Easy Tips for Growing Your Own Food

This affordable product resembles a small duffle bag. Herbs like rosemary, mint, chives, and oregano can be used with nearly every meal and spice up everything from roast chicken to pasta to Mexican food. They are also incredibly cost-effective to grow. Fresh store-bought herbs cost $2 to $4 each, and don't have a long shelf life.

Keeping Plants Under Control

Garden Grids
($26.95 (set of four), available at Gardener's Supply Co.)

These flexible grids act as supports for climbing plants, Bounds says, and are a simple replacement for metal cages or stakes. Good support helps keep branches from breaking.

Revolution Planter
($19.95, available at Gardener's Supply Co.)

The Revolution Planter grows tomatoes upside down, so you don't even need a cage. Just make sure you have a strong hook.

Save Money, and the Environment, by Saving Water

Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix
($5.49 for 8 quarts; $8.49 for 16 quarts, available at gardening and home supply stores)

Watering is time-consuming, but crucial to plants' survival. Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix is fortified with moisture-absorbing coconut fibers to protect against over- and under-watering.

Toro "Drip" Starter Kit
($9.99, available at gardening and home supply stores)

This inexpensive three-step drip irrigation system is designed specifically for containers, hanging baskets and people who might think an irrigation system is too costly or complicated. Turn it on and walk away to do other things, while water drips into your plants for 20 minutes. Drip irrigation is more efficient because it gets directly to the roots of the plants.

The Garden of the Future

Farm in a Box
($249 online only at Home Depot)

The brand new Farm in a Box runs off what's called an aquaponic system. There are fish in the bottom and vegetables at the top -- no soil needed. A closed loop water system lets the fish waste fertilize the vegetables for free. You can eat the vegetables, and depending on what type of fish you get, you can eat them, too. Together they create a self-sustaining little ecosystem, which has the added bonus of being a great conversation piece and learning tool about food-growing -- especially if you've got kids. You can even stick it inside by a sunny window.

For more information, visit Earth Solutions' Web site.

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