Recycling in the garden

Filed in Blog by on April 2, 2012 11 Comments
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Mrs Green's recycled juice barrell

Mrs Green's recycled juice barrell

Have you been enjoying the beautiful weather recently?

You might remember that Mr Green made a rather palatial chicken coop and run at the beginning of the year. When I mentioned in another post that we’d been burning an old hotel, one or two of you were pretty horrified at the thought of all that fantastic wood being burned.

Fortunately I had a plan up my sleeve for some of the best pieces; another practical project for our resident Robinson Crusoe to get stuck into no less.

But I had to play it right and wait for the perfect timing to ask…

Well the time has come; near Mediterranean weather has been gracing us with its presence, inspiring Mr Green to rise to the challenge I’ve set him with vigour and enthusiasm. Ok, with procrastination and giving in to a few bribes…

I won’t spoil the surprise just yet, but you’ll understand my excitement when I reveal just how he’s been putting those gash pieces of wood to good use!

Talking of gash wood; I’ve been doing my own, more leisurely pottering around the garden and I’ve realised just how easy it is to reuse and recycle to your heart’s content:

Juice barrels

We have four rain barrels here at Zero Waste Towers and all of them are recycled juice barrels. These hold ‘concentrated’ juices which are delivered to companies who add water, then sell in Tetra Pak containers. While I have a full rain harvesting system like the ones from Enerfina on my ‘one day’ list, I’ll just have to make do with my recycled juice barrels for now.

Toilet Roll inners

One of our more popular videos goes back a few years and shows Little Miss Green and I enjoying a Blue Peter moment with some cardboard toilet roll inners. We use these to make biodegradable pots as they’re brilliant for plants that don’t like to have their roots disturbed.

Plastic bottles

We don’t buy many clear plastic bottles any more as I’ve given up my bottled water habit, but we still use the opaque plastic milk jugs. We can recycle these locally, but remember – it’s all about REDUCE and REUSE before you resort to recycling. We use these in the garden as mini cloches; cut off the top and invert them over tender seedlings if a frost threatens.

Yogurt pots

Yogurt pots are pretty difficult to recycle, especially now that one of my favourite brands has switched from PET to PP. Fortunately there are some great reuse ideas for them in the garden. As well as making fantastic seedling pots, you can cut the yogurt pots into strips, write on them and use to labels rows of seeds.

What about you? I know you’re all terribly creative; what items do you recycle in your garden?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. sooz says:

    We string up unusable CDs (the scratched ones that skip or free ones that get posted through the door!) and tie the tape from inside an old video onto gaden canes to scare away the birds from our veggie patch!

  2. CarSue says:

    I use egg cartons to start seeds. I also have a lovely watering can I made from an iced tea jug by drilling small holes in the lid and an air release hole in the top of the handle. Tin cans make lovely scoops for potting soil. Beer bottles with just a swallow or so left in the bottom are great slug traps. Hair collected from the dog brush is tucked amongst veggie plants to scare off critters. We lay out pizza boxes to kill patches of weeds, grass, ect. as needed, and also used several layers of them to line the bottoms of our raised beds to keep out weeds.

  3. Jane says:

    We have been cutting the tops off plastic milk bottles and using the bottom parts as small flower pots. Holes can easily be made in the bottom with skewers. We also use fruit punnets as seed trays. We have some mushroom punnets which we are using to stand flower pots in on our window ledges indoors. Some of our plants are tied to canes with old boot laces. We have just acquired a good supply of old bubble wrap that someone else no longer needs and are using that to protect our plants from frost and cold at night. We have been collecting old drink cans, and will be putting small amounts of beer in the bottom of these to collect slugs and snails. Also, we have a couple of old wooden boxes that we have converted to bird nesting boxes.

  4. Diana says:

    A previous tenant left behind a clear plastic storage box but not the lid. This spring I decided to try inverting it and using it as a small cold frame. It’s working out brilliantly!

  5. Way to reuse! This year a friend gave me those wasteful one dose coffee containers. They worked pretty well. I intend to use them again next year as well.

  6. [email protected] says:

    I have bought on eof those paper potters and so are making newspaper pots for my seedlings. That way I save alot of money from buying pots.

  7. Jane says:

    This weekend, we needed to label some seedlings, so I cut a couple of plastic milk bottles into strips to use as labels. I found that I can write on them with a marker pen.

  8. i should follow jane’s example and cut plastic bottles to make garden markers, so that i could find what is planted where as people share perennials etc with me.

    cut discarded pantyhose in strips to tie my future tomato and raspberry plants in comfort..
    cut tops off the onion and citrus mesh bags to suspend cantaloupes and cucumbers on a fence..above other lettuces, carrots and radishes..
    cut juice and coffee cans on both ends to sink an inch into ground around my celery or romaine to ‘blanch’ to crispy tenderness.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @sooz: I’ve seen people using those in our local allotment; I love how they look pretty when they catch the sunlight too – like rainbows!

    @CarSue: I never knew dog hair would see off critters! I thought you were going to say the birds too it for nesting material 🙂

    @Jane: Sounds like you have lots of great ideas going on there. Love the old boot laces idea 🙂

    @Diana: Excellent Diana. I need a cold frame too; will have to scout around the garden and see what I can find 😉

    @Jennifer Ward-Pelar: A one dose coffee container; I have NO idea what that is – sounds horrendous! Glad you put it to good use though…

    @[email protected]: How lovely! I used to covet one of those. Now I just use toilet roll inners for seedlings 😉

    @nadine sellers: You’re so full of good advice as ever, Nadine. I bet those cantaloupes look pretty in their coloured nets …

  10. Jane says:

    An old Venetian blind makes lots and lots of plant markers.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: WOw! Yes;perfect and enough to last a lifetime I should think.

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