Posts tagged "garden"

How can I reuse or recycle an old wrought iron gate?

Sticking in the garden after yesterday’s “how to make cloches” question, I’m a member of UKVegGardeners and spotted this question on the forum yesterday:

Anyone got any suggestions, please, on uses for an old wrought iron 3ft square garden gate which has reached the end of its gate life but must have some usefulness left?

Since UKVegGardeners is a community of, well, UK veg gardeners, the suggestions have mostly been about ways to use it in the growing of veg ;) People have suggested using it at the back of a trough for climbers or if you have two of them, making an A-frame for peas. (Someone else suggested a homemade BBQ grill for cooking “jumbo sausages” :) ) I think they’re great suggestions – but wondered if anyone else over here had other ideas to add.

I’ve seen iron gates that are no longer gate-able but still reasonably sound used to patch up fences in a shabby chic way – the spaces let small animals/wildlife nip through but not bigger things.

If it’s pretty wrought iron, I wonder if it could be used to make garden furniture… Depending on how heavy it is, it might be wall mountable and could be used as a hanging rack for tools, watering cans and whatnot.

Any other ideas?

What can I reuse or recycle to make garden cloches (row covers)?

I thought we’d already covered this but apparently not!

At the weekend, I made some 4ft by 1ft garden planters from scrap wood – having a lot of fun and saving myself a heap of money in the process. I think I’ll probably use them in our front garden – there are just a few scratty pots of herbs out there and planters like these (I may make a couple more) will make the currently dead space a lot more productive. Around here though, between the slugs & the dismal Yorkshire climate, things either need to be started as seedlings elsewhere or grown under row covers — cloches — for the first few weeks of their lives.

So what do you use for cloches? The tops of plastic bottles make great mini-cloches for individual plants – my dad uses the bottom of the bottles as seedling pots, the tops for seedling protectors when they’re planted out.

But what about for larger areas? I might want to grow stuff in rows and had an idea to make some “hoops” on a made-to-measure frame and cover that with either clear but heavy-ish plastic (for example, the chickens‘ feed bags) or opened out plastic pop bottles (although I’d probably need a lot of them to make it work). Any other ideas? And suggestions for the hoops? I can find scrap wood for the frame but would need some metal strips or plastic tubing, or the like for the hoops – any ideas?

As I’m aiming to minimise my workload – and minimise the waste going to landfill each year – I’d like to make them not only from post-consumer waste but also make them to last for as long as possible — so any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated!

How can I reuse or recycle old brooms, brushes & rakes?

Following on from last week’s plastic dustbins and Monday’s broken ironing boards, Philip also suggested

Brooms and rakes.

I don’t know why, but people often throw out orphaned handles and heads of various garden tools. I simply play match maker. You can’t have too many garden tools on a farm. Reconditioned tools also make great presents.

Philip’s idea is a great one – my father-not-in-law collects and matchmakes them too. I think nearly all our garden tools now are refurbished old ones.

We went through a phase a couple of years ago of having a lot of brushes (and mops) break at the bottom of the handle – so had some brush heads lying around. I thought I’d covered it on the site and someone had suggested using them to make a boot brush/scraper – but I can’t find that now so many I dreamt it — a good idea though!

I imagine an old rake could be used to make a en masse berry picker like this one by kooky chap Atomic Shrimp.

Any other reuses for old/broken brooms, brushes and rakes?

How can I reuse or recycle acorns?

It’s possibly getting a bit late in the year for this one but I kept forgetting to post it earlier in the autumn ;)

Our house backs onto woodland that includes a lot of oak trees. There are millions of acorns out there. Whenever we’re out on dog walks, we hear and see them them falling – oh, and feel them too when they hit us on the head! There are far too many to all germinate into oak trees – and I suspect even too many to be used by the local squirrel population.

I know some people use them for chicken food – a local, sustainable addition to their diet, but apparently one that can also tint the yolk slightly green (it tastes ok, just looks a bit funky).

We can also eat them too – for example, they’re commonly made into a coffee substitute but I like these falafel and ginger cake ideas. You have to pick the right type to avoid them being too bitter though – and they need peeling too, so it’s a bit fiddly but hey, free food!

What else can acorns be used for?

Perk up your garden with ash from Bonfire Night fires

Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night in the UK – also known as Bonfire Night. Up and down the country, people will be setting fire to stacks of wood and sending millions of £££s up in smoke in firework form, just getting a short “ooh” and “aah” (and occasionally “arrgh!!”) in return.

It’s not all waste-waste-waste though – tomorrow morning, you’ll probably have a substantial pile of ashes left over from your bonfire – and they’re great for the garden:

Ash can be a slug deterrent

The dry, rough surface of ash particles can act as a deterrent for slugs and snails. Chances are, you’re not growing much at the moment but you can scoop up the ash into a bucket, cover it/keep it somewhere dry so it doesn’t get wet over winter, then bring it out again for use next spring for use around your delicate seedlings.

It also has the advantage of being…

A word of warning
If your bonfire contained a lot of painted, varnished or chemically treated wood, or included plastic waste, don’t use it on your garden – the chemicals may contaminate your soil.

A soil neutraliser & fertiliser

Wood ash is alkaline so can help level out acid soils – some people dig it straight into their beds at this time of year so it will start to break down over winter while others cycle it through their compost bins first.

It’s also great for balancing “green”-heavy compost heaps (for example, those which contain a lot of fresh green garden matter, scraps or manure – things that are said to be “nitrogen rich”). Balanced compost heaps rot down quicker and produce better compost in the long run.

As well as a neutraliser, wood ash from bonfires is often also rich in calcium and potassium, so help fertilise the soil as well as neutralise it.