Gardening is the best antidote for stress and boredom. It works like a magic-potion. But it can prove to be heavy on pocket especially if you are a newbie green thumb as you will need to buy seeds, pots, fertilizers, insecticide, tools and what not! An easy and economical solution would be to start building your own garden by recycling household trash and using them for gardening purposes.
To begin with, here a few common worn out house items that can be recycled as excellent planters:
- Old fish aquarium
- Old bathtub
- Old wicker chair
- Worn boots
- Food cans
- Coffee mugs
- Paper cups
- Old tea pots
- Toilet pots
You can use small containers like coffee mugs and cans for starter plants in the spring and place them in your kitchen or drawing room to give a vibrant and dynamic look to the area. Not only planters but important gardening tools can also be found in your kitchen collection. From everyday used cutleries to aluminum foils and from egg shells to coffee grounds, all can be used to give your backyard an awesome and cost-effective makeover. This way you can have everything needed to set up and maintain your own garden without spending an extra penny. Read through to know how your old household items can be used in the garden.
NOTE: You can also buy planters online from our garden store – for delivery anywhere in India.
If you thought that the versatile silver foil was restricted to kitchen use, then you are in for a surprise. It can do all your hard work while you repose. Below are a few of many purposes that aluminum foil solves:
- Scare birds away: Birds are scared of shiny things. Dangling aluminum foils from your fruit tree will ward off the birds and prevent them from having fruits of your labor
- Repel the invading insect population: Mix strips of reflective aluminum foil in garden mulch to keep insects from spoiling your veggie garden
- Deter pets and other animals: Hang strips of used foil on strings around the garden to deter birds, deer and other unwanted pets, too.
Make a small hole at the bottom of crates for water drainage. Fill them with soil and plant your seeds in them. Now all you need to do is wait till the seeds sprout and then you can cut the individual crates and bury them in the soil. If you have used a cardboard egg carton, you need not worry about removing the crates as they will biodegrade with time. But if used plastic egg carton, you would want to remove the crates before burying the seedling. Besides egg cartons, you may also use toilet paper rolls or aluminum foil rolls.
Crushed egg shells act as a vital calcium source for plants. Rinse the egg shells after use and allow them to dry before you add them to soil. You may use a coffee bean grinder to crush the shells into fine dust. Larger shell pieces can be used to keep snails and slugs away.
Used tea leaves are excellent fertilizers. Tea leaves are rich in minerals and brewing extracts only a little percentage of these rich resources. Instead of throwing them away after use, sprinkle them around acid loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc. and enjoy your cup of tea while you watch your plants grow.
Take a pair of kitchen tongs outside with you when it’s time to trim back any prickly vines, limbs, or rosebushes. The tongs will allow you to hold or bend the branch painlessly while you snip with the other hand.
Table utensils such as spoons, forks and knives are tough and sharp enough to do many gardening jobs without causing damage. They can used to lift seedlings, make path for tiny seeds and mixing soil. Apart from cutleries you may also use the back of an old tooth brush.
Wine Bottle/ Kettles for Decor
Garden is the best place to relax so you must make sure it looks lively. Borrow a glass cutter from your neighbor and turn your used wine bottles into beautiful wind chimes to dangle them in your backyard. Building a little water fountain in corner will also be a good idea. Place old kettles or clay pots over each other, or use an old musical instrument such as a tuba may come handy in building a water fountain.
Coffee grounds are an excellent source of organic matter. They are approximately 1.45% nitrogen. They also contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals. Sprinkle the beans at the bottom of any plant to improve drainage in clay soils. It will be a feast for plants that like rich and moist organic soil like azaleas and blueberries.
Few people know that soap has wide utility in garden maintenance as well. Its insecticidal properties make it an ideal weapon to knock off the little marauders like mites, aphids, white flies and immature leafhoppers etc. But note that insecticidal soaps are not the same as dish soap or liquid laundry soaps. They are potassium salts of fatty acids and their purity and concentration is controlled. A simplest insecticidal soap is nothing more than a 2% soap solution. To make it at home, you will need –
- Sprayer – Any clean spray bottle or garden sprayer will work fine for spraying insecticidal soap. Make sure the sprayer or bottle hasn’t been used for herbicides
- Pure Soap – You need liquid soap, such as pure castile liquid soap, that does not contain additives (like fragrance, moisturizer and other additional chemicals)
- Water – Tap water is fine for making insecticidal soap. If you have hard water, you may want to use bottled water to prevent soap scum from building up on your plants
To prepare 2% soap solution, mix 1 heavy tablespoon of soap to 1 quart of water or 4 to 5 tablespoons of soap to 1 gallon of water. Coat the soap solution to the infected parts from top to bottom. Understand that in order to be effective, the soap solution should be in direct contact with the insects.
Note- Sometimes plants may react negatively with the soap solution. To make sure that the soap solution suits your plants, test it over a few leaves and observe for 24 hours. If you see any signs of spotting, withering or browning of the leaves, do not use that soap solution.
There are a few additional ingredients that may be added to the soap solution to solve the purpose. Adding two tablespoons (per gallon water) of light cooking oil helps the soap solution to stick to the plant little longer. Chewing insects can be kept away by using a teaspoon of ground red pepper and/or garlic (per gallon of water).
Below are a few other ways in which green thumbs may find soap solution handy:
- Remove light blocking dust that settles on the leaf surface by wiping the leaves with soap solution. This is particularly important in winters when plants struggle to get sunlight
- Soap is a natural surfactant. Spraying soap solution breaks surface tension and penetrates water deeper
- Swiping a bar of soap over saw blade will lubricate the saw and make wood cutting easier
- Hanging a broken piece of soap bar from trees and plants will repel dears.
Mulched newspapers are excellent to control weed growth. They retain moisture and add carbon-based organic matter the soil as they decompose. You can use newspaper mulch in the vegetable garden, shrub beds, on perennial borders and walkways. Pretty much anywhere where weeds grow, which, of course, is everywhere.
At the beginning of the season, spread newspaper 6 to 10 sheets thick over the area. You may find it helpful to either wet the newspaper first so that the water keeps the paper from blowing over to the neighbors or wicking moisture from the soil. The newspaper can be then covered with more attractive organic mulch like shredded bark, compost, mushroom soil, chopped leaves, straw, hay or grass clippings. For areas with existing plants, you may also mulch thin newspaper strips 2-3 inches from the trunk or crown of the plant
Apart from these, coffee mugs and cans with perforated tops can serve as watering cans for plants. You can also make a birdbath out of a light shade plastic or glass container.
So be innovative and flex your creative muscles while you make useful and decorative garden accessories from old household items that have run their course.