Waste not, want not – the frugal gardener’s mantra.
Image source: Ondacaracola

Savvy gardeners are frugal gardeners for whom “waste” is a dirty word. Here we present some top tips from growers with a passion for repurposing, reusing, and recycling – ways to save money and the environment while helping your garden grow.

Repurpose

tyre-with-grass

Old tyres make excellent planters, but make sure any chemical content doesn’t leach into the soil. Avoid use for food.
Image source: Praiwun Thungsarn

“Stand away from the skip. I repeat, stand away from the skip!” Pete of Weeds up to me knees’ daughter despaired of her dad’s embarrassing habit of examining the contents of every skip he happened to encounter. Pete says:

I’m always looking when I pass skips etc., as I have found some great stuff in them for use in the garden.

Pete adds: “I’m not as bad as I used to be.” Sure, Pete; if you say so…

Another modern-day womble, Sara from My Flower Patch collects mushroom and veg crates from her local pub. As well as offering a good excuse to pop in for a pint, she says she uses the crates to plant up her dalias: “I can get four or five tubers per blue crate and it uses much less compost and takes up less space than four or five individual pots.”

And then there’s Bill, author of Frodsham Marsh Bird Blog, who, tired of getting sore knees, found a novel solution The Borrowers would be proud of:

An old chair base also made the comfiest garden kneeler to put in some new plants!

Reuse

fabric-reusing-planting

Landscape fabric can be used over and over again if you take good care of it.
Image source: Vadym Zaitsev

If you’re growing through landscape fabric, never cut your holes, always burn them – or at least heat seal the edges, says Kev at the English Homestead: “Cauterising the cut stops the fabric unravelling meaning you can use it again year after year.” Kev says he gets a whopping ten seasons’ use from his.

Another gardener for whom the term “single use plastic” doesn’t compute, is Mal of Mal’s Edinburgh Allotment whose top tip, is as timely as it is ingenious:

Use rewritable tape to transform single use plastic labels into multiple use plastic labels.

Of course, not everyone keeps sheep, but even if you don’t, you’ll like this idea from Karen at the Square Sparrow smallholding in Scotland. She reuses sheeps wool to cover her herbs. As she says:

Sheepish Herbs Survive Winter’s Worst!

Not even the “Beast from the East” could pierce her tender plants snugly covering of sheep’s wool.

Recycle

planting seedlings in eggcups

Never throw away an egg carton – they make excellent seedling trays.
Image source: prachyaloyfar

With leafy ground-covering plants like strawberries, squashes and courgettes, it can be difficult to see where to water, but Belinda from Plot 7 Marsh Lane has a wonderful recycling solution. She cuts the tops off old Cola bottles, to make makeshift funnels which she presses into the ground next to the roots of her plants so the water always gets to where it’s needed.

Another gardener who’s nothing if not resourceful is Rachel of The good life ain’t easy, who germinates seeds in toilet roll tubes and egg cartons, and never one to waste plastic that could be recycled says:

I’ve found grape boxes make perfect reusable greenhouses.

And then there’s Alan of Alan’s Allotment who recycles nature’s bounty itself – specifically comfrey – which he says grows like wildfire and can be used as “compost activator, liquid fertilizer, mulch or side dressing, companion plant for trees and other perennials, and production of potting mixture.

What are your top garden recycling tips? We’d love to hear them. Just head on over to our Facebook page and leave us a message.

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