Use it again, Sam: recycling in the garden

22:24, May 13 2012

I'm a big fan of recycling for two reasons. One, I'm a cheapskate and getting two uses from a thing for the price of one thing gives me the warm fuzzies. Two, I like how recycling forces you to be a bit creative; I really love when a thing is used in a way that seems a universe away from how its creator intended it to be used.  

Here are some ways you too can be cheap and creative in the garden:

Cloches: why pay a bazillion dollars for a pretty bell jar from a Remuera design store when you can use a tupperware container turned upside down from the dump shop? I use clear plastic jugs, biscuit containers, vege crisper drawers from fridges and milk bottles with their bottoms cut out, with either bamboo stakes stuck through them to anchor them to the soil, or bricks on top to stop them from blowing away. But the most far-out cloche I've seen has to be this umbrella (right). Clever.

Bean frames: my pal Helen uses mattress springs as a frame for her runner beans, and this permaculture group created a spectacular bean frame from bicycle wheels.

Keeping cats and birds out of your garden: Upturned shelves from fridges and mesh drawers from office organiser thingies, with the obligatory brick on top protect seedlings and freshly turned ground from turning into a toilet/buffet. I have dozens of these babies.

Greenhouses: having a greenhouse would be perfect in my climate - protection from strong winds and deceptive springs. But I'm not sure I'm up for hours and hours of gluing plastic bottles together as these people have to make the walls of their wee house. At Great Start in Taita, where there's an amazing community garden, they started to put together a greenhouse made from recycled plastic bottles but estimated it would take them some years to make a greenhouse big enough for their needs. They used plastic panels from pokie machines instead. Bravo!


But if you think you'd like to give making one from plastic bottles a go, here's instructions from REAP Scotland

Containers: You can turn practically anything into a container for growing plants. I've seen washing machine drums, milk formula tins, gumboots, even a bra turned into a container. I've got some old colanders that I'm going to turn into hanging baskets for strawberries. But this garden made from beer kegs (below) takes container gardening to new depths. All you need to do to turn anything into a suitable container is drill holes in the bottom and use a container mix rather than garden soil. 

What's the most creative example of recycling you've come across? Any ideas to add to the list?

Follow me on Twitter.