Ambling through a local nursery or home improvement center in search of basic garden staples, you might assume that in order to foot the bill, selling precious bodily fluids or becoming a medical guinea pig is a necessity. Chin up, green thumb wannabe! You can obtain a lush, veggie-riffic payload (without suffering the slings and arrows of invasive needles, probes and questionable pharmaceuticals) by imaginatively repurposing countless items that are already in your home. These tips are so eco-juicy that you’ll be reaping the good green (and antioxidant-rich) benefits for countless growing seasons to come!
BIODEGRADABLE SEED POTS
Sure, everyone and their uncle knows that recycled cardboard toilet paper cores, newspapers, egg cartons, eggshells and even hollowed out fruit and veggie skins can nurture seedlings successfully, but did you know that the paper sleeves insulating fancy frappucinos can also serve the same purpose?
Coaxing seedlings to emerge victorious can be as simple as creating a humid environment by covering each pot with a recycled plastic bag or creating sturdy, weather-resistant domes (also known as garden cloches) using recycled plastic juice containers.
Store bought versions – while uniform and orderly – make your garden look perfectly pedestrian, whereas vintage silverware, wooden chopsticks, vinyl mini blind slats, wine corks, yogurt containers and carefully ‘snipped’ sections of old compact discs elevate your greenery to eco-hip status.
Tears and holes in your pantyhose are bound to happen, but that doesn’t mean that your hosiery has met its final curtain call. Anytime you need to support climbing or fruit-laden plants (cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, etc.), stake them with strips of old panty hose without harming delicate stems – and yes, hole-ridden socks will also do in a pinch. Melon lovers, take note: In order to avoid insect infestation and/or ground rot, tuck newly formed fruit into one leg of your holey nylons before tying the whole ‘package’ to a strong stake. As the melon grows, the panty hose will expand accordingly while offering firm support.
While trimming the perimeter of your veggies and flowers isn’t exactly a necessity, it sure is fun when you use empty glass beer, wine, soda bottles or wooden log slices – and it can also be ever-so-stylish if you leap into vintage dishware, expertly woven tree branch or seashell terrain.
Acid-loving plants will go gaga for recycled tea bags and coffee grounds, botanicals that thrive in the presence of calcium-rich, alkaline conditions will benefit from recycled eggshells, and don’t forget to bury potassium-rich banana peels around the roots of rose bushes.
Who needs pricey Topsy-Turvey contraptions when you can make far more charming, home-spun versions using recycled gourds, denim jeans, metal coffee cans and PET soda bottles?
Have ever-changing outdoor temperatures done a number on your terracotta pots? The most obvious recycling solution is to break pots into shards for better drainage, but you’ll get more mileage by inverting worn-out or cracked vessels as botanical stands for indoor or container gardens.
NO-SWEAT HEIRLOOM PROPAGATION
Farmer’s market hounds may occasionally encounter positively scrumptious veggies that they’ve never seen or heard of before. Keep the edible glory alive – at least in the case of visibly seeded or rooted varieties – by plunking carefully excised sections directly in the ground.
HUMANE PEST DETERRENT
Recycled coffee grounds are filled with garden-boosting goodness – nitrogen loving hydrangeas turn a particularly pleasing shade of blue in the presence of spent java – but they also offer the extra added bonus of being naturally offensive to common veggie thieving critters, so lay it on thick. You can also scare pesky tomato-pecking birds away by hanging naturally reflective recycled compact discs around the perimeter of your garden.
Containers that are filled with typical household products such as laundry detergent and bleach can be transformed into handy DIY scoops just by wielding a pair of scissors.
Wash freshly-picked veggies directly over crops that are still firmly rooted in the ground so they benefit from the surplus hydration.
Shredded junk mail happens to be just as effective at preventing weeds from taking root as recycled newspaper, cardboard and the pages of old telephone books!
Empty teacups, hollowed out pumpkins, peanut butter-studded pinecones and recycled Method brand plastic soap containers all serve as equally effective bird feeding devices, although for a waste-free option, you might just hang single pieces of fresh fruit on trees and watch avian visitors peck them into oblivion.
Drill oodles of holes into the cap of an empty plastic laundry detergent bottle and – voila! – you have a mighty effective and easily totable portable hydration system for parched plants.
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