One of the pleasurable spin-offs in organic gardening is finding alternative ways of coming up with the same, if not better, end result…..

Household throwaways can be valuable to the alternate enthusiast. Here are ten recyclable ideas to make gardening a little less hard on the pocket!

1. Hedge clippings: Instead of burning or direct composting, beg, borrow, or even buy, if the quantity justifies the price, an electric garden muncher.

Branches up to an inch in diameter are posted into a slot and the machine munches them up into small chips. Spread these chips thickly around shrubs or fruit trees to help keep moisture in, and control the temperature of the soil.

2. 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.

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 from appearing. Spread over a whole patch and weigh down with stones or logs. Liftoff on a sunny day in early spring a few days before digging.

5. Yogurt pots: All plastic yogurt 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.

7. Ice Lolly sticks: Make perfect row markers in your seed trays or greenhouse beds. The wooden ones won’t last forever, but you can at least write on them with a pen, pencil or crayons!

8. Wire coat hangers: Make mini-cloches with discarded or broken wire coat hangers. Pull into a square shape. 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 seedbed to create two ends of a cloche. Now throw over a sheet of plastic and hold it down with logs or stones.

9. Clear plastic: 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.

10. Aluminum bottle tops: Keep aluminum tops from milk or juice bottles and also colored foil around beer or wine bottles. Thread together to make bird scarer. Simply thread with thick cotton and hang on your fruit bushes before the birds find the new fruits.

Look out for other tools for the garden 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 tools!

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