Most families generate a quite shocking amount of waste. Luckily, with a bit of imagination, many things can be given a second lease of life.
Holed kettles can be pushed sideways into a hedge for small birds to nest in, a chipped mug can be hung up as a birdfeeder, old carpets can be used on top of the compost heap to help all the ingredients heat up, and plastic photographic film containers are perfect for storing seeds.
Polystyrene packaging makes an excellent alternative to crocks as drainage material for containers. In fact, if you are planting up containers for a balcony or roof garden, polystyrene is really ideal as it is so light it reduces the weight of the containers.
Virtually anything dial can hold water can be used as a plant container, from ancient Wellington boots to old tin baths, plastic buckets and ancient cracked butler’s sinks. Be careful not to over-clutter your garden, however. It¡¯s best to luck these items away in foliage, so that you come to them as a surprise.
Pieces of old carpet, thick layers of newspaper, plastic fertiliser bags and sheets of cardboard can all be used to clear an area of obstinate weeds. Just cover the ground and leave it alone for a year. As the soil is deprived of light nothing will be able to grow and all the troublesome weeds will die. Disguise your mulching material with gravel or bark if it looks too ugly.
Washing-up bowls, old baking trays, upturned dustbin lids and pans are all excellent candidates for transformation into miniature water features. They can either be left unplanted as informal bird baths, or can be planted up to form perfect small-scale habitats that will attract a surprising number of wild visitors. Don’t forget to keep the water very shallow if you have small children.
A lacewing home
The larvae of facewings are a gardener’s true friends, as they prey on aphids. To boost your garden’s facewing population create a comfortable place for them to breed. Take an old, plastic, soft drinks bottle and cut off the base. Now roll up a sheet of corrugated paper and insert it into the bottomless bottle, securing it with large paper clips or wire. Hung it up in a tree for the winter and the lacewings should lay eggs in it.
Glass cloches are now classified as antiques and so have accordingly high price tags. You might be lucky enough to find some al second-hand shops or car-boot sales, so keep an eye out. There are cheaper plastic alternatives available, bill if you need to cover a whole row of plains these will also work out rather expensive. An alternative is to use jam jars for emerging shoots, then as they get larger, slice the bottoms off plastic bottles and use these as cloches for the small young plants. Leafy vegetables prone to slug and snail attack, such as lettuce, will especially benefit from this protection. Discard the lids as the plants need fresh air.
Yoghurt cartons, jam jars and the bottom halves of drinks hollies are perfect containers for seedlings. Jam jars have the advantage of weight, making them less likely to blow over than lighter plastic items. But as it is impossible to make a hole in the bottom of the jar safely be sure to half-fill it with gravel or small pebbles for drainage.
You and your children could decorate your home-made planters by painting them with a mall acrylic paint or by sticking on shells, twigs or pieces of broken china.
Use empty yoghurt carious as moulds to make your own cobbles. Simply mix up some concrete then pour into the carious. Allow to set then lap out the finished cobble. Special powder dyes can be added to the concrete when it is being mixed to change its colour.