“These 10 free gardening products will get you moving in the garden without dipping into your wallet”
Finding alternative ways of coming up with the same, if not better, end result is so satisfying and will also help keep your volume of recycling stuff down. Always a good thing!
Toilet rolls and kitchen towel rolls can be cut width-ways to make tiny bottomless pots for your seeds to germinate. Squash ‘pots’ into a tray and fill with seed compost. Although watering will slowly ruin the cardboard, it doesn’t matter! And when the seedlings are ready to plant out or pot on, the cardboard easily peels away from the soil. If you can guarantee the cardboard hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, the whole pot can be planted and the cardboard will eventually rot away on its own.
All food waste must be composted. Composting is becoming quite an art form, and special composting bins can be bought, or very simply made.
There are many different theories and each gardener will find his or her preferred way. Keeping the compost fairly warm is the overall key to a good result. Or, if you’re in no hurry, simply keep adding to a heap, and dig out the bottom when required. Sieve before using and the compost will be ready for planting small plants and even seeds. A nutritous gardening product!
3.Old carpets, large damaged cardboard boxes
and similar materials can be laid over the vegetable plot in autumn to help prevent those early spring weeds appearing. Spread over a whole patch and weigh down with stones or logs. Lift off on a sunny day in early spring a few days before digging.
Keep old roller painting trays and similar containers for seed trays. Punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Add a little fine gravel before filling with seed compost. Seed trays shouldn’t be deeper than 15cm. NB: Make sure all traces of paint have been washed from the trays before using.
All plastic yoghurt or dessert pots can be washed and saved for re-potting seedlings. Make a hole in the bottom of each and add a little fine gravel before filling with compost or soil.. pots can be expensive and recycled yoghurt pots are perfect free gardening products. Some manufacturers these days are on the ball and may be using biodegradeable pots instead of plastic – which is ideal because you can then re-plant the whole pot.
Glass jars with sealable lids are excellent for storing seeds, beans and peas for planting next season. (Safe from mice as well) After washing the jars, dry in the oven to remove all traces of moisture before storing your seeds. Collect dark glass jars, or wrap paper round clear jars to prevent seeds being damaged by light.
7.Lolly sticks and twigs
Lolly sticks make perfect row markers in your seed trays or greenhouse beds. The wooden ones won’t last for ever but you can at least write on them with pen, pencil or crayons. ( Free gardening products the kids can help recycle!)
Collect a few fallen twigs on a woodland walk if you can. They don’t need to be longer than 30cm but should be fairly straight. Then when you get home, give them a quick wash if needed. Make some flags by simply folding a small piece of paper and tying, sellotaping or sticking in anyway you can to one end of the twigs. Write your seeds name when you come to sow them!
8.Wire coat hangers
Make mini-cloches with discarded or broken wire coat hangers. Pull into a square shape. Please be careful when bending wire hangers – they can hurt! Place the hook in the soil and push down gently until the natural bend in the wire rests on top of the soil. Place another a short distance away in your seed bed to create two ends of a cloche. Now throw over a sheet of plastic and hold down with logs or stones.
Note: this will work only when creating very small cloches, but it’s still a free gardening product you can make from your wardrobe.
Although we’re all trying to reduce our plastic consumption, sometimes you find yourself with plastic packaging that can, perhaps, be used again. Keep any clear plastic containers that could be placed upside down over a plant. Cut a mineral water bottle in half to make two handy individual cloches. Large sheets of clear plastic from packaged household items are fine for throwing over mini coat hanger cloches. When using plastic in the garden, make sure it doesn’t start decomposing or shredding any bits of plastic in your soil.
10.Aluminium bottle tops and DVDs
Keep aluminium tops from milk or juice bottles, and also coloured foil around beer or wine bottles. Thread together to make a bird scarer. Simply thread with thick cotton and hang on your fruit bushes before the birds find the new fruits.
Old CDs and DVDs also make good bird scarers, threaded together on a rope. A large enough knot needs to be tied on either side of each disc to keep them in place.
Look out for other free gardening products from kitchen throwaways such as…
-Old kitchen spoons and forks for transplanting tiny plants in the greenhouse.
-Leaky buckets for harvesting small quantities of potatoes, carrots etc;
-Light wooden boxes for harvesting salads through the summer, and transporting pots etc;
Keep an eye on that rubbish bag and turn today’s throwaways into tomorrow’s free gardening products!
P.S. This handy download will be invaluable if you’re just starting out on your gardening journey. Feeding family and friends on organic fresh veggies is sublime!
Growing Everyday Vegetables
Growing Everyday Vegetables takes you step-by-step through the process of growing, harvesting and storing ten everyday vegetables:
Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Zucchini.
And, as an added bonus, there are recipe ideas for every vegetable, so if you have a glut, you can serve deliciously different recipes that the whole family will enjoy, without getting bored!
Choose from your favourite online bookstore: