No land? You can still garden
Even if your 'back 40' is actually a balcony 40, try veggies or herbs in containers.
The Renee's Garden seed company even offers container zucchini, which means that now city dwellers can have squash surpluses, too.
Your "harvests" won't be giant, but they'll likely pay for themselves -- have you priced lettuce lately? More to the point, have you ever tasted freshly picked greens? A mesclun mix with a light vinaigrette, say, or beet greens and chard braised with a little olive oil and garlic? Just-picked produce is so succulent that you may not care whether you have a meat course. (Post continues after video.)
- Bing:What is mesclun?
Entire books are written about small-space gardening, so obviously I can't cover everything in a single blog post. For starters, I'll suggest a few resources:
- National Gardening Association. Click "Regional Gardening Reports" in the left-hand column.
- Cooperative Extension System. Invaluable advice offered in every U.S. state.
- Renee's Garden. The company has a downloadable .pdf file all about container gardening.
- The Urban Organic Gardener. Blogger Mike Lieberman offers tons of free advice for beginners.
- American Community Garden Association. If you don't even have a windowsill, search the association's database for a piece of land you can rent.
About that soil: Containerized plants do best with commercial potting soil versus "dirt" poached from the park. I've seen the stuff at dollar stores.
You must fertilize regularly; see the garden links above for tips. Or improve your soil (and recycle kitchen scraps) with gleanings from a homemade worm composting box. (They don't stink. Honest.)
A few other frugal ideas:
- Cash in some free gift cards to Home Depot or Amazon.com to pay for supplies.
- Search online coupon sites like Retail Me Not, Savings.com and FatWallet.com for hot sales and free shipping codes. Search cash-back shopping sites such as Extrabux and Mr. Rebates, too.
- Ask if you can have the pots from church flowers after Easter. You'll likely be keeping them out of the landfill.
- Watch for seed sales. I've seen packets as cheaply as five for a dollar at Walgreens.
- Make a self-watering container garden for less than $5 with a video how-to from Lieberman on the Urban Organic Gardener website.
They enjoyed watching their gardens grow and savored some of the best produce they'd ever eaten. They knew what went into the production of their food (chemical fertilizer or organic? bug spray or insecticidal soap?). And they knew exactly how fresh it was because they picked it themselves, right before they ate it.
You can, too.
Readers: Do you garden in containers? Have any tips to share?
More on MSN Money:
Old used styrofoam cooler boxes make great containers for vege gardens...have some depth, insulate the roots and are light to carry.
(and a shared back patch of a row house in brooklyn to boot)
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
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Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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