If you have access to large, sturdy cardboard boxes like I do, use them as compost bins. Not only are they biodegradable, they're free. I use only the very thick (almost an inch) ones that are large enough to hold 3 cubic feet of material. Sometimes I need to cut the carton's dimensions so that I can easily turn the pile. You can leave the tops and/or bottoms on to protect it from the elements, or just use a tarp if you wish. Simply drill or poke holes with a screwdriver anywhere you want. I live in southern California, and my bins last an average of year or longer. When the sides get too soft, I just throw them in my new bin for compost. If you don't have these big thick boxes available, ask around at warehouses or maybe even those home improvement centers.
-Suzie, Torrance, Calif.
I love the look of clay pots but they are not always the best choice for water loving plants, such as impatiens. I have found that the pots don't dry out as quickly when I line the pots with landscaper's fabric (dark plastic with many tiny holes in it) before filling them with dirt. This works especially well in my flower boxes. I use this along with the water-retention crystals and pots my pots don't go limp in the hot afternoon sun.
Success with Avocados
The avocado in the back yard of our home in North Long Beach was beautiful but wasn't bearing fruit. I literally told the tree "if it didn't bear fruit next season...", the wood pile! It worked.
-Stephen, Los Alamitos, Calif.