Growing a Garden, Even a Small One

If you eat a lot of veggies, you know they can be expensive. Yet for just a few dollars for the seeds, you can grow an entire garden of fresh vegetables every year. And if you have extras of easy-to-grow vegetables like tomatoes, you can freeze them for use in pasta sauces in the winter.

Using Your Patio or Balcony

Even if you don't have an extra acre out back to grow a garden, you can still raise vegetables. Many veggies grow well in outdoor containers on a patio or balcony, if you're careful to keep them well watered, well drained, and protected from freezing weather at night.

Growing Organically

To save money and protect your health, grow your vegetables organically. The trick to gardening without chemicals is to start with excellent soil. Improving your soil may cost you some money, but it'll pay off for years to come.

To be sure, however, that you're actually getting more benefit from your garden than you're paying in soil, seeds or plants, and equipment, total up what you get out of your garden the first year and compare that to what you spent to get started.

An alternative to growing your own garden is shopping at a farmer's market in your area. You'll usually pay lower prices than in a grocery store for fresher, less-processed fruits and vegetables. And you can still freeze the bounty when you find especially good deals on fresh produce.

If you're not going to be living in your house in three years, don't bother growing asparagus or planting fruit trees, which take several years to grow before they bear a harvest.

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