Archive for the "garden" category

Book review: Garden Eco-Chic by Matthew Levesque

A few weeks ago, I was sent a couple of gardening books by Timber Press to review here and on The Really Good Life. This is the first one – Garden Eco-Chic by Matthew Levesque.

The subtitle of this book is “reusing found objects to create decks, paths, containers, lanterns and more”, so it’s quite clear why it fits a recycling site – it’s about reusing and recycling old stuff for a new purpose in the garden. Right up my street! I don’t usually like re-making inspiration books because they often focus on some very lucky finds for their key pieces and while that is the case with certain things in this book (the rusty gabions that crop up again and again, thirty 1970s light fixtures from a hotel, a stash of spectacle lenses), there is plenty of attention paid to easier to source things – piping, old sheets of metal, and scrap wood or stone – and where to get them.

It also included some useful sections on general skills – which tool to use for which job, how to cut difficult materials like polycarbonate sheets or steel, and advice on patinas & finishes to make newish wood or metal look more interesting.
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How can I reuse or recycle an old kids slide?

Sherri emailed to ask:

Any ideas on using an old kids slide in the veggie garden?

I like that she added the “in the veggie garden” bit because that’s nearly always where my mind goes first and I worry that I come off as a bit obsessed with growing in random recycled things! ;)

I’m presuming that the slide is made from formed plastic – as that seems to be the thing for garden slides these days – but the ladder section might be chunky plastic or more slender metal, depending on the size of the slide. Either way, they could be used to add height to a veg garden such as providing supports for climbers or for vertical gardening — propped up against a wall, chunky plastic ladders might be suitable for use as a ladder planter (ideal for small pots of herbs and/or salad leaves) or hanging baskets etc could be hooked onto a metal ladder with thin rungs.

Depending on the shape of the slide section, it might be suitable to use in a few different ways in a veg garden – if it’s flat (rather than wavy/bumpy or overly shaped at the top & bottom), it could be used as a water-catching trough underneath pots/containers or adapted into a potting bench type thing (the sides of the slide would stop surplus soil going all over the place … I’m a messy gardener with a soil shortage so this sort of thing would be very beneficial for me!).

Any other veg growing/gardening suggestions?

What about other ideas for reuses or recycling ideas for such a slide?

How can I reuse or recycle (or fix) a plastic patio table?

Karen has left us a message on the Suggest an Item page:

Our plastic patio table just broke. The leg snapped straight off. The legs are rounded on the bottom, so it would be hard to replace.

I saw the post about discolored patio furniture, but is there any way to fix/reuse the table? I will have to throw it away if not!

Without knowing why it snapped off, I’d be loathed to suggest putting a lot of time and effort into replacing it – in case the other legs immediately follow suit. If they are likely to jump on the snapping bandwagon, you could pre-empt that by replacing all of the legs now – it would also mean you wouldn’t have to think about making the new one match the old ones.

Any suggestions what could be reused to make replacement legs? My first thought – because we’re just had a load of ours repositioned/replaced – was something like plastic drainpipes — not the prettiest thing in the world but would be as light as the original legs.

The reuses probably depend on the table itself. I’ve been thinking about making a potting bench that would fold up against a wall when not in use – a plastic table top might be light enough that it could just be suspended on chains from the wall rather than needing legs etc, but it would have to be a square/rectangular table and not too big… Another growing idea might be to flip the table top upside down and use it as a giant saucer for under a set of plant pots to catch run off from watering. Here, we could also add it to the shelters/stuff for them to climb on in the chicken run – possibly fixing the legless part to a wall of the run enclosure.

Those are all very growing-and-chicken-owning me type ideas though – anyone got any more varied or otherwise interesting suggestions?

(Oh, and as I said about the discoloured patio furniture last time, most plastic patio furniture is PVC, which isn’t widely collected post-consumer so you might struggle to actually recycle it. People in the UK should probably check with their local council though, just in case they do collect it.)

How can I reuse or recycle sweetcorn plants?

Tina has asked a very timely question:

what can I use sweetcorn plants for?

I like to eat or use as much of my plants as possible, before composting the rest. There must be a million uses for corn plants, but can I find any? help!

We’ve already covered the empty cobs, after the lovely juicy kernels have been nibbled away. (Some suggestions: dip them in peanut butters or some solid-at-room-temperature oil and cover with seeds to make quick bird feeders. Dry them for use as kindling when starting fires. Give them to guinea pigs or chickens to nibble/play with.)

But what about the rest of the plants? Can the strong, tall stems be used for anything? The paper-y wrapping that protects the head? Any reuse options other than just composting it?

Would love to hear your ideas for this! :)

What can I reuse or recycle to make attractive garden edging?

Carmen from South Africa has sent an email asking:

What can I reuse/recycle to make attractive garden edging?

I’ve always been quite taken with the idea of wine bottles for garden edging (and an item on my long, long to-do list is to try making a raised bed on the same principle).

For a more rustic look, you should mimic the commercial bamboo edging using offcuts from local trees – sticks and branches about 2-5cm (1-2inches) in diameter that are too small to bother burning but too big for composting. If you want them all to stay in a neat line, you could nail them to a thin batten; else, just let the soil hold them in place.

I’ve seen some edging made from old ceramic tiles too but I’m not sure how they were supported – any ideas?

Any other suggestions?