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Nine Fun Ways to Garden While Recycling

Updated on May 13, 2015

There are so many ways that the average household produces waste. Organic and inorganic refuse can be used to make gardening easier, more practical, or just more aesthetically pleasing. In this day and age, many people are looking for ways to keep waste out of the landfills. I have compiled several ways of doing this that are not only easy, but effective.

Tires from cars, trucks, etc.

Looking for a good way to raise potatoes? Maybe you just want to build raised beds and don't have a lot of money to spend. Help your pocket book and the environment out by reusing old tires as miniature raised beds for what ever you may be raising. You can use tires to raise your beds anywhere from 8 inches to over a foot, depending on what kind of tires you use. You can plant pretty well anything you can imagine in these miniature raised beds. Potatoes will work especially well, because you can set your tires out, put seed potatoes in the tires, cover with some dirt, and then continually add more soil and compost as they grow. This saves time on digging holes for each seed potato and your tires can be used year after year.

Egg shells

Egg shells can be used in a multitude of ways. Egg shells make excellent fertilizer for soils that need calcium. Tomatoes can show blossom end rot without enough calcium. Shells can also be used as organic seedling starters. Use shells that have been cracked in half, fill most of the way with soil, and plant your seeds. When they are ready to plant, crack up the shell and place in the soil with the seedlings. One problem gardeners encounter with starting their own seedlings is that they don't plant when the roots are at the optimum level. Roots then become overgrown in the pot and makes plants that are transplanted take more time to root properly. Seedlings planted in egg shells will crack before becoming overly bound.

Old/Stale Beer

You would be hard-pressed to find an American household without some quantity of beer in the fridge. However, not everyone drinks all their beer all the time. For those of you who may have outdated or stale beer in the fridge, don't throw it away! Stale beer makes great fertilizer. When you break it down to its base components, beer is just fermented grain and plants. How do you build compost? Very generally, in the same way. Stale beer can be used in compost piles to accelerate composting bacteria, or poured directly into the garden to build good bacteria in the soil as well as adding micro- and macronutrients into the soil.

Coffee grounds

How much coffee do you drink in a week? a month? a year? Keeping your used grounds out of the landfill will keep several pounds of waste out of landfills merely by you not pitching them. Extrapolate that if your neighbors follow suit. Subsequently, Starbucks and it's sister company, Seattle's Best, have programs where they give away used coffee grounds to gardeners for fertilizing. Taking advantage of this, for those of you who don't drink coffee, will keep untold vast quantities of waste out of landfills. Coffee grounds can be used as a great organic fertilizer. Grounds can be used to decrease pH making it more suitable for acid loving plants like azaleas and blueberries.

Kitchen waste

Food scraps from fruits and vegetables, the jack-o-lantern that has served it's purpose, decorative gourds that are past their prime, stale or moldy bread are all great fodder for a compost pile. Along with lawn clippings and other lawn refuse, this organic waste can be transformed and turned into beneficial compost which is full of nutrients. Food scraps can be tilled into your garden in the fall to break down through the winter, making your garden that much more fertile the following spring.

Lawn refuse

Every year, tons and tons of lawn refuse end up in landfills. Not only does this fill them up faster, but you are in some places, paying to get rid of fertilizer. Grass clippings and leaves can be used as ground cover for plants during the growing season, helping to conserve water as well as hold down weeds. In the fall, turning them under will increase organic content and add needed nitrogen, along with other nutrients to your garden. Also, composting of these things can create beneficial compost to add to the topsoil of your garden. Plus, using proper composting techniques will help to eliminate weed seeds that may be present in lawn refuse.

Empty egg cartons

Egg cartons are made of cardboard, which will allow the transfer of water. You can use the bottom half of cartons as cells to plant new seedlings. Fill the cells most of the way and plant your seeds in each cell. Place multiple cartons on a cookie sheet or other tray and you can not only water the cells, but also water the base tray. The cardboard cartons will allow water to penetrate from the bottom, this promotes root development. When you transplant, the constant moisture will have broken down the structure of the cardboard cartons, and make them perfect fodder for composting.

Milk cartons

If not recycled, these cartons can take up space in a landfill quickly. Cut the top and bottom off of the carton and you can use them to protect new transplants from critters like rabbits. The bottoms can be used as trays for seedlings and the tops can be used as funnels or recycled.

Yogurt cups w/lids

These cups can be easily used as seedling starters instead of being thrown away. Fill most of the way full of soil, plant your seeds, and let them grow. When it comes time to transplant, the soft plastic cup makes it easy to massage the root ball out of the cup. Also, they can be reused for several years.

These are just a few ways to reuse household waste and make our gardens just a little bit better. More people recycling means less garbage in the landfills, and more fruits and vegetables on the dinner table. Take advantage and as always, happy gardening!


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