Got green fingers but want to make them greener? Worried about the use of plastics and your impact on the environment? Here’s a host of upcycling tips for in and around the garden. Recycle, re-use, rejoice!
Prized by many for their rough planked wood, you can use old pallets to create a variety of garden structures, ranging from compost bins to potting tables. You’ll often find that your local garden centre is a rich resource, ready for plundering.
Obviously, ask before you take, and be aware that not all pallets are fair game: the blue ones tend to be the property of CHEP, the worldwide pallet hire firm who won’t take kindly to your carpentry endeavours. We’ve seen some fine creations made from old pallets – coffee tables, elaborate garden chairs, the lot. Our skill set doesn’t quite stretch to such grand creations, but we’re willing to wager that we could make a half decent pallet out of an expensive coffee table…
No, not pants – we are talking about the wooden ones that slide in and out of chests. Knock the bottom out of old ones to make mini raised beds. We’ve used this technique to house our hop plants as a way of protecting them from some overzealous strimming. Alternatively, keep the bottoms intact and use them as moveable planters.
Save your chipped mugs and cups and turn them into neat bird feeders to help see your feathered friends through the cold winter months. Melt suet in a bowl, add nuts and seeds and pour into your chosen vessel. Shove a stick into the mug at the opposite end to the handle to make a perch and place in the fridge to chill. Dangle the mug by its handle from a branch of your favourite tree and watch them flock.
Screw the lids of old jam jars to the underside of your shed shelves, fill the jar and screw it back onto the lid and you’ve got yourself a handy water-tight container for storing seeds. Although, don’t forget to keep a few recycled jars for your own adventures in chutney, like this tasty beetroot chutneywe make.
Remember these? Suspend the defunct, optical storage systems from your bean canes with twine and their iridescent, reflective qualities will reflect shimmering sunlight over your prized veg and scare away predatory birds. Remember: allotment cred must be maintained at all times, which means that discs such as ‘Windows for Complete Beginners’ or that old collection of ‘Panpipe Moods’ should be avoided.
Old car tyres
Fill them with soil to use as raised beds, or simply use them to circle and protect emerging crops such as cabbage and lettuce. Squash look particularly good sprouting out from the confines of a tyre, and it’ll help you target their roots during watering. Most councils and allotment associations don’t take too kindly to their tenants bringing perceived rubbish onto their land, so save this for your own home patch.
Cardboard: Rolls, flat boxes, egg boxes
Cut cardboard wrapping paper tubes, toilet rolls and paper towel rolls into chunks approximately 60/70mm length and use them to plant seeds instead of plastic cell trays.
For the perfect receptacle in which to house your chitting potatoes, enlist spent egg boxes. Sit a spud into each egg compartment and place the box on your shed window. Sit back and watch them chit.
Use flattened cardboard boxes as a weed suppressant. Place them around a newly planted tree or plant and give it a good soak. Remember to weigh the cardboard down with stones to prevent the lot from blowing away in the wind.
Clean the insides, peel off the label and you’ve got yourself a ready made, rustic planter. Try getting hold of those large olive oil cans for larger plants, and don’t forget to punch a few holes in the base to allow for drainage. The cans will eventually go rusty, but this only adds to the charm. Some folks pay a fortune for rusty corten steel…
Save your plastic bottles and turn them into efficient watering devices. When growing squashes, it’s important to water them well during the growing season, making sure you target the roots.
Poke a bamboo cane into the ground next to each newly planted squash, cut the base off of a 1 litre plastic bottle and slide it down over the cane, pushing the neck end into the soil. When watering, water into the upturned bottle and you’ll be sure to reach the roots. Easy!
Have you ever recycled any other household objects for your garden? Let us know in the comments.