Not all of us are prepared to begin gardening by tilling up our entire backyard and bringing in a huge crop.
And more than likely, some of us just do not have the space – or at least we don't think we do.
That's where recycling and gardening come together. Break out old soda pop bottles, your old broken teapot, or that stack of coffee cans you've been saving for a rainy day. It's time to get this garden party started.
3 small garden ideas
There are proven successful ways to get your garden growing, even if you don't have a lot of space or time for upkeep. However, you will STILL need to water your plants.
Maximize your vertical space. You can use small pots or bins to grow tomato plants, beans or other vine-specific vegetables or flowers. Using a wall, lean a recycled pallet, stick a branch or piece of bamboo into your pots or attach heavy-duty twine to an outside wall. Plant your seeds or your starters in some dirt and watch your plants climb!
You'll most likely need to guide any plants that are vines, making sure they are lightly attached with twine to keep them growing in the right direction.
Recycled pallet lettuce garden shown below.
This is a pretty easy solution, especially if you buy these already planted in a hanging basket. You can make your own by attaching chains, twine or wire to your own containers and hanging them from your ceiling or railing outside.
Fill your windows with herbs, small plants and flowers created for maximum sunlight exposure. This is great for saving space as well as being a do-it-yourself design tool.
You can use small pots or long, window-length containers and fill them with several kinds of plants.
One of my favorite upcycled container projects uses recycled tin cans. From tomatoes to herbs, I can plant quite a few things simply by using various sizes of cans.
What you'll need:
- A variety of recycled tin cans (however many you want to use)
- Potting soil
- Organic hummus
- Compost, if you have it
- Small gravel, enough for each container to have about ½ inch in the bottom
- Wire or twine
- Hole punch
- Seeds or seedlings
- Tray to set containers in to catch leakage
First and foremost, make sure your cans are really clean. I usually run mine through the dishwasher before repurposing them for anything else.
Take the hole puncher and make about five holes in the bottom of larger cans and about three in the smaller ones. Drainage is very important.
If you plan on making these hanging containers, also punch three evenly-spaced holes about an inch from the tops of the cans.
*Note: The smaller the pot, the more you'll have to water. Smaller pots mean less room, which also means less soil for holding the much-needed water.
Make a soil blend with your potting soil, compost and hummus. This ensures a healthy, fertile place for you to grow your plants.
Next, layer in your gravel and then start scooping in your soil. On larger cans, leave about an inch at the top. On smaller cans, leave ½ inch to ¼ inch at the top depending on the depth of the can.
Don't pack the soil in too tight. Make sure you leave enough room to hold the water. You need to let the roots of your plant breathe.
And then, you're ready to plant!
If you are planting seeds, follow the instructions on your seed packet for depth and spacing.
If you are planting seedlings or starters, leave about 5 inches without soil and place the plants inside. Finish placing soil in the cans, packing it lightly around the stalk about a ½ inch above the roots.
Water your plants until a little runs out of the bottom.
If you are hanging your plants, wrap your wire or twine through the holes and lift up a foot or so off of the ground to make sure it will hold. No one wants a big can of dirt falling on their head!
Some other nifty ideas
You can paint your cans with fun colors, or wrap with felt or material. Try using a mosaic with fun, colored stones or glass to catch the sunlight. It's your garden – inside or out – so design it however you like.
Twinkle VanWinkle has more than 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and has appeared on Food Network's "The Best Of..." Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.
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