Totally FREE

Ways to Start a Garden  This Year

Save (on) Seeds

Save the seeds from the produce you buy in the supermarket, or better still, start a seed swap with your neighbors.

Garden Giveaways

Check with your local parks department or other agency to find out whether they offer free mulch from cast-off Christmas trees, downed tree branches, or municipal cuttings.

Turn Trash to Compost

Save all your kitchen scraps, grass cuttings, and yard waste to start your own compost pile.

Grow New Veggies From Kitchen Scraps

Many supermarket vegetables can be grown from leftover bits or root ends; the list includes plenty of kitchen staples like lettuce, potatoes, garlic, ginger, celery, onions, and more.

Mark Plant Rows With  Found Items

Use a paint pen, fingernail polish, or a colored Sharpie to write the names of the plants on the blade, bowl, or handle of the utensil; then stick them into the soil alongside the plants for a kitschy, kitchen-y display.

Fortify Plants With  Cooking Water

As long as you haven't added salt to the solution, you can reuse the cooking water (once it has cooled down, of course) to give your garden a healthful boost.

Ward Off Worms Pests With Toilet Paper Rolls

Make cutworm “collars” to deter pests—and protect young seedlings.

Layer New Beds  With Newspaper

If you’re looking to start a new garden plot, don’t waste time and effort digging up small patches of grass and weeds. Instead, smother the existing growth with newspapers. Cover six to eight layers of newspaper with compost, soil, or mulch to keep the paper in place.

Get Free Advice

Your local cooperative extension office, another under-used resource, provides free advice from a trained master gardener who knows which plants will or will not do well in your area.

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