Gardeners already know all about recycling – how old life gives way to and nourishes new life, but making the most of everything we use has never been so important as it is now. Here are a just a few tips for recycling household items in your garden. Once you start, though, you’ll see others every day.
If you’re planning to germinate seeds, a simple egg box is one of the best places to do it. Choose the cardboard ones, which are about as close to peat pots as you can get for free. Another advantage of cardboard egg-boxes is that you don’t have to remove the plant when repotting. Simply cut the single egg holder off and replant it whole – the cardboard will break down naturally.
If you’ve got egg-boxes, you’ve probably got some eggshells, and these can also be used to germinate seeds. Just crack your egg in half and make a hole in the bottom of the empty shell for drainage.
Toilet roll holders can also be cut to size and used to germinate plants, but you’ll need to take a little care not to spill the soil from the bottom when repotting.
For larger cuttings or seeds, hold on to yoghurt pots, punch a few holes in the bottom and off you go.
These are just a few ideas, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for suitable containers. The square plastic trays that they sell vegetables or prepared meals in can also be repurposed into tiny greenhouses, with their transparent lids retaining heat and moisture.
Larger plastic water bottles can be easily cut to size for pots, and these can then be hidden in more attractive containers.
Supermarkets such as Lidl are a great place to find strong, shallow cardboard boxes that can be lined with an old plastic bag and used as trays for these containers.
Punch tiny holes in the lid of a 50 cl water bottle with an awl or a compass needle, fill it with water and you have an ideal watering can for smaller plants.
Gardeners love spray bottles for misting plants, and the ones that are used for window cleaner or other cleaning solutions can also be used for plants. Just make sure you give them a good long soak in water and vinegar, give a few squirts to clean the nozzle out and you’re good to go.
Any spare, reasonably clean water from your kitchen, such as water you’ve boiled vegetables or rinsed clothes in, will be gratefully received by plants. If you have a fishtank, regular water changes will supply you with some fantastic, nutrient rich water for houseplants.
The classic way of recycling our food into plant food is, of course, composting, and serious gardeners with a bit of space to do this should not hesitate to do so. However, composting is not as simple as just chucking all your potato peelings into a bucket. It’s an art that can take several months of practice to get right, and Lanzarote, where you’re more likely to see a camel than a worm, offers its own challenges.
The ultimate recycling trick is using your own pee in the garden. It’s a fantastic source of potassium and nitrogen, but it should be diluted in at least ten times as much water before you water plants with it. Urine is sterile, so it’s not going to do you any harm, but you may want to stick to watering around the stem if you’re planning to eat the leaves of herbs or vegetables.
If you’ve got greenfly, don’t tip that soapy washing up water down the drain – instead spray the affected plants with it. Greenfly don’t like it one little bit.
Small pieces of orange peel and banana skin can also deter insects, as well as cats, but you should bury it slightly to stop unpleasant odours.
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