The secret of how to grow £875.52 from trash

Filed in Guest Posts by on October 14, 2010 2 Comments
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Lisa Ueda - the frugal gardener

Lisa Ueda - the frugal gardener

We all know that reduce and reuse come before recycling.

In our guest post today, Lisa Ueda, who gardens in central Wisconsin and blogs at The Frugal Garden, tells us how she has grown £875.52 from trash!

Lisa’s passion is helping people who are discovering the magic of plants learn about themselves in the process. She is the proud mother of two children, and one very content puppy.
Let me tell you about where I live. It’s lovely and flat, and has average winter lows of -37.2 oC for at least half of the winter. Long and bitterly cold, it almost makes you want to move, doesn’t it?

Gardening for free

Like most new homeowners, I didn’t have a lot of money for landscaping when I first moved into my home. Fortunately, I’ve learned the secret of gardening with garbage. For free. By gathering materials in the fall, I’m set to sow plants in the winter and plant out in late spring.


My family and I average two gallons of milk weekly. Although my city has a fantastic mixed recycling program, that’s not where my plastic milk jugs go. Many garden plants rely on exposure to cold to sprout, and others that can at least handle some cold. By utilizing these milk jugs, I’m able to fashion miniature greenhouses to grow my plants.

Here’s how:

Thoroughly wash your jugs with warm soapy water. Approximately four inches up the side of the jug, cut horizontally around the milk jug, leaving a portion uncut as a hinge.

Carefully pierce the bottom of the jug in several places for drainage.

Free soil

Many homeowners with leftover bags of soil are happy to get rid of them during fall. By placing ads on my local Freecycle group, I’m able to find soil for free.

Next …

I pour all of my soil into a clean plastic bin and add water until it’s moist but not dripping wet.

Fill your prepared milk jugs with your pre-moistened soil and add seeds.
Tape your jug shut. A single piece of duct tape placed vertically over one of the cut sides is enough.
Place outside between mid-December and mid-March leaving exposed to the elements until spring when they begin to warm up and sprout.

Lisa's milk containers used for gardening

Lisa's milk containers used for gardening

Huge savings

For fun, I calculated the cost of what I grew this year would have been had I purchased them at full price from a reputable nursery.

Basil *9 (plants)


Sage *8


Thyme *8


Cardinal Flowers *4


Dill *8


Delphiniums *12


Sweet Peas *30


Marigolds *25


Spearmint *4


Heuchera *20


Lettuce *8


Cilantro *10


Sedum *10


Daylily *1


Chinese Forget-me-nots *30


Portulaca *40


Snapdragons *6


Breadseed Poppies *20


Shirley Poppies *10


Squash *3


Jewel of Opar *15


TOTAL $1348.35  / £875.52

Native planting

If you want to learn more about how to grow plants from garbage, you can visit Wintersown for full details. Focusing on the plants list for your area will help ensure a great garden season.

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 (2)

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  1. Kim says:

    Mrs Green you’ve done it again – what a great idea you’re sharing with us!
    Its a great way to reuse the milk bottles and margarine tubs (that’s what I’m now planning to do).
    Many thanks!

  2. Mrs Green says:

    @Kim: Hi Kim, you’re welcome but none of this post can be credited to me – it’s all Lisa’s work and inspiration! Glad you enjoyed it so much 🙂

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