The Zero Waste Approach to Gardening – Repurpose and Reuse

This time of year my thoughts always turn to the garden. The sun is shining, the grass is growing (so are the weeds) and I’m eager to get my hands in the soil.

I’ll admit it, I’m a fair weather gardener, so I usually have my work cut out in the spring, as I’m not out there during the winter keeping an eye on things.

Gardening can be an expensive hobby, but the beauty of Zero Waste gardening is – with some simple creativity – you can reuse and repurpose items in your home and transform them into valuable materials for your garden. Here are some ideas for reuse:

CDs

It’s wonderful to see and hear birds and other friendly wildlife visiting your garden. However, it can be problematic when these animals start eating or destroying your fruit or vegetable garden. I’ve lost many of my crops to sparrows! If you have converted your music collection to mp3s and the charity shop or collectors aren’t interested in your CD collection, you can string them up around your garden. Because of their glossy and mirror-like surface, they can prevent birds from attacking your crops, but they don’t prevent them from visiting other areas of your garden.

Rain Gutters

Do you use square guttering for your home? If you have extra rain gutters you’re not using, they make brilliant and space saving planters. Trim the material to your preferred length, then mount it to a wall or fence. Gutters are ideal for cultivating small crops, with shallow roots, such as lettuce.

If you favour an indoor garden, you can use hooks to attach your gutters to a chalkboard in your kitchen, then use them to grow herbs for a year-round indoor herb garden.

Bricks

Construction waste is pretty difficult to get rid of and many people have bricks left over from small building projects, which you can readily get from sharing sites like Freecycle, if you don’t have any of your own. Worn red bricks make excellent garden edging, can be stacked irregularly to provide spaces for insects to hide, can be used to create raised beds, herb spirals, can outline a firepit or be stacked up with a grill on top for a barbecue; they have some many uses!

 

repurposing and recycling in the garden

 

 

Ice Cream Sticks

For people with kids who regularly enjoy ice cream, don’t throw away the wooden sticks. Clean them properly, dry them, and place them as labels for your flowers, crops, and plants. This technique is a perfect strategy to name seedlings, so you’ll have no problem identifying them when they grow. You can even urge your children to help write the name of the plants. Making activities like this ‘normal’ in your household, gives you a good chance of raising teenagers that also normalise this behaviour to their peers.

Old shoes and household items

One of the questions we get asked a lot on our Facebook group is what to do with old shoes. If you can’t get these mended by a cobbler, you can use them in the garden as quirky plant pots.  Make sure they have some drainage holes and let your imagination and creativity run wild. You can use any number of items in your garden for pots including old saucepans and even old sinks and baths! If you don’t have access to such things, you can give yogurt pots another use as seedling pots, before you finally recycle them.

Food Scraps

Food scraps such as peels and cores are valuable additions to the garden, by using them as ingredients for compost. Start gathering your food scraps in a compost bin (you can make one for free from old pallets), and in time you’ll have a lush homemade compost that can trounce any market-bought product. You’ll also need dry materials like shredded cardboard or paper, so composting really is a great way to make use of items you might otherwise throw away.

What about you? what items from your home do you reuse for gardening purposes?

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Rachelle Strauss

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