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Bits and Pieces...The reduce/reuse/recycle thread


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  • Bits and Pieces...The reduce/reuse/recycle thread

    Prompted by a post on the Loo Roll thread, I thought it would be good to have a thread completely thrown over to recycling and how to use 'stuff' that we would normally throw away for our gardening.

    No chat please, just good tips on reusing anything for gardening purposes.

    Even if you think it's obvious, someone else might not have thought about it so go for it in here.

    I'm going to start with loo roll tubes.

    I save them all year round, for sowing main peas and beans into. This means I get alot of them and have to store them somewhere.
    To minimise space, I flatten them, and fold in half and slide them into a non-flattened tube. You can get about 6 or 7 into one tube if you squish them in.

    Then, once they are out, I open them and make them into squares. Then, they can be put side by side in trays for sowing, rather than staying circular which wastes room on the tray!

    I also use them for module sized sowing, cut the tube into 3 or 4 inch deep sections, and these can be used for example, for pinches of onions for continuous spring onion sowings.

    Some people microwave them before sowing, for a few seconds, as this inhibits any mould growth, but I don't have a microwave so I can't! Any mould grown is harmless and soon goes once the tubes are planted out.

  • #2
    plastic milk bottles

    plastic milk bottles:

    - cut off bottom, remove lid, and insert top end into soil at the base of your thirsty plants, to water into. Send the water directly where it's needed: the roots

    - use the biggest ones (4 or 6 pint) as containers for stinky comfrey tea. Fill with leaves, top up with water and leave for a week or two. Then use a bit of the tea, and refill the container with more leaves.

    - the lids: collect and use as drainage crocks in your pots.

    - 1 and 2 pint milk bottles are great packaging if you're sending plants through the post. Pop the plants inside, put on the lid, wrap everything in brown paper, and post. Light and strong.

    - I've even rigged up a downpipe to my waterbutt made of pop bottles joined together. How tight am I ?
    Last edited by Two_Sheds; 29-03-2009, 07:40 AM.
    All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


    • #3
      plastic food bags

      I re-use bread bags and apple bags from the supermarket for wrapping my own bread in.
      The bags are stronger than the ones you buy on-the-roll, and I leave a pile of them in my shed for bringing veggies home in.
      All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


      • #4
        Egg Boxes

        cardboard egg boxes are good for:

        - chitting spuds in
        - sowing small seeds in (like peat pots)
        - put whole in the compost bin to create air pockets
        - reused by your friendly chicken-keeper for their eggs
        All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


        • #5

          I get a newspaper every day, so I generate a lot of waste.

          - shredded, it is used for guinea pig bedding
          - one sheet goes on the floor of the bird cage
          - then composted (it's best mixed with greens, not put on in big lumps)
          - scrumpled balls of newspaper make good air pockets in your compost bin
          - I wrap kitchen scraps in a sheet of newspaper before adding to compost: a good green/brown mix
          - one sheet of tabloid makes a good paper-pot for sweet peas etc (see pic)
          - a whole newspaper, wetted, makes a great mulch/weed suppressor (put a layer of soil on top to make it look neater)
          - shredded newspaper goes in my bean trenches to retain moisture at the roots
          Attached Files
          All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


          • #6
            plastic bottles that are a bit more rigid, the ones that fruit squash comes in can be cut to make a sort of scoop/trowel with a bit of careful scissor activity.
            Use the neck as the handle, remove the base and cut a "U" shape out to make a scoop - works for potting compost, animal feed pellets... all sorts. The Lidl hi-juice ones make particularly good scoops and the squash is nice too - no artificial sweetners

            Square plastic trays - the sort that supermarket mushrooms are packed in make ideal seed-trays, and also hold about 6 paper pots for passing on/selling seedlings.

            Old tyres are excellent for growing potatoes in - stack and add more compost as the spuds grow.

            Small plastic pop bottles make good cane-toppers (and won't blow away as readily as yogurt pots)
            Last edited by Twinkle; 29-03-2009, 09:02 AM.


            • #7
              Wherer would we be without the umbequitous pallet?

              Useful for all sorts of things like using them whole around a compost heap.

              The sky's the limit with what can be made with them from chicken coops to plant labels, raised beds to sheds,net supports to cold frames, broody huts to storage boxes..and on...and on.......and on etc
              My Majesty made for him a garden anew in order
              to present to him vegetables and all beautiful flowers.- Offerings of Thutmose III to Amon-Ra (1500 BCE)

              Diversify & prosper


              • #8
                Plastic 1000 litre storage containers can be plumbed into a shed downcomer and the water used for gardening purposes. Gather as many water butts as you can scrounge and you shouldn't need to resort to tap water (which is full of chlorean anyway) apart from filling your kettle!
                My Majesty made for him a garden anew in order
                to present to him vegetables and all beautiful flowers.- Offerings of Thutmose III to Amon-Ra (1500 BCE)

                Diversify & prosper


                • #9
                  Look out for old plastic clothes driers, fridge and freezer shelving, ideal to make cloches from - can then be covered in fleece or plastic or can be put flat on soil when planting out onion sets or seeds to stop the dreaded foxes/cats from digging everything up again.

                  Teabags, I use as a mulch, top side dries out the underside keeps the soil nice and damp and they rot down over the season to be dug in to the soil.

                  Another use for newspaper, especially in raised beds. To save watering in summer water your raised bed or area really well and lay down soaked newspaper, four sheets thick or thereabouts. Cover with grass cuttings. Again all rots down by the end of the season.

                  Newspaper again - lay in sheets on greenhouse staging under plant trays so there's a good edge all around. Sprinkle on the organic slug pellets to help protect your seedlings from absailing slugs.

                  Check out any containers you may have hanging around the house - currently have a damaged salad spinner acting as a pot, along with panetone tins (holes punched in bottom), ex-bokashi bins, old wastepaper baskets, a microwave steamer and a whicker umbrella stand all doing good service.

                  Broken china - use as a covering for the soil in pots.

                  Use anything tray like for plant saucers, ferrero roche containers very good for this as are old roasting tins, cat litter trays etc.

                  Save old biscuit tins for keeping anything edible rat proof in your shed.

                  Any discarded clothing made from natural fabrics can make good hanging basket liners, it rots down eventually and can be put on compost heap.

                  You now get offered cloth shopping bags from some shops, these are very useful for shed storage.

                  Plastic lidded containers - especially those that contained mealworms make excellent slug containers. Collect your slugs and other nasties throughout the day and keep them contained till you can get rid of them or feed them to the hens. I always keep a good few to hand so have somewhere to pop these unwanteds.

                  Look at anything around the house with a critical eye. I have just had to dismantle my dressmakers dummy and the stand with four arched legs will, planted upside down to make an excellent tomato pole. The bits of body - plastic - will go under my new rockery as ballast.

                  Keep any large container to stand out as rain collectors, currently have an old wheelbarrow, an upturned waterbutt stand, old dustbins and several buckets all out collecting water - all a good addition to that collected in the water butts.

                  Scaffolding poles, if you ever find these, they're great for holding down a fleece tunnel, cardboard or tarpaulin as well as acting as good garden poles.

                  Old tights make good plant ties, use wider bits for trees and cut into strips for smaller plants.

                  Clear plastic food containers can with holes punched in the top make good mini cloches. just balance a stone on top to stop it blowing away.

                  And as for cardboard what a star! best mulching material and weed suppressor there is for free. And any bits over make a good shed carpet in the winter, tramp all that mud in the shed and when it gets soggy put it on the compost heap and select a new piece of "carpet".

                  And keep all lidded yogurt and cream containers they make ideal freezer containers for your precious allotment produce.

                  Last edited by zazen999; 30-03-2009, 08:35 AM.


                  • #10
                    Hummous tubs

                    hummous tubs make good "cloches" for pots on windowsills - mini-propagators if you will.

                    they also go underneath the pot as a saucer

                    then I reuse them again for frozen one-person servings of pasta sauce etc
                    All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.


                    • #11
                      Grass clippings - Use these as a mulch on veggies especially spuds. Or put into the compost bin along with paper. Be careful though - if you have used a weed and feed product don't use the cuttings for about 8 weeks or so.


                      • #12
                        Vending machine cups.

                        I save them from work - take them home, rinse them and then using a soldering iron, make holes in the bottom. Can be used time and time again.

                        Cotton bud tubs.

                        Looked at one just yesterday and thought they'd make good mini propagators. The "tub" would obviously rot away with time (those made of card), but would still last a season for those plants that don't like to be disturbed.

                        Biscuit tins.

                        Good for keeping seeds in one place, dry and dark.

                        Bush/tree pruning.

                        I have to trim back the ash next to the house every couple of years - the long almost straight branches that I cut off are usually at least 6ft in length and make great substitutes for canes.

                        Takeaway boxes.

                        The big ones they deliver the takeaway to you if you have a lot of people round (or just a large amount of food). Provided no food has been spilled in them they make good trugs to carry your crops home in. They have handles on most.
                        A simple dude trying to grow veg.

                        BLOG UPDATED! 30/01/2012

                        Practise makes us a little better, it doesn't make us perfect.

                        What would Vedder do?


                        • #13
                          If you've had one of those plastic greenhouses wrecked, then you can use the poles and bits (the non broken bits anyway) to build things.. I've actually had two large walk in greenhouses wrecked (the first, i left up over winter, and was fine until a large fence ripped free (rotten wood) from the supports and slammed into it in a storm, the second was fine until it came down, when the plastic ripped. I gave up after that). This year i decided not to have a greenhouse, but used the tubes and so on to build two sets of staging which now stands outside the back door, and i can use to pot up stuff. I used lower upright supports for one, and higher upright supports for the other, so that the staging is staggered. Duct tape holds the two sets together. (Photo explains it far better!).

                          With the remains i built an arbor to go outside our bedroom window (we're in a flat). Not terribly pretty, but will be much better when i've put netting over and let sweetpeas scramble up it! Its strengthened with long canes and cable ties.

                          Hope that gives anyone who's gotten a wrecked greenhouse some ideas...

                          Last edited by kethry; 30-03-2009, 07:01 PM.


                          • #14
                            Am just back from a weekend in UK and having had a Thai take-away with friends on Friday night, managed to squeeze in a dozen plastic 6x4 take-away plastic containers, complete with lids. They are brilliant for pre-germinating seeds on wet kitchen roll.


                            • #15
                              from a post on here by 21again, about 2 litre plastic milk cartons, today we built a plant-rack for the polytunnel. Wood was some old batten or tile lath cut to fit through the handles.

                              If you cut around the carton just above the level of the label, you can also use the base as a plant pot.

                              Each line of "pots" lifts off for transplanting etc...

                              Last edited by Twinkle; 01-04-2009, 07:17 PM.


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