If you were to take a look around the house I bet you could find tons of things that you could use in the garden. Old CD’s or DVD’s, bowls or tubs can all be recycled somehow and used in the garden. To help you get started I have listed some of the one’s I use, some of the items you may be familiar with and use them already, some may surprise you, the chances are you will have most of these in and around the house already.
Yes tin cans! Whenever you open that tin of beans or tomatoes and the top has a ring pull you can use them as plant pots. A word of caution here, be careful with the edges once open as some can be sharp so do not use them. Some, like the ring pull one’s have smooth edges once open and they are perfect for pots. Put a hole in the bottom, clean them and remove the label and away you go. They will last a season at least before they start to rust but are perfect for plants and even veg like lettuce.
Every time you go to a Chinese restaurant do you pickup some chopsticks and take them home? Yeah so do I and these are perfect for using as supports on plants or seedlings that need supporting.
Knives, Forks and Spoons
People usually buy these for picnics, BBQ’s and parties. They are cheap to purchase and you can buy either plastic or wooden ones. Once finished with or if you know you will no longer use them why not use them in the garden? They make excellent plant identifier labelers. You could put the plant and date sown and have room for more info, maybe the Latin name. Whatever you write on them make sure it’s with a permanent marker. That way the writing will stay on for longer.
Lolly or Popsicle sticks are another excellent way of labeling the plants, vegetables and seeds in and around the garden. They usually come in the wooden variety although I have seen some plastic one’s too. Again just make sure you write on them using a permanent marker.
Plastic Containers/Plastic Bottles
There are lots of things you could do with plastic bottles or containers so lets start with the containers first.
- The margarine tubs you buy at the supermarket are excellent for mini planters and as they have a lid even better for small propagators. Put small holes in the bottom and lid then fill with compost then seed.
- Now I have blogged about these on my blog and I am also going to tell on here. The coffee to go you purchase from the supermarket. You know, the ready made espresso or latte drinks that come in plastic cups and you drink them cold. Well the cups are another excellent planter and are perfect for seeds. Save the lid and again you have a mini propagator.
- Plastic food trays that you get at the supermarket, usually with fruit or veg in, well they too make great planters. Make sure you wash them out thoroughly first and put holes in the bottom. You could grow vegetables in them too like lettuce and radish.
- Another excellent idea for plastic containers is to use them under plant pots or seed trays and if you over water them, the tray will collect the water and it won’t go everywhere.
When you buy paint is it in a plastic container? I have brought 10 liters before and the paint was in a plastic tub so I use them in a number of ways:
- I have one to collect compost for the compost bin. As it has a lid on there’s no smell in the kitchen either.
- I also use one when transferring my home-grown compost from the compost bin outside to the flower or vegetable beds.
- Fill with compost and plant seeds in it or take plants from the garden and make a planter. Vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beetroot are excellent when grown in this tub as are radish and lettuce. Just give the tub a good wash and if you are using it as a planter, put holes in the bottom.
- One more thing I do with paint tubs where I live is collect rainwater. I can collect up to 10 liters of water in each tub so it’s definitely worth it to me. Just don’t leave it standing too long or insects like mosquitoes will love you for it and lay their eggs in the water!
Now let’s concentrate on plastic bottles.
- Cut the bottom of a plastic bottle and the top becomes a funnel so you can fill up those water containers or sprays without spilling any liquid.
- The cut bottom half can be used for a planter for seeds. Just put small holes in the bottom.
- If, like me, you make your own liquid plant food (I am currently soaking seaweed in a baby bath) then you will need something to put it in, and what better than an empty plastic bottle. Just remember to label it up using that permanent marker.
- If you have a big bottle then cut the bottom off then turn upside down. You can use that as either a bird bath or put food and water in for the birds in winter. Put a couple of holes in and thread string through to hang it up in the tree.
Yes old paint trays are excellent for seed trays. Give them a good wash out before using and put small holes in the bottom for water drainage and away you go.
Carpets and Rugs
Don’t laugh! Look, if you have a compost heap then it needs covering so what better way? My dad used an old carpet on top of his compost heap and it produced the most amazing compost I have ever seen. Even the other gardeners from the street came over to “borrow” some compost for their gardens. Another good way of using old carpets or rugs is to use them to kneel on when weeding or picking flowers or vegetables. Well it beats having bad or dirty knees now doesn’t it?
So there you have it. Reusing and recycling something for the garden isn’t hard but it can save you money and the environment in the process. The list above is just a brief insight into what you can reuse in and around the garden. Why not get the kids involved too and turn it into a recycling game? It’s a great way of introducing them to the garden, frugal living and environmental issues don’t you think?