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7 Reused Items to Boost Your Garden

October 10, 2011

by Haley Paul
Published on March 28th, 2011

 

The perfect seedling starter kit could already be in your pantry. (Stock Photo)

With the bulk of the short and cold days behind us, it’s time to devote some extra effort to those empty flowerbeds and frostbitten potted plants. Whether you dabble with indoor plants or have a full-fledged outdoor garden and landscape, here are seven (re)uses for everyday items to give your garden a much-needed boost.

1. Create a (good) greenhouse effect

The plastic bag surrounding the lemonade container creates a greenhouse effect that helps retain moisture and warmth to germinate seeds more quickly.

Plastic lemonade containers are recyclable, but why not reuse them first? Create a mini-greenhouse to promote germination of seedlings so you can be ready to transfer them outside when the weather is right.

You will need a cleaned out powdered lemonade container and a plastic bag.

How to do it:

1. Widen out the container by cutting off any narrow portions at the top.

2. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the container for drainage. Place soil in the container and water lightly.

3. Place your finger in the soil to create a small divot where you will plant the seeds. Make the divots an inch apart. Plant one seed in each of the divots.

4. Wrap the container with a plastic bag and use rubber bands to create a seal. Do not cover the bottom with the plastic bag. Place the mini-greenhouse by a window so light can infiltrate and warm the soil.

5. Check soil moisture every few days and water accordingly. Reseal plastic bag after watering. To watch the progress of your seedlings, use a transparent plastic bag like those used for bread.

2. Egg carton seedling starter

Instead of buying plastic containers to grow starts, egg cartons are a great alternative.

Hate to throw out that foam egg carton? The small size and shallow depression make egg cartons (both foam and paper) perfect for planting seeds for eventual transplantation.

If you have a space indoors for the seeds to germinate, or a south-facing patio that gets enough early-spring warmth, the egg carton method is for you.

How to do it:

1. With a half-dozen or dozen carton, cut off the lid portion of the carton.

2. Puncture small holes in the bottom of each depression (where each individual egg once rested).

3. Evenly fill entire carton with soil. Place one seed per egg depression/section. Gently water entire carton (be careful not to wash the seed out).

4. If growing and watering indoors, place egg carton lid underneath the planted section of the carton to act as a water catchment device. Once seedlings reach optimal growth for transplantation, gently pop out each start from its section, keeping soil and delicate root ball in tact. Place in outdoor garden or in larger pot if container gardening.

3. Milk jug shovel

After cutting the milk jug in half, a shovel emerges. Use the remaining portion as a planter (remember to puncture some holes) or as a scoop (sans handle).

To give you precision when placing soil in pots, and to prevent a total mess indoors, small, easy-to-control shovels are a welcome addition to any gardening operation.

To make your own shovel from recycled materials, save those milk jugs!

How to do it:

1. Cut off the top portion of the milk jug (the spout). Depending on the amount of shoveling you need to do, both half-gallon and gallon jugs will work.

2. About 1-2 inches underneath the handle, draw a line around the entire milk jug. Puncture the plastic jug so you can cut along the drawn line.

3. Cut along drawn line, and then get to work shoveling!

5. Stylish cinder blocks

Here, an aloe is planted in a cinder block. Mint is also a good candidate for cinder block planting because it can get out of control and become a weed problem if planted in the ground.

Too few cinder blocks to complete an entire project but enough that they are taking up space in the shed? Wondering what you could do with the extra blocks? Make planters out of them!

How to do it:

1. Turn cinder block to its upright position. Place block in desired spot in garden/ landscape.

2. Fill hole(s) of cinder block with soil. Place herb plants, flowers, aloe, agave, or other desired plant in cinder block planter.

3. Water well to ensure soil is moist, and marvel at achievement!

6. Spice up old pots

If you are sick of the same old look for your potted terra cotta plants, add some flare with your favorite beer or soda bottle caps. Choosing a beverage at the store just got a whole lot more interesting!

With so many bottle cap varieties to choose from, the possibilities are endless for renovating old terra cotta pots.

How to do it:

1. Place a few small drops of super glue on the bottle cap.

2. Press bottle cap onto terra cotta pot for recommended length of time according to super glue package. Space bottle caps according to taste and number of bottle caps collected.

3. Repeat until lip of pot covered with desired amount of bottle caps.

Caption for picture (bottlecappot.jpg): With so many bottle cap varieties to choose from, the possibilities are endless for renovating old terra cotta pots.

4. Wine bottle hydro-plants

Many plants thrive when completely immersed in water. Here, a juvenile agave plant (left) and a common pothos plant (right).

Earth911.com has featured plenty of ways to reuse old beer and wine bottles. For your home garden, another way to reuse wine bottles is to make water planters out of them.

How to do it:

1. Rinse wine bottles and fill with water.

2. With scissors, cut at a portion of stem where there are few leaves (you might have to take off some leaves from the stem).

3. Put leafless portion of stem in water.

4. Watch beautiful roots begin to grow!

7. Temporary compost container

Still making excuses for not composting yet? Don’t blame the bad smell and lack of motivation to take out scraps every day. The solution is in your morning cup of joe.

We all know that coffee grounds are a welcome addition to the compost pile, but what about the empty coffee containers as a composting aid? Because most come with a snug-fitting plastic lid, these coffee containers are the perfect solution to temporarily storing your compost materials underneath the sink while reducing the smell.

Photos by Haley Paul

You may also like…
Composting in the City
Making Your Green Dreams a Reality: Organic Garden
A Garden in the City: Home Grow Micro Farms

Published in

Garden

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