Posts tagged "growing"

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.)

What can I reuse or recycle to make a vertical garden/living wall?

Readers of my simple/DIY living blog The Really Good Life will already know that I’m trying to make more efficient use of the space in my garden this year – I’ve been making lots of planters and raised beds from scrap wood (including this weekend, a 3ftx3ft bed for square foot gardening from our old bathroom cupboard doors) and I’m also interested in vertical gardening – creating a living wall of salad, herbs and companion plants.

I’ve explored the various different types of wall planters/hangers that you can buy – from essentially shelves, to window boxes, fabric bags and complicated systems – but me being me, I would prefer to make them myself, ideally reusing and recycling stuff I already have stashed around the place.

Some lovely people have already made some suggestions – I’m going to try making upside down planters from squash bottles and a fancy living wall type system from an old pallet when I find a suitable one – but I thought I’d ask on here as well in case anyone else has any suggestions.

I realise we’ve already covered similar areas like this before but I think the wall-mounted aspect opens up some other options – and I’d love to hear them.

What have you used to make wall planters? Have you made a vertical garden or a living wall? Or have you made any hanging baskets from anything interesting?

What can I reuse or recycle to make seedling/plant labels?

It might still be February but our 2011 growing season is already off and running here.

In addition to the eight fruit trees John planted a couple of weeks ago, I planted out eight fruit bushes at the weekend and I started my first batch of cauliflower, greenhouse tomatoes and lettuce the weekend before last. Following a recommendation from The Cottage Smallholder, I’ve bought a heated propagator to give my other greenhouse crops – cucumbers, chillis, pepper & tomatoes – a warm start in life — I’m hoping that arrives in the post today so I can get started with them ASAP.

For the first few sowings, I can remember what is where — the lettuce are in the troughs & square pots, the tomatoes in the round ones, the caulis in the fibre ones – but in a few weeks, I won’t be able to remember where everything is. And outside, we’ll want to know next year (and the year after, and the year after that) which fruit trees & bushes are which variety.

In the past, I’ve used slices of drinks cans or plastic milk bottles as plant markers – and they work reasonably well if you remember to write on them using a permanent marker (which I didn’t do last year – lots of confusion mid-year). I also know other people who use ice lolly sticks (but there has been an unacceptable dearth of those consumed here in the last year) and the like. And some people buy white sticks to use as labels – buy? buy?! not I! ;)

Do you reuse or recycle any packaging or bits of “waste” to label your plants or seedlings? Do you have any suggestions for making long term labels – ones that’ll be weather-resistant for at least a few years?

(Photo by normanack)

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 squash or marrow leaves?

I always feel a bit silly asking for suggestions for vegetable/garden waste because the vast majority of the time, it just goes in the compost bin, job done — but sometimes I think it’s worth asking because what is a common place use/reuse to someone is completely mindblowing to the next (for example, the broccoli stalk issue).

I thought it would be worth asking about squash (above) and marrow/courgette/zucchini (below) leaves because our garden is full of them and some of them are massive – when they stop finally fruiting, that’s going to be a LOT of vegetable matter going in the compost bin. Obviously not the end of the world – they’ll make nice compost for next year and it’ll nicely balance out our browns in there – but still.

From what I’ve read, chickens aren’t so keen to eat them so they’re probably not good for them. What about other livestock? If it’s veggie livestock, the leaves will end up in the compost anyway, just serving another purpose first ;)

My next question was going to be “can we eat them?” but a bit of Googling has already answered that for me – yes, we can eat squash leaves but best stick to the tender new leaves & shoots of summer squash, else they’re a bit tough. They also need peeling too apparently. Anyone had any experience of cooking with them?

Any other reuses for them?