Uses for empty plastic containers in your garden

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

HarvestingTubs1Plastic bottles to garden cloches: It all, obviously, depends on the size of the bottles but I, personally, use everything from 1 liter (over 3inch pots) to bigger ones – for seed raising. The large one gallon water bottles that, after events in parks and such, are so often tossed out, I use as cloches for bigger plants in the garden itself.

The standard PET bottles of one and even two liter, with their bottoms cut off, fit nicely into the rim of or just over the standard 3inch pots and leaving the top intact and thus removable gives a chance to, when needed, give to air to the mini-greenhouses thus created.

Milk jugs can also be used in the garden as cloches, and they even, as they are opaque, are better for the plants to some extent, as they prevent scorching.

Plastic buckets: The buckets that I am talking about here are those in which various products come for the catering trade, whether it be mayonnaise, oil, or marinated herrings. Most are about a gallon in size, some are bigger, some also smaller, and they make for great bucket garden planters but, obviously, as well can be used as buckets for any number of tasks in and around the garden, as many do have handles, some steel wire, some plastic.

Uses for empty plastic containers in your garden1I have seen several market gardens where all the produce is grown in such buckets and so why should we not make use of those rather than have them go for, if they do, recycling or, as is mostly the case, to landfill. A couple of good sized holes drilled into bottom and the sides around the bottom for drainage and ready you are.

While it is true that many of those containers can be recycled they are not in some areas, or not all, even if they are put into the recycling bins. Thus us finding ways of reusing them is the better option. It also saves us gardeners money.

Harvesting containers: Plastic milk jugs of the 4pt and 6pt size, with a section cut out but the handle left in place and intact, make for great little daily harvesting “buckets”. They also can be carriers for small hand tools for the gardener. If you would want to you could slide one or even two of those onto a belt and then be able to work hands-free.

Harvesting or deadheading tub: This is made from the bottom section of a 4pt plastic milk jug (British) and for a belt loop a length of plastic from another jug was riveted to it. Costs were just a little time and a couple of rivets. (see main photo).

Harder plastic bottles such as those from cleaning products can be made into soil scoops, funnels, and many other things useful in the garden (and also around the home).

Those, together with lotion bottles, also can be upcycled and converted into holsters, whether belt-worn or just as pocket protectors, for carrying the likes of secateurs (pruning shears), trowels, as well as sharpening stone(s) for scythe. But the uses are only limited by your imagination.

Personally I am always looking for new ways to repurpose and upcycle such container for use in the garden, around the home, etc., as in fact with much of the waste products that I come across. One just has to think laterally a great deal and sometimes get inspiration from homeware and gardening equipment catalogs. That is how the idea for the harvesting tub from plastic milk jugs came about.

The same I did with various upcycled milk jugs that are on my kitchen windowsill and hold all manner of things such as the dish brushes, etc. The idea came from plastic homeware items from a catalog. I don't buy if I can make it myself, is my motto, and thus such things can be rescued. Problem is only that there is only that many that you can actually reuse yourself, even if you make cloches for the plants in your garden. OK, I guess it depends on the size of your garden.

Waterers: PET and other plastic bottles can also be made into garden waterers, stuck into (spout down), or embedded in, the soil (bottom cut off for the former) and filled (and refilled) with water (as needed). Obviously the bottle needs some holes in it so the water can trickle out.

Whether in the home, the workshop, the garden, or even the home/office, there are reuse and upcycling possibilities for plastic bottles and other plastic containers galore and the possible uses would be enough to fill a book at least.

So, let's reduce the plastic waste that there is by making use of those items that come our way rather than even sending them for recycling. A bit like with glass jars that can be used for storage and such it means what you can reuse and upcycle you do not have to buy. A win-win situation for you and the Planet.

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