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Low Waste, Low-Cost Gardening and Houseplant Care

The past year brought the green thumbs out of many of us around the country. Gardening stores and nurseries saw their seed stocks depleted and small houseplant shop sales boomed as people sought to reconnect with nature during the pandemic. Social media feeds were flooded with images and video reels of lush, colorful gardens with native flowers and bountiful vegetable harvests, as well as windows and shelves lined with the popular houseplants in the market today. Whether you are a gardener or houseplant enthusiast, here are some tips on low waste gardening and houseplant care.

Upcycle old containers

It is easy to get tempted by the craftsmanship of new pottery to house the latest addition your plant collection in your home and garden, but the prices can be steep and you may already have a budget-friendly option at home. Most kitchens are stocked with glass jars and bottles, or plastic containers from takeout or yogurt tubs. Glass jars and bottles work well for propagating houseplants to make new plants, and for eventually gifting them or raising them yourself. Plastic containers are great for container gardening if you have limited space, such as a windowsill, balcony, or small yard.

Compost your food scraps

Like humans, houseplants, garden plants and flowers need sunlight, water, and nutrition to thrive. A free to low-cost way to keep your plants healthy is by adding compost so they have the necessary nutrients to grow. Everyone produces some proportion of food scraps from their kitchen preparation—think of apple cores, vegetable skins, orange peels—all of which make for the “green” component to a compost pile. You can try your hand at composting at home (indoors or outdoors) or you can buy finished compost at your local plant shop or gardening store.

Practice seed saving

Where does our food come from? This is a question that has come up time and again when people purchase produce from the grocery stores but do not know how it is grown. When we prepare food at home, there may be seeds we can harvest and save to grow on our own. This is called seed saving, or seed keeping, an ancient agricultural practice that has been maintained by Indigenous peoples for generations to preserve genetic diversity among crops and promote food sovereignty. Here in our homes, we can practice seed saving to prevent food waste, save money from buying seed packets or food, and reconnect with the earth by learning how to grow food ourselves. Simply save the seeds from fruits and veggies you eat, wash them off if necessary, dry them on a clean towel, and store them in a small jar or cloth bag (with best results) in the fridge until you are ready to plant them.

Participate in local plant swaps and trades

One of the best parts of plant parenthood is the community. Wherever you are located, there are people in your neighborhood who are avid gardeners or houseplant collectors who share mutual interests in cultivating their green thumbs and sharing best practices and plants! By tapping into this community, you can connect with local neighbors and participate in plant swaps and trades instead of buying from big box stores. The best part about this activity is that it’s free! Certain plants, like succulents do better than others as far as trimming off a stem and replanting them, and watching them regenerate.

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