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Your best reuse/repurposed item for gardening?

I just realized creating compost fits the bill!

But I was thinking about how helpful old pantyhose is. You can cut across the "limb" to make various size bands or use an entire leg as a quick fix bit of rope. I use it the most for securing branches to trellis or cages. It is gentle and will stretch as the plant grows. I have some pieces which have been used for at least 15 years!

Whats your favorite frugal tip?

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  1. I hang old cds -- I think they're the AOL ones that used to come in the mail -- from ribbons in my cherry tree. They move in the breeze and flash light, keeping most of the robins from eating the cherries. Only problem is I can't quite get them high enough, so the birds eat the top-most fruit. Of course this year most of my cherries have rotted in the rain.....

    What else? Old plastic strawberry baskets keep the cats from disturbing the soil around tiny lettuces and herbs. I'm sure I'll think of more. Good topic!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Glencora

      You folks are ingenious. All I could think of was 5 gallon pails that joint compound comes in and plastic kitty litter containers. But if compost counts, so do wood ashes from our stove and furnace. I kept the boxes clementines come in to hold plants or whatever. I re-used plastic milk bottles for winter sowing. How could I forget plastic milk jugs! I use them to mix fish fertilizer and water. Old coffee cans and plastic jugs to hold rock phosphate, lime, etc.
      I also have a beautiful cast iron plant stand that was originally on an old stove to hold a bottle of kerosene.

      1. re: dfrostnh

        We use gallon milk jugs, gallon jars our favorite restaurant saves for us for cloches to protect plants from frosts and help winter over some tender perennials. We've also got them saving coffee grounds and raw veg scraps for our compost. We use clean cans and milk jugs for starting seeds and transplant pots. Dishwasher detergent jugs get their bottoms cut out and their snouts buried next to plants with delicate crowns. We fill up the jugs with water and the roots get a drink without promoting crown rot. We use newspaper instead of shards in the bottoms of pots to slow down loss of water when giving potted plants a drink. It allows any extra water to seep out slowly. An old 5 shelf wire restaurant kitchen rack, 4 fluorescent shop lights, and a power strip is our seed starting station in the late winter/early spring and houses herbs and a salad garden from mid-fall through the winter months.

        Going the opposite direction: A half gallon pump garden sprayer we got at the dollar store was so efficient and easy to use that I went back and got another for rinsing down the shower and tub walls in our bathrooms!

        1. re: morwen

          I've been using an old trampoline to scare away the deer. The unstable ground freaks out animals. Cardboard boxes are like money, so many uses. Basically any piece of junk you have can be used to create a wall against invaders. Not sure how well it will work, but I found an old rusty fence and it scares the heck out of my dog.

    2. Not really a reuse, but I needed to put a fence around my garden to keep the dog out. i didn't want to spend any more money than needed. I noticed that about a mile from my house there was a wild bmboo grove growing in a railroad right of way. I pulled my van up, cut several pieces and took it home and built the fence, binding the rails to the posts using old copper wire I had left over. I'm getting a lot of complements. I spent a weekend building the fence. No money involved, And one neighbor asked ne to go with him to get some. he made trellises for his tomatoes.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jibe

        I use wild bamboo for all sorts of things. Stakes for my tomatoes, fences, etc. Also, I love to use it in lieu of curtain rods!

        1. re: Jibe

          I love the idea of using wild bamboo!

          The Japanese knotweed where I am gets HUGE, though this year a lot of it got killed by late frost.According to Steve Brill, before it gets huge, you can also eat it like rhubarb.

        2. Use your hose for a tomato hammock too or to protect ripening fruit from birds.

          I use milk or juice jugs to cover seedlings. I use hulls, shells and pits around things slugs like. Keeps them in the observation deck.

          I use the last of the clothes bleach mixed with water to clean pruners. When I am done, the bottle is ready for the recycler.

          1. I've lined my garden w/ double thickness Wall Street Journal. As a mulch, it holds in water a bit, but mainly it serves to keep dirt from splashing up on the lower leaves and spreading wilt. I get wilt eventually anyway, but this seems to postpone it. And of course, it keeps down weeds. And it degrades over the winter.

            But sometimes I get distracted and start reading when I'm supposed to be working...

            1. i use small water bottles to irrigate my tomato plants. I poke holes in an empty water bottle & cut open the bottom. Stick the business end head first into the soil - when watering, I pour water down into the bottle and it ensure the roots get the water they need.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Apple

                Hi, I tried that but it just runs through. I can fill the bottle again and again but it just runs out at the bottom of my planters. Any ideas what I am doing wrong? Thanks!

                1. re: josey124

                  hi - what size are your bottles & what size are your containers? What do you have in your containers - top soil, triple mix, soil amendments?

                  I use the smaller size (half liter?) water bottle and 5 gallon containers. I use a mixuture of top soil, and mushroom compost - the latter holds moisture.

                  Do you have the cap on the waterbottle? (if water is pouring out of your container, you need to keep the cap on.) Drill a couple of holes near the neck and pour the water through. The water should be coming out the holes you drilled now. Also, I don't have the bottom of the water bottle touch the bottom of the container, I put it in pretty deeply but not all the way down - sort of 2/3 of the way down - I let gravity takes its course.

                  Let me know if that helps!

                  1. re: Apple

                    I don't know how big the planters are but 5 gallon might be right. The bottles range from one to two liters and I have several holes in the caps. The bottles do not touch the bottom of the planters.
                    I made the soil mix myself it is part pro-mix, part vermiculite and different manures (mushroom, cattle, sheep etc.)
                    I don't want to cap the planter bottoms since it needs to drain of excess water in case I overwater (happens now and then).
                    I was wondering if I have to many (tiny) holes in the bottle caps though.
                    Or I have too much gravity going on! ;-)

                    1. re: josey124

                      yes - I agree - do not cap the bottom of the container. Otherwise you will have root rot.

                      But perhaps you have diagnosed this correct ly - maybe you have too many holes....

                      check out this link:

                      She has a very detailed "how to" - perhaps from reading her instructions you
                      she knows what she is talking about. My set up is slightly different because I don't have crazy hot sun & I water in the evening after the sun sets.

                      1. re: Apple

                        Funny, I used those instructions to make mine. I didn't cut the whole bottom off though. I thought the water would evaporate too quickly so I only cut a hole in the bottom so I can fit the hose in to refill. I will try a new bottle and only put one or two holes in the cap and see if it makes a difference. Thanks for your help!

              2. Old socks to make ties for tomato plants, and plastic containers from lettuce, berries etc. to use as seed-starters:

                2 Replies
                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  I nearly forgot that one! Plastic cake domes and rotisserie chicken containers from the grocery store make great seed starters too.

                  1. re: morwen

                    Yes! I used the large containers from Costco that the wraps come in as seed starters this year. They worked well.

                2. Almost time to make my plastic plum plucker: remove the bottom from a milk jug, cut a V, tape to the end of a broom. At the end of the season, recycle. Much better than shaking the tree and getting plums on the head.

                  1. An old stainless dinner fork is just right for many planting jobs like patting down seeds to make good contact with the soil mix, extracting seedlings from 6- or 9-packs, etc.

                    1. repurposing:

                      I use the metal u-shaped staples for securing drip lines as mini cultivators in my raised beds since they are lying sournd everywhere from use as anchors for bird net, wire cages, etc. They loosen soil crust and stir in side-dressed fertilizers mid season perfectly.

                      I also use a 30" section of tongue&groove 1x6 on edge as a soil leveling tool when doing mass planting of carrots & lettuce--it smoothes the soil to eliminate shallow depressions where water would stand. I use the tongue edge for a "drill" for planting seeds grow in rows like bush beans, it's just the right (about) 1/2" depth for many seeds.

                      An old timer showed me a great trick for shading newly transplanted tender annuals: Use a wooden roof shake (which tapers to a thin edge) as a shade by plunging the thin edge into the soil at an angle which will shade the plant at noon, but allow sun to come in early in the morning and late afternoon. It's genious, really. Move the shake around at noon to find th best shade angle, making sure th seedling will be protected till about 3 oclock. Leave in place about a week, then remove. They also make good earwig and snail trap boards.

                      Also bought some old wood clothes pins at a garage sale for lots of uses: holding empty seed packets as row markers (used upside down) clpiing bird net to wire cages and row covers, etc.

                      I give talks to kids about growing from seed, and love to collect food containers like those mentioned above to show them how to recycle stuff as seed starting containers. Old yogurt containers and white plastic lids can be cut with scissors into strips to make row markers. I LOVE the foam mushroom pint boxes as container for seedlings with foam meat trays as 'saucers'. Kids love to make suggestions too, although I find the old tale of using egg cartons not pracical. Not deep enough.

                      1. I like to use hose for that. Also, as sort of a "cheesecloth" to make various "teas" for the garden.

                        1. I use the plastic transparent macdonald´s sundays cups to cover little plants in little pots. they fit just right :)

                          1. So many repurposings! My favorite was using the toddler toy table, the one with the tray holding a bunch of noisemakers and shapes, as a container for planting salad mix.

                            Others: I use sections of yogurt container or 2-liter bottle for cutworm collars. We save yogurt containers all year for this purpose, sometimes filling the whole container with soil for a tomato plant that's been started from seed, then cutting half of the container off and planting the whole thing when the plant is ready to go out in the garden. The rest of the container is used to protect another plant, usually cuke seedlings that otherwise get mown down repeatedly by slugs and bugs.

                            Half two-liter bottles are also good for plant protectors when the seedlings are small or it's still cold out. When using the half with the cap, if the weather gets too hot but the plant still needs protecting, you can take the cap off to allow some of the hot air to vent.

                            I make other seed starter pots out of tubes of rolled-up newspaper cut into 5 inch sections with the ends notched into tabs and folded over, and cardboard egg cartons are good for starting seeds that go out as tiny seedlings. The tops of plastic egg cartons are good for either drip trays for the cardboard ones, or for starting flats themselves, filled with soil.

                            1. I just saw a garden that had several electric fan fronts/cages (the kind that are on a base and rotate) attached to the top of a pole, with string running down to green beans. There must have been 10 of these. I guess they bought the same fan every year or something, or maybe a fan factory was going out of business

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kizil

                                If it is possible, I would love to see a photo of this! Color me intrigued...