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Gardening | Children's Gardening with Recyclables

Some creative ideas to upcycle and recycle in your garden

You don’t need to get new items delivered from a garden centre to start your seed growing journey.  You can use several household items to grow your seeds in. 

The whole family can get involved to use recycled items in the garden, it is a good way of redeveloping used items that might have ended up in the bin.

Recycled items to use in the garden

Child planting seeds into a propogation pot in a kitchen
Propagators

Upcycle plastic food trays to a mini greenhouse. There is no need in buying expensive, plastic trays from garden centre to grow your seeds, you can place your mini newspaper pots into a leftover plastic container from pastries, to give the seeds the extra warmth that they need.

A lolly stick with 'rocket' written on it stick into soil next to a row of plants
Lolly sticks

When you are planting seeds, you often forget what you have planted and the date you planted them. By writing on a lolly stick, you can ensure the name of the plant has been recorded and the date it was planted.

Plastic bottle being repurposed for a plant pot
Plastic bottles

A water bottle can be used to make a slow draining watering system in the soil. All you need to do is put some holes around the base and place it into the soil, so that the lid is just showing above. Fill the water bottle up with water to ensure your plants get water at the root level.

Discs being used in the garden as a pest deterrant
Old CDs & DVDs

These can be threaded onto string and attached in a line across your new planted vegetable garden, to stop birds from eating your new crops. When attached on a line, CDs can blow in the wind and reflect the sun to warn animals away from your crop and find a less threatening food source.

Other ideas

  • Repurpose your old household items, such as a wheelbarrow or sink to turn into a herb garden to become an attractive feature in the garden.
  • Toilet rolls are great items for using to sow large seeds, such as sweet peas, broad beans, runner beans and sweetcorn. Peas should not be planted in this way as they do not like their roots being disturbed. 
  • Vegetable trays from mushrooms or strawberries can be used to grow seeds, simply add in some holes for drainage and you have an ideal seed growing container.
  • Newspaper can be pulped and shaped round a three-inch flowerpot. This also allows planting without root disturbance.
  • Paper cups are slightly more resilient than toilet rolls and newspaper pots as they are designed to hold liquids. Ensure you pierce the bottom of the cup to ensure adequate drainage for your plant.
  • Egg shells as well as egg cartons can also be used to grow seeds, but just a smaller amount of seeds. Make sure you wash your eggshells thoroughly before planting.
  • Use your leftover milk bottles or water bottles to create mini greenhouses, by cutting the base off and placing over seedlings which have just been replanted outside. This keeps the heat in, particularly if there is a frost and helps to keep pesky slugs and snails away.

Composting your waste

Check out our partner’s resources for extra composting ideas, on the RHS website.

  • Make sure you compost your food waste, especially as many food bins are not being collected. It costs nothing to start composting and converts your kitchen and garden waste into free compost.
  • Manure from animal droppings such as chickens, rabbits and horses can be used or added into your compost to break down.
  • Coffee grounds are a great way to use something that would otherwise end up in landfill and is great fertiliser for plants, as well as repelling slugs and snails.
  • Powdered eggshells contain a large amount of calcium and can be sprinkled onto your plant beds once or twice a year. The eggshells must be thoroughly cleaned first and left to dry.
  • Used tea from leaf tea or tea bags are a good source of fertiliser, as they are good for nitrogen. If you use a teapot any tea left in the pot can be poured on the plants instead of down the sink.

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