and a few months before any is ready to harvest.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Peas&lt;/strong&gt;. Sprout dried peas by placing them on a wet paper towel. Fold the towel to cover them, and then put them in a plastic bag. Once they sprout (in a few days), plant them in soil.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Basil&lt;/strong&gt;. Place the cut stem in a glass of water. Once it sprouts hairlike roots, which typically takes about 15 days, plant it in soil.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For more information and full instructions, see our article on &lt;a href=””&gt;growing food from scraps&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;22. Propagate From Cuttings&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You can propagate many plants from cuttings. These include blueberries, peppers, and tomatoes. To grow a new plant from a cutting, find a friend or neighbor with your desired plant and ask for a branch. Slice a cutting from right where the branch meets the main stem. Dip the end with some&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; rooting hormone&lt;/a&gt; and plant it in a pot. It will sprout roots within a week and be ready to transplant in two weeks. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Gardening Know How&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;23. Make Plant Markers From Repurposed Materials&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You definitely want to mark your seed pots so you don’t forget what you planted where. And even after transplanting, it’s best to mark your seedlings in the garden, as most plants look alike when they’re small. A few no-cost ideas include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Sticks&lt;/strong&gt;. Grab some sticks from the yard and use a vegetable peeler to scrape off some of the bark. Then write the name of the plant directly on the bare wood with a permanent marker. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Home Road&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Rocks&lt;/strong&gt;. Gather some small, smooth stones from outside, and write the plant names on them using a permanent marker or paint pen. If desired, get creative with some rock painting for a decorative touch. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Mavis Butterfield’s One Hundred Dollars a Month&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Plastic Food Tubs&lt;/strong&gt;. Cut strips from the sides of sour cream or yogurt containers and use a permanent marker to write the plant names on the blank white sides.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Wine Bottle Corks&lt;/strong&gt;. Save your corks or ask friends for a few of theirs. Then stick them on the end of a bamboo skewer, use a permanent marker to write the plant name on the cork, and plant them in your garden or seedling tray. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Mavis Butterfield’s One Hundred Dollars a Month&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Craft Sticks&lt;/strong&gt;. If you eat a lot of ice pops or have any craft sticks lying around, just use a permanent marker to write the plant name on one of them and stick it in the dirt.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Supporting the Growth Cycle&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Gardening doesn’t end once the plants are in the ground. To produce as much food as possible, you need to water, mulch, and fertilize them. And some plants — especially vines or those with branches that support heavy fruits or vegetables, like cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, and larger peppers — need the support of trellises, cages, or stakes.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you buy these in a store, they can add another hundred dollars or more to your total gardening costs. But a few DIY options can solve all these issues for next to nothing.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;24. Make Your Own Trellises &amp;amp; Cages&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;A single&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt; tomato cage&lt;/a&gt;, necessary for helping these plants support their branches and fruit, runs between $6 and $10 at a garden store, depending on the size. But you can make one yourself by foraging for sticks and branches in your yard and tying them together with twine. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Creative Jewish Mom&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Likewise, you can fashion any kind of trellis — from pea trellises to cucumber trellises to watermelon trellises — in almost any type — cage, conical, A-frame, or ladder — from fallen branches. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”;amp;t=552s”&gt; CaliKim29 Garden &amp;amp; Home DIY&lt;/a&gt;’s YouTube channel.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you don’t have enough branches for your needs or a yard you can gather them from, make trellises with inexpensive&lt;a target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” href=””&gt; bamboo poles&lt;/a&gt;. You can buy these in bulk from garden supply or hardware stores.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;25. Fertilize With Compost&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There’s no need to fertilize with expensive synthetics when you can&lt;a href=””&gt; make compost&lt;/a&gt;. It provides all the fertilizer your garden needs naturally, organically, and at no cost. Just collect your kitchen scraps (excluding meat, dairy, and oil, which cause odor problems and attract pests), shredded paper and cardboard, and yard waste like grass clippings and fallen leaves.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Avoid chemically treated yard waste, which could kill the beneficial microbes that feed on your compost to turn it into soil. Also avoid pet waste (it could contain parasites and germs), scraps or shavings from chemically treated wood, diseased plants, or black walnut leaves and branches (they’re harmful to plants).&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Simply throw your compostable scraps and waste in a pile in a corner of your yard. If you leave it alone, you should end up with finished compost in a year or two. To cut that time in half, water it and toss it from time to time. Keeping your compost wet helps it break down faster. And stirring it helps the microbes heat it, which also helps in the decomposition process.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’d rather keep your compost pile neatly contained, build a simple box using free pallets. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Lovely Greens&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re short on space, try composting in a trash can. Poke some holes so the compost can get air and toss the compost occasionally. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”;amp;feature=share”&gt; MIgardner&lt;/a&gt;’s YouTube channel.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re really short on space, it’s even possible to make compost in a 5-gallon bucket. Get the instructions on &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;CaliKim29 Garden &amp;amp; Home DIY&lt;/a&gt;’s YouTube channel. Or take up&lt;a href=””&gt; vermicomposting&lt;/a&gt; (worm composting). It’s perfect for small-space gardeners, as a worm bin doesn’t take up much room. And because the worms digest everything, you don’t need to worry about any smells.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Alternatively, skip the compost pile altogether and compost in place. Dig a hole in your garden bed to prevent your kitchen scraps from attracting flies or pests, then just bury it with dirt. Over time, it breaks down and adds nutrients to your soil, the same as finished compost. Get the full instructions on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; The Spruce&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;26. Mulch With Repurposed Materials&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Mulching, laying a ground cover over your soil, is crucially important to your garden’s health. It aids with water retention by keeping water from evaporating off the soil — especially in the heat of summer. It decomposes back into the soil, which helps fertilize and build up your soil. And it suppresses weeds, reducing the workload of your garden. Fortunately, mulching can also be zero-cost.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;A few free materials you can use as mulch include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Shredded Paper or Cardboard&lt;/strong&gt;. Run cardboard boxes or paper destined for the trash through a paper shredder to make scraps the ideal size and shape for mulch. Our beds and containers are all mulched with cardboard, and it works perfectly.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Grass Clippings&lt;/strong&gt;. Grass clippings break down fast, which means you have to re-mulch your beds often with this method. But grass clippings do double duty as a fertilizer, adding valuable nutrients into the soil as they decompose. Just avoid any grass clippings treated with weed killer, as it could also kill your plants.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Leaves&lt;/strong&gt;. Collect leaves in the fall and save them for mulching your garden beds in the spring. Running over them with a lawn mower first helps shred them to the perfect size for mulch. (Full-size leaves could potentially mat up and prevent rain from getting through.) If you don’t have trees on your property, look for neighbors who’ve set bags of raked leaves on the curb for pickup and ask if you can take them off their hands.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Chipped Branches&lt;/strong&gt;. This idea requires investing upfront in a&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; wood chipper&lt;/a&gt;. To cut costs, check Craigslist or Letgo. Once you’ve made the initial purchase, chipping fallen or pruned branches from your trees, bushes, shrubs, or roses will result in a decent supply of free mulch if you have enough woody plants on your property.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Dealing With Pests&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Even if you’re not looking to save money, using natural pest solutions that rely on everyday food-safe household ingredients keeps chemicals out of your food. Remember: Whatever you put on your plants also goes into your body. Fortunately, many organic and natural solutions are also low-cost.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;27. Plant Perennial Flowers That Attract Beneficial Insects&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Novice gardeners often think all bugs are bad, but only a handful of them are. In fact, sometimes it’s best just to let Mother Nature work her magic, as many beneficial insects naturally eat the bad ones.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For example, ladybugs prey on harmful pests like scale, mealybugs, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and mites, according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Get Busy Gardening&lt;/a&gt;. So if you indiscriminately kill all the bugs in your garden, you’ll interrupt the natural ecosystem and could face a worse infestation of the bad bugs.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Planting flowers and herbs that naturally attract beneficial insects keeps nature in balance and reduces the need for more expensive pesticides. Some of these include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Purple coneflower&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Shasta daisy&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Black-eyed Susan&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Visit the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Permaculture Research Institute&lt;/a&gt; for more information on which plants help attract which insects.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;28. Keep Pests Away With Kitchen Scraps&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If ants or aphids plague your garden, repel them with orange or banana peels instead of using harmful pesticides. According to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; SFGate&lt;/a&gt;, orange peels contain d-Limonene, a natural chemical that causes ants and aphids to suffocate and die. Orange peels also give off an odor that naturally repels them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Likewise, according to a 2017 study published in&lt;a target=”_blank” href=”″&gt; Nature&lt;/a&gt;, bananas give off pheromones — alpha and beta-farnesene — that are also emitted by aphids as an alarm when there’s a nearby predator. Therefore, bananas can help keep aphids away from your plants. Cut up the peels and bury them 1 to 2 inches deep around plants prone to aphid infestations. As a bonus, as the peels decompose, they also add nutrients to the soil.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;29. Make Your Own Pest Deterrents&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Avoiding harsh pesticides is better for the planet, your body, and your wallet — especially when you can make homemade insecticides and deterrents using common kitchen ingredients like garlic and cayenne pepper. A few recipes that work well include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Insecticidal Soap&lt;/strong&gt;. Soap kills most bugs on contact. And while it may seem too simple to be true, I’ve used this one to kill aphids on my tomatoes to great success. So if you have an infestation, spray them regularly with a small amount of mild dish soap mixed with water. Be careful because some soaps can also harm your plants. Avoid any with harsh chemicals like degreasers, such as Dawn. Fortunately, you can find effective mild dish soaps like Ajax at the dollar store. Get the full recipe on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Get Busy Gardening&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Homemade Garden Fungicide&lt;/strong&gt;. Certain crops, including cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and watermelon, are prone to fungal diseases. But you can keep the fungus at bay using just a couple of common household ingredients: baking soda, dish liquid, and water. Get the recipe on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Grow Network&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Homemade Garlic-Mint Insect Spray&lt;/strong&gt;. A homemade garlic spray deters more than vampires. It also keeps just about any garden pest, including slugs, snails, and aphids off your plants. And the spray doesn’t penetrate them, so your cucumbers won’t taste like garlic. This recipe of garlic, mint, cayenne pepper, and dish liquid works after just one or two applications — giving you better results than anything you could buy at the store. And if you don’t have mint on hand, you can omit it since its primary purpose in the spray is to make it smell better. Get the recipe on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; An Oregon Cottage&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Oil Spray&lt;/strong&gt;. An oil spray gets rid of sap-sucking insects like aphids, thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies. Plus, it only requires a bit of dish soap, some cooking oil, and water. Get the full recipe on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; SFGate&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Get the Most From Your Garden&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You redouble whatever money you save on your garden when you have a good harvest. That’s where a home garden can really help supplement your family’s food budget. Fortunately, increasing your yield has more to do with technique than spending lots of money.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;30. Keep a Journal&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;One benefit of starting slowly with only one or a handful of plants is that you get to see what works and what doesn’t as well as what you enjoy growing and eating. Every year, keep a gardening journal. Keep a record of things you’d like to try next year, things that didn’t work, or things that worked really well. This process of gradual trial and error combined with good note-keeping helps you increase your harvest every year.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, keeping a journal every year helps you organize gardening tasks, including scheduling planting, watering, harvesting, and fertilizing — which maximize your yield. Plus, if you keep track of when you do these things and how your garden came out, it can help you adjust for next year and keep growing your gardening skills to reap a better harvest. For example, this year, I planted my peas too late in the season, and they never bloomed. Peas don’t like the heat. So next year, I’ll know to start this cool-weather-loving crop earlier.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To help with your record-keeping, download free garden journal pages on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Green in Real Life&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;31. Follow the Growing Season&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Timing is critical when it comes to some vegetables. For example, if you try to plant spring peas in the warmer months of summer, the vines will grow, but they won’t produce. Similarly, if you plant cool-weather-loving lettuce in the warmer months, it will bolt — prematurely go to seed — and spend more energy producing flowers than salad greens. Lettuce and hearty greens like kale and collards love the cool weather so much that planting them in the fall is one way to extend the growing season.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So, for the maximum yield, follow the planting guidelines for your chosen produce and growing zone. To find the best time to plant certain crops in your zone, click the planting calendar for your area on&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; The Old Farmer’s Almanac&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;32. Succession-Plant&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Succession planting sets you up for a continual harvest. With some vegetables — like carrots — once you pull them up from the ground and eat them, they’re done. But if you plant some now, wait a month or two and then sow some new seeds, you can harvest more.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s also a productive way to make use of limited space. If you interplant fast-growing crops like lettuce with slower ones like cucumbers, after you’re done harvesting lettuce in the spring, the summer-blooming cucumbers will fill in the space. To help you make a succession-planting schedule, get a free printable at&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Modern Frontierswoman&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;33. Companion-Plant&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Some vegetables grow well together, and others don’t. Good companions — like tomatoes and basil — enhance each other’s flavor, attract pollinators, or provide shade for heat-sensitive crops.&lt;a href=””&gt; Companion planting&lt;/a&gt; means grouping together the plants that benefit each other and avoiding the bad combinations, which decrease your yield.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Companion planting is an advanced topic that can get overwhelming, although it’s fun to experiment once you have some gardening experience. In the meantime, however, there’s no need to stress. Try out some of the most proven combinations, and grow your expertise from there.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;34. Rotate Crops&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you plant the same things in the same spot each year, it can cause some major problems in your garden, including pest infestations, nutrient depletion, and plant disease, according to&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Grow a Good Life&lt;/a&gt;. That’s where crop rotation comes in. Rotating your plants every year helps them stay healthy. Some pests and diseases only attack certain crops. Similarly, some plants are heavy feeders, whereas others add nutrients back into the soil. So rotating them prevents recurring issues.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3&gt;35. Preserve Your Harvest&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;At certain times during the growing season, multiple vegetables begin ripening at once — potentially more than you can eat. So it pays to have a plan for&lt;a href=””&gt; preserving the fruit and vegetable&lt;/a&gt; excess from your garden.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For example, you can store potatoes, onions, and winter squash for months at cool temperatures in a cellar. You can freeze or&lt;a href=””&gt; can fruits and vegetables&lt;/a&gt; like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans. And you can dry herbs or chop them up, mix them with olive oil, and freeze them in individual portions in ice cube trays to use in future meal preparation.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And these aren’t the only ways to preserve your harvest. You can also include them in make-ahead recipes. For example, dice up peppers and include them in a&lt;a href=””&gt; make-ahead freezer meal&lt;/a&gt;. Shred zucchini and bake and freeze loaves of zucchini bread. Premake fruit pies and freeze them (before baking). Or make relishes or jam. Any of these options allow you to continue enjoying the harvest from your summer garden year-round. For example, my mom preserved strawberries from our backyard patch in homemade jam we ate all year.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whatever you do, don’t let your harvest sit in the fridge for more than a few days without preserving it in some way. Not only is it a shame to let all that&lt;a href=””&gt; food go to waste&lt;/a&gt;, but one of the best benefits of your hard work is the ability to preserve your food at the peak of its freshness. Grocery store produce is picked before it’s ripe, shipped to the store over several days or weeks, and sits on the store shelves for even longer. But homegrown food goes straight from garden to table. And preserving it before it sits for too long helps you hang onto that freshness, including all the nutrients.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Visit the&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; National Center for Home Food Preservation&lt;/a&gt; for guidelines on making the most of what you grow.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2&gt;Final Word&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Using even just a few of these cost-saving strategies can help you reap huge benefits.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;According to a 2018 survey conducted for the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;NGA&lt;/a&gt;, gardeners spend an average of almost $100 on vegetable gardening. And &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;Simplify Gardening&lt;/a&gt; notes it’s not unusual to spend anywhere from $400 to $3,500 on a vegetable garden. But the &lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt;NGA&lt;/a&gt; reports that you could get as much as $600 worth of food from your garden by growing as little as $70 worth of vegetables. And relying on some of these low- or no-cost garden hacks can increase your return on investment even further, getting you the most bang for your gardening buck.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And while saving money is undoubtedly one of the benefits of growing your own food, there are plenty of others as well. These include:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;li&gt;The joy of making something from nothing&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Knowing exactly where your food comes from&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Doing something good for the planet by reducing the carbon footprint involved in food transportation&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;The ability to grow healthy, nutritious, and&lt;a href=””&gt; organic food&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Getting some exercise&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Spending time communing with nature, which research like a 2014 study published in&lt;a target=”_blank” href=””&gt; Ecopsychology&lt;/a&gt; has shown improves mental health&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Additionally, if you have kids, getting them involved in the garden helps encourage healthy eating and the willingness to try new things. It’s typically a struggle to get my 5-year-old to touch a vegetable, but he’s excited to try the peppers, carrots, and cucumbers he helped grow himself. Plus, gardening gets kids outside, where they’re enjoying the sunshine and away from screens, making it a perfect&lt;a href=””&gt; summer activity&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;

&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;&lt;a href=””&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;a href=””&gt;(Why?)&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</description>
<pubdate>Wed, 10 Mar 2021 21:40:33 +0000</pubdate>
<dc:creator>Sarah Graves</dc:creator>
<category>Family &amp; Home</category>
<category>Food &amp; Drink</category>
<category>Go Green</category>
<category>Home Improvement</category>
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</rss><body id=”readabilityBody”></body><p><strong><a href=””></a></strong> <a href=””>(Why?)</a></p>

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