5 Household Items That Can Be Reused In the Garden

Landfills are filling up and prices on everything are escalating. You can do a few small things to help keep things out of the landfills and reduce your cost of gardening. You can save money and reduce landfill waste by taking some common household items and finding alternative uses for them. Here are several suggestions:

1. Empty egg cartons: Use your empty egg cartons as seed starting trays. While either the paper or Styrofoam cartons will work, the paper ones can be planted directly in the ground at transplant time. The Styrofoam cartons will need a hole for drainage and you’ll have to be careful removing your seedlings for transplanting. Eventually what’s left of the Styrofoam will still end up in a land fill but you’ll save some money over buying seed starting trays.

2. Vegetable scraps: This is one of the easiest things to do. Save your vegetable scraps for a compost pile or bin. Commercial compost bins are available in a variety of sizes. There are even bins designed for under the kitchen sink. Even if you only make a small amount of compost, your plants will love you for it.

3. Plastic containers: Save your empty yogurt, sour cream, Italian ice, and cottage cheese containers. These small containers make nice little pots to transplant seedlings that need some more room to grow before going into the ground. Punch some holes into the bottoms for drainage. Fill the container with soil and plant your seedlings or seeds. The lid may be used for drainage under the container. These can also be used as snail and slug traps. Cut a small section off the top of the container, put a little beer inside and cover. Bury the container so the opening you cut is at ground level. Snails and slugs will go in and drown.

4. Plastic bottles: Soda, juice, and mild bottles etc. have various uses after they’re empty. Plastic bottles can be turned into planters, self watering devices, funnels, mini greenhouses and many other things.

To make a planter cut the top of the bottle off down far enough so when you turn the top upside down you have the depth planter you want. Put a small piece of cloth into the neck to keep the soil from falling through. Place the top of the bottle upside down into the bottom. This will act as a stand and collect any water that runs through. Alternatively you can just cut the bottom off the depth you’d like and use that to plant in. Be sure to add some holes for drainage.

To make a mini greenhouse cut the bottom out of the bottle and place over small seedlings to protect them from sudden frosts. The cap can be removed to allow heat to escape during the day if it might get too warm.

To make a self watering device put a few small holes around the bottom of the bottle. Burry the bottle next to a plant and fill it with water as needed. The water will slowly leak out through the holes and water the plant at the roots.

5. Newspapers: Your old newspapers can be added to a compost pile or used as a weed blocker. Shred the paper before adding to the compost pile.

When preparing a garden bed place several layers of newspaper on the ground. Cut an X into the paper end fold it back. Put the plants in and fold the paper back in place around the plant. Cover the newspaper with mulch. You can also make paper pots out of newspaper to start plants. When transplanting place the entire paper pot into the ground. Avoid using color print especially if it is glossy like some magazines.

This is only the beginning. With a little imagination and thought you can find dozens of ways to reuse and recycle your household waste. Help the environment and your wallet through recycling.

Wayne Schaefer – Avid gardener for 15+ years. Experienced in vegetable and perennial gardening, landscaping and outdoor living. Visit my website at “The Garden Swap” at [http://www.thegardenswap.com].