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Readers Respond: Tips for Recycling in the Garden

Responses: 233

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Thermokol box as seed beds

Thermokol (Polystyrene) package materials around refrigerators, TVs, etc are the best waterproof materials for seedling development and vegetable plot development. They are light weight and easy to move.
—Guest Dhanashri

Trellis Idea

I use a bunk-bed frame given me as as trellis for my pole beans and Malabar Spinach.
—Guest Rick

Reusing T-shirts for a different purpose

I reuse old t-shirts as plant ties etc. First I cut off the hem on the bottom. Then I cut a continuous strip about 1/2 inch wide until I reach the sleeves. Every so often I continue winding up what I have cut in a ball like you might yarn, making sure not to stretch it. Then I can cut the length off I need, when I need it. It is tidy and doesn't waste a bunch of the t-shirt.
—Guest Charlie

Recycling a Trampoline in the Garden

Years ago, when our children were young, we had a trampoline that we all enjoyed. When the trampoline wore out we dismantled it, collecting the springs that hooked the material to the side rail. They are strong springs around 4-6" with a hook on each side. I have a whole 5lb bucket full of them and have found them to be very versatile instruments in my garden: ie:, hooking a vining plant to the trellis behind it, hanging plants or extending the hooks I have, hanging hummingbird feeders, hooking to my greenhouse door to keep it open, etc. Their uses are unlimited. My kids make fun of me for keeping empty boxes, etc. but there are things you just can't throw out.
—HjordisO

Packing Paper Lines the Bottom of Bins

My compost bins often sit near mature trees whose vigorous roots work their way up into the luscious, nutritional piles. To prevent this, when building a new compost pile, I use the voluminous wads of brown butcher paper which were padding in our packages to line the base of the pile. They are spread flat, torn to size and doubled over. The multiple layers of paper will breakdown eventually, but remain a valuable barrier against root infiltration until I am turning, using or relocating that particular pile.
—Guest wakingdream

Recycling Food Scraps

I keep an old blender on my counter and fill it with veggie and fruit scraps and when it is full I fill with water, left over coffee, and blend until smooth. I then take it to the garden and pour it between the plants. Compost tea! No waiting for it to break down in the compost pile.
—Guest Judy

For the Birds

I save lint from dryer and put out for birds to put in their birdhouses and nests. Makes a soft bedding for the babies.
—Guest zelda

Seedling Pots

I save empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls. I cut the TP rolls in thirds, fill with potting soil and plant seeds. Then the whole thing gets planted when time. The paper decomposes and doesn't cost anything extra.
—bgcokeonut

Stacked Potatoes

Use 3 tires. Place a tire on worked soil. Within the ring of the tire fill with water. In the middle of the tire plant 3 to 5 seed potatoes. When the plants are a couple inches high cover with soil and plant 3-5 more seed potatoes. Place the second tire over the first. Add the water in the ring and wait for the plants to emerge again. Then copy the pattern with the third tire and planting. Water when needed. When the summer is over and it is time to harvest you remove the tires and you will have up to 50 gal. of potatoes setting on the ground to pick up. [Note from Marie: Although there is little research on what tires leech into the soil and modern tires are generally considered safe to use, they do degenerate over time. It's a good idea to replace them, after a few years.]
—Guest June Thornton

Mini Greenhouse for Seed Starting

Cut large milk jugs, 2 inches up from the bottom. Plant seeds, mist, and force the top back on. Remove the cap for ventilation, once sprouted.
—Guest Dyan

Lampshade Stakes

Old frames from lampshades, painted green, and sometimes with wire wrapped around, hold peonies, etc.
—Guest Dyan

Water the Roots

Recycle plastic milk bottles by cutting a hole in the bottom. Plant with your thirsty plants and water via the bottle, it'll go straight to the roots. If weather is very hot, put the cap (or a stone) over the hole you've cut, it'll prevent evaporation. Growth will soon disguise the bottle and when its plant dies back, it'll tell you where it is.
—Guest Lynne Teasdale

Composting Tips

I always sprinkle some lime to my composting. Keeps down the odor, if there is any, also it is good for the compost.
—janshoemake

Top Soil inRecycle Bin

I put a small amount of top soil or compose into my recycle bins occasionally. It provides additional microbials for speeding up the decomposition of plant materials and absorb some bad odor during the decomposition process.
—Guest Kam Fok

New life For Used Toothbrushes

I use old toothbrushes for cleaning up some dirty pots , saucers, or concrete blocks.
—Guest Kam Fok
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