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How to turn your garbage into a garden

Updated on January 27, 2014

Even greener gardening

Gardening is a blessing. It lets you eat tasty food (sensation nearly lost in the age of supermarkets). It's eco-friendly and therapeutic, it reduces your carbon footprint and is one of the most gratifying hobbies you can have. Now, imagine if you could re-use your waste and garden in the same time. Can you get any greener?

Photos by Tiggered

Green poll

Green is hot. As more people become enviromentally aware, recycling and reusing are getting more popular. Or so they say. Let me see if it's true.

Do you reuse?

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egg carton planter copyright: tiggered
egg carton planter copyright: tiggered


I got a bad case of gardenitis. You know, spring and such, everything is bursting with life and I happen to have this balcony which begs to be used. Suddenly I felt it's time to grow something.

The basics of container gardening are pretty straightforward. Get your container, get your soil, get your seeds and off you go. Rrrrright.

A quick tour around gardening centres was enough to give me a heart attack when I realised how much I would have to spend for the terracotta/plastic pots. I usually have a pretty difficult puzzle to solve when it comes to paying rent each month, so this option was out. Time to look for alternatives. And this is how it all began.

tomato plant copyright: tiggered
tomato plant copyright: tiggered

The golden rule of a creative bankrupt

Lack of money doesn't have to mean lack of fun. Sure, going to a shop is the easiest way to get things, but if you can't, it's nothing to worry about.

The golden rule of a creative bankrupt is this: focus on what you already have. Let's trace the process.

Required: a container. Waterproof, for preference. Decent size, at least half a litre, after all you won't grow much in a spoonful of soil. Easy to move around. Easy to pierce to allow for drainage.

This is when I realised I have lots of items perfectly matching this description. Where?

In the rubbish bag.

Learn from the experts

Gardening doesn't require any particular skills, but knowing more will minimise likelihood of any garden disasters. Here's some sources of gardening wisdom

strawberry copyright: tiggered
strawberry copyright: tiggered

Examples of reused containers

Half of my garbage becomes flower pots now. Let me share some ideas on what you can (re)use.

- plastic bottles - long live Coca-cola! Since I'm hopelessly addicted to the stuff, half of my pots are Coke bottles reincarnated. But any plastic bottle will do, as long as it's at least 1.5 litre. Cut in half, pierce the bottom and Bob's your uncle.

- milk/juice cartons - if it holds your drink, it will surely hold some wet mud, right? Easier to pierce, too, and manufacturers usually take pains to put some pretty pictures on their boxes.

- yoghurt pots - the big ones, anyway. You don't even need to cut it.

- plastic cake boxes - I have strawberries now vigorously growing in what once held a delicious carrot cake. Put the cover underneath your box and you won't even have to worry about water draining off.

- egg cartons - you won't fit much soil there, but it should be fine if you put a single seed to each compartment. My last egg box now contains a growing radish in each hollow and I'm optimistic as to the outcome.

- paint buckets - you have some left after this last decorating job? Good for nothing as they are splashed all over with dried paint? Go ahead and plant a bush! The plants won't mind. My bucket-grown raspberry has just shown first flowers, so sure as hell it's working.

- plastic fruit/veg boxes - make them contain veg once again, only growing this time. Mushroom trays, tomato boxes, fruit punnets, anything will do. And they usually already have little ventilation holes, so you don't need to worry about drainage.

earth in a plastic pot copyright: tiggered
earth in a plastic pot copyright: tiggered

Less rubbish, more food growing

My rubbish bags these days are half the weight they used to be.

My garden is getting bigger with every day.

My wallet is no worse off.

Sounds interesting? You can have it too. Simply start growing.


You will need some seeds, too

Share your experience! Or just say 'hi' :)

Gardeners unite!

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Back to sprinkle some angel dust - this is an excellently written lens with a lot to say - but then it is Tiggered we are talking about. :)

    • profile image

      dannystaple 5 years ago

      I was using trimmed off toilet rolls for seed planters at one point, I suspect egg cartons would do nicely. Not so sure the plastic egg trays are quite as handy for that, but they could be pierced. I've not been growing anything recently, having had two children, but will go back to it. I turned some old computer desks into some fully blown garden holders and grew loads of tomatoes in them - although they went outside and carried on growing stuff, I didn't use any wood preparation oils so they are beginning to fall apart. I should try and post the method to a lens one day - my backlog is quite big at the moment...

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I do enjoy your easy, breezy writing style, as well as your content. More angel dust!

    • profile image

      FarmerTom 6 years ago

      Have you seen the simple devices that help you make biodegradable pots out of newspaper? They're really cool, too. A great lens for reminding us all to reuse when we can. Thanks! (And thumbs up.)

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Interesting lens. I have one, a little more silly at times, DUMPSTER DIVING FOR FOOD AND PROFIT...ha!

    • MacPharlain profile image

      MacPharlain 6 years ago

      Good ideas. I started my seedlings this year in yogurt containers I saved over the winter. I wouldn't use a paint can because of risk for chemicals leeching into the soil and plants, though.