This week, the nice people at nearby Recycle for Essex plugged my blog on their Facebook page. Being far too kind, they said some very generous things but moreover got me thinking about recycling on the allotment.
Allotments are brilliant places for witnessing incredibly resourceful ways of reusing stuff that would otherwise be heading for landfill. I’ve seen tyres with potatoes growing out of them, bathtubs collecting rainwater, and pallets made into all manner of things.
The Internet is also full of ideas on how to reuse unwanted items, and a quick Google will reveal some beautiful examples from really creative people.
But what about those of us who fail miserably when it comes to both imagination and practicality (yes, I’m talking about me…)? What can we do to reuse, reduce, recycle on our allotment plots, and save a few quid in the process?
Here are 9 common household objects that find themselves being reused very simply on my plot.
I use these for growing in modules. Cut in half or thirds, they’re particularly useful for seeds that are tricky to germinate, like parsnips.
Fill them with multipurpose compost, pop a couple of seeds on top and then sprinkle over some more compost, and once the seedlings get a few centimetres high you can plant the whole thing out. The cardboard will simply rot down into the soil.
Margarine Tubs and Lolly Sticks
I once paid two quid for a bag of white plant labels, and then I saw my mum cutting up margarine tubs and using them instead. I bowed to her frugal ways and spent the next two quid on seeds.
Old lollypop sticks can also be used in this way, and look very presentable sticking out of a pot or in front of a row of seedlings.
Before the sad closure of my local nursery a couple of years ago, I never paid for plastic plant pots as they always had a big box of a free second had ones for customers to help themselves to. Since then, my supplies have run dry, so I’ve used yoghurt pots to fill the void with no problems at all. Just remember to put a few holes in the bottom to allow drainage.
Plastic Milk Bottles, Drink Cans and CDs
Milk bottles and drink cans make great safety covers for the tops of pointy sticks and canes and double up as effective bird scarers when they rattle in the wind.
A nearby plotholder uses CDs to keep the birds away. He puts sticks in the ground, ties string along the top, and hangs CDs down on more string.
Big squash bottles are great for turning into cloches for frost protection and early sowings. Simply cut one in half and slot it over the young plant. They might not be as stylish and attractive as a purpose-made cloche, but they’re not £30 either…
Next time you receive a parcel, don’t throw away the bubble wrap. Laid over seedlings on a cold night, the wrap provides insulation and protection from frost and is a much cheaper alternative to horticultural fleece.