When the news is mostly bad and you feel the need to escape to a better place... go to the garden. In this uncertain time when money, or lack of, is on your mind... go to the garden. All you need is some basic tools: rake, shovel, pitchfork, bucket, newspaper or cardboard, wheelbarrow and water.
Wet the newspaper in the bucket, use the water hose to outline a space where you plan to plant (vegetables, herbs, flowers, whatever). Cover the area with the wet paper and cover the paper with an organic material. Organic material, you ask? That was not on the list.
You need to use the rake to collect leaves, grass clippings or pine needles (in addition to other organic material you may have access to, this is just what I have). I use my wheelbarrow to carry grass from my neighbors and leaves from my woods. When I collect piles of pine needles or leaves I use the pitchfork to pick them up and transfer them to the wheelbarrow.
Once I have laid down the wet paper and covered it with organic material I can walk away or continue layering more material: chopped leaves, grass clippings, more leaves, more grass clippings, etc. until I have enough layers to plant in. This is where the shovel comes in.
Using your longhandled shover, lift plants in other parts of your garden and bring them to the new space. Use the shovel to cut the plants into smaller pieces and pulling the layers aside, down to the paper, set the plants on the paper and cover the roots with the layers of organic material. Water each plant well.
If there is a need for a path around your garden use cardboard to cover the area, right on top of the grass or weeds. Cover the cardboard with a mulch of chipped wood or your personal choice of path material. I use chipped wood because it is free for the asking at your local sawmill or from landscapers or tree companies that are cutting and chipping in your area. My path has been in place for four years and has needed no maintenence except for another layer of chips.
I use my shovel and bucket to haul compost from the dumping area near my house to add to my gardens, one layer at a time. By keeping a small shovel and bucket or plastic bag in your car you can bring home other materials: composted manure from the stables, spoiled hay from a work site or barn, broken bags of material from the garden center or chopped corn stalks from a farm. Anything to add another layer of organic material is worth being prepared for.
As your garden matures the different materials will break down much as a compost pile does. The layers of grass clippings, manure or compost as nitrogen and the brown leaves, pine needles and hay as carbon. The layers that were twelve or fourteen inches high will decompose to only five or six inches. If you have plants growing in your layers their roots will be exposed if you don't continue layering around the plants. It is an on-going process.
Seeds are cheap and you can add them to your No-cost Garden at any time and they will do as well as if they had been planted in a tilled garden but with out the weeds. The layers of newspaper will block weeds and grass from coming up in your beds.
I hope this post will add to the things you can do with out spending any money. I also hope it will encourge you to get away from the news and concentrate on things that you actually have some hope of bringing positive change to.