28 Upcycles for the Garden
In this Instructable I will demonstrate how to upcycle 28 (or more) everyday household items for gardening.
Step 1: Styrofoam cups with dome lids
Just wash well.
For cuttings; fill cup with sand or light potting soil, poke small hole in bottom for drainage, dip cutting in rooting hormone powder, stick stem in soil, put dome cap on and place in cool, shady to semi-shady spot.
For seed starting; fill with seed starting mix, add seeds, water lightly, place dome on top. If dome has hole in center, cover with tape, remove after seedlings get first true leaves. Set in warm (not hot) spot.
For transplanting seedlings; poke small hole in bottom for drainage, fill cups with light weight potting soil, poke a hole into soil with pencil, add seedling, damp soil lightly around seedling, water. Add dome and set in semi-shaded to partially sunny spot.
Check regularly to make sure the soil is not drying out if dome is the kind with a hole in the center.
Step 2: Styrofoam mushroom containers
Just wash, fill with seed starting mix, sprinkle in some seeds (these are good for starting basil) cover with a plastic bag or put in green house. Mist as needed.
Step 3: Styrofoam Egg Carton Rooting Boats
a. remove lid from egg carton, save.
b. poke 1 hole in each egg cup and several in lid using a pencil or pen
c. place cuttings in holes — inside cups and lid (lid should be upside down)
d. float in plastic bin
e. watch for mosquitoes! replace water every few days.
f. when roots are dangling, then cut away Styrofoam (don’t try to pull plants out or you will damage roots) and lift out plants gently.
g. pot up in good quality potting soil.
Step 4: Milk Cartons and Ice Cream Take Outs
Use the left over top section of milk cartons to make plant markers. Cut into 1 inch wide strips and add plant name with ink pen. Add to pot.
The ice cream/frozen yogurt cups are much like the Styrofoam cups with dome lids but not as insulated. They are shorter and wider however, which makes them good for starting seeds.
Step 5: Plastic bags For Mini-Greenhouses
Step 6: Crib Upcycle 1
I just tacked the springs to the fence with a couple nails and it has stayed and worked beautifully. Last year I used the trellis to grow luffa sponge vines.
Step 7: Crib Upcycle II
I painted the side rail blue, covered the inside with a grass rug I got at the dollar store but wasn’t using. The metal rods which are attached to the rails were perfect to stake the rail to the ground in front of the AC unit.
Step 8: Old T-Shirts or Pantyhose or Yarn Bits
To make ties:
Cut t-shirt into strips
Use knee high hose intact or cut pantyhose in pieces
Use left over yarn bits at least 8 inches long
Step 9: Old Fence Pieces Up-cycle
a. dig a hole the circumference of the trashcan, about 4-5 inches deep.
b. cut out bottom of trashcan or poke several large holes for drainage. (this would be a good up-cycle for a leaky trashcan)
c. sink trashcan into hole
d. place fence pieces around trashcan (get a helper for this part)
e. lash the fencing to the trashcan with rope. (go around several times)
f. lash a second row
g. secure rope(s) with knots and wire
h. pack dirt around base of trashcan
h. fill trashcan with good soil.
i. plant up
Step 10: Old Trash Cans
a. dig a hole the circumference of the trashcan, at least 6 inches deep
b. drill holes every few inches all over sides of can (these are to let in necessary oxygen for the composting process)
c. cut bottom out of trashcan
d. sink can into hole, open bottom first
e. fill with layers of browns and greens– news paper, old leaves, grass cuttings, and kitchen scraps,etc
f. add a little garden soil for microbes
g. spray with water hose
h. snap on lid
i. turn (or stir) with a garden fork every few days
When the compost process is complete it will look like black soil and have a sweet/minty smell, like fresh earth. Just remove can lid, lift whole can up and the contents will spill out onto the ground. Shovel contents onto a tarp for shifting out big chunks of roots, sticks, etc.
Place empty trashcan back into hole. If using more than one bin, this will become the “New” compost bin.
Usually the bottom layer of compost is more finished than the top layer–if the top isn’t done “cooking” just scoop it up and put in the top of the other can. Or you can add it back to the same can, making it now be the bottom, either way is fine.
Step 11: Wine Corks
a. cut corks in half, length-wise
b. hot glue to pot, filling in like a puzzle
I used a cheap (ugly) plastic pot.
Step 12: Sisal Rope Pieces
a. unbraid rope, use only one strand (whole rope is too thick)
b. wind around pot, glue with hot glue gun
c. plant it up
Step 13: Old Milk Crates
Step 14: Yard Art From Junk
Step 15: Wine Bottles
Step 16: Logs
Find straight pieces that fit or cut with saw into right length. Place on edge of flower bed, hold in place with wire (I up-cycled pieces of garden fencing which came apart) bent into a “U” shape and shove into ground like a staple or use mallet to hammer into ground.
Step 17: Logs and Stumps
Bundle two or three together with baling wire and stand on end. Set flower pots or yard art on the top end of each log.
Step 18: Old Shower Curtains
Duct tape around the outside edge will hold the liner in place. Or you can try staples.
Don’t forget to poke a couple holes in the bottom of the liner for drainage!
Step 19: Potting Soil Bags
For hanging baskets; cut to shape, fit into basket frame, poke drainage holes, fill with soil, plant up.
For mulch: Cut to fit pot, leaving a hole in center for plant. Slit and slide under plant and cover soil. Cover mulch plastic with pebbles, straw or wood mulch to hide it. The plastic will hold the moisture in pots during the heat of summer, saving water and stress on plants.
Step 20: Water Bed Frame
a. make sure all corners are securely attached on the frame, tighten if necessary
b. measure the length and width of frame
c. mark out the garden space to fit, use a water hose or string and sticks
d. inside the marked area till the earth or turn with shovel
e. dig down several inches
f. place frame in tilled area
g. press into place by hammering with mallet or stepping on edge
h. add soil and amendments as necessary, turn
i. water well and let settle for a week to 10 days before planting
Step 21: X-mas Ornaments
I added a little glitter to some old ornaments and hung them in our fig tree. We got figs for the first time in years.
Step 22: Broken Terra Cotta Pots
a. wash and dry pots
b. if cracked only, break a entrance hole in top edge of pot–use pliers or carefully chip away with hammer until you have at least a 3 inch wide hole
c. sand edge of hole with sandpaper until sharp edges gone
e. put in damp cool spot, upside down (bury into earth a little)
f. pray for toads
Step 23: Cracked Terra Cotta Pots
Step 24: Food Cans
Step 25: Mesh Produce Bags
Step 26: Worn and/or Stained Area Rugs
Step 27: Fence Rails and other cast offs
Step 28: Kitchen Scraps Up-cycle
Pineapples once planted, take 2-3 years to fruit. When you water your pineapple plant, pour water in the crown (center).
a. save the top of a fresh pineapple, leaving an inch or so of flesh intact below the crown
b. set aside let dry for a day or so
c. put builder’s sand or potting soil in a Styrofoam mushroom tray or other shallow container, punch a drainage hole
d. place pineapple top in sand, water
e. put in a cool semi-shady spot
f. forget about it–remembering to water occasionally
g. after several weeks it will grow roots
h. pot up
i. feed occasionally with liquid sea weed or fish emulsion
j. water occasionally
k. forget about it
l. pot up as it grows–they grow into large spikey plants
m. bring inside or into a greenhouse for the winter–they can’t take the cold!
Other “scraps” I have upcycled included but are not limited to — seeds from store bought Texas grapefruit. I now have several small (1-2 ft) grapefruit trees in pots. I plan to plant them in the ground soon.
I was given a Myer’s lemon tree and it fruited. I saved some of the seeds and planted them. They took forever but now I have 2 tiny lemon trees.
I have also saved seeds from store bought tomatoes and grown cherry tomatoes.
There are lots of plants you can grow from “scraps” as well as save seeds from your garden and yard. For example, every year I grow moonvines. I save the seeds in Fall to be planted the following Spring. Upcycling at its best!