The world is finally wakening up to just how damaging plastic can be and we all need to be more conscious of the materials we use in our gardens.
Gardeners use LOTS of plastic in our bid to be outdoors enjoying nature – which seems ridiculous! But everything from hose pipes, watering cans, never ending plant pots and trays, and even the bags the compost comes in are all plastic
If your like me with kids who like to help outdoors, its important to help them learn new lessons instead of making the problem worse.
Ways to reduce plastic in your garden
It’s important not to just bin all your plastic items.
The best way to deal with existing plastics you already have is to use it as often and for as long as you can before recycling it.
Black plant pots can be used for years before needing to be replaced, but even so these can then be cut up and used as plant labels for a long time further before the need to be binned.
Here’s some more ideas when you need to replace items, its worth thinking about.
- When you need to replace your plastic pots, buy terracotta, bamboo pots or even make your own paper pots
- Use wooden plant labels.
- You could switch your hose for a metal watering can.
- Buy compost in bulk or make your own, check out this post to get started
- Try using cardboard to suppress weeds.
- Make your own bug repellents. Make rhubarb liquid garlic soup or elder liquid to deter pests.
- DIY plant food. Again making your own comfrey feed, seaweed fertilizer, nettle tea, to keep your plants happy without buying plastic bottles of feed.
- Reuse household junk to give it a new life, plastic trays, muffin trays, soda bottles and loo rolls can all be used in the garden.
- Buy metal or wooden tools. They last longer and you don’t need to worry about buying plastic.
Alternative uses for plastic in the garden
We have been playing with the idea of recycling single use plastics and giving them a new life in the garden.
Bottle top garden craft is another fantastic way to reuse plastic in your garden.
For example, you can extend the growing season for things like salads and spinach etc. by using the outdoor plastic cloche idea. You can start some seeds off outdoors much earlier whatever the weather.
Here’s how to do it in 6 steps
- We started with a clean milk container but you could use a large soda or water bottle.
- Use scissors to cut the container almost in in half but leave it connected by a little part to act as a hinge that can open and close.
- Cut small holes at the base of each corner for drainage. A ballpoint pen, a heated, half inch nail or a knitting needle works great.
- Add some multipurpose compost to the lower half of the container, don’t fill right to the top, leave a small gap to allow for watering.
- Now sow your seeds. We sowed spinach seeds and radish in ours. Cover them lightly with soil.
- Water them lightly.
- Close the ‘lid’ and pop outdoors in a sheltered spot. Remember to check for watering every few days.
You could even pop these mini greenhouses on your windowsills or on a patio or balcony.
Seed Starting Ideas That Help To Reduce Plastic.
If you’re starting seeds in the greenhouse this year, here are some awesome DIY seed starter pots you can make from recycled materials you already have in your home!
Toilet Paper Rolls. Toilet paper rolls are great for growing most plants but especially ones that have long tap roots and hate being disturbed: beans, peas, and sweet peas are all ideas.
Paper cups, a friend of mine works in a coffee shop and regularly gives me washed or damaged cups which are great for large seeds like courgettes, pumpkins and sweetcorn
Supermarket Vegetable Trays. The wooden crates fruit comes in are great for salads, peas or carrots.
You can make your own paper pots from newspaper or scrap paper.
Plastic food containers are my go to for seed sowing. It’s amazing the variety of containers you can accumulate. Just remember to add drainage holes.
Muffin containers have a hinged lid that makes a perfect mini greenhouse.
Plastic Bottle Cloches are a great way to reuse plastic bottles. Use the top part of the bottle to cover newly planted seedlings (with the cap removed).
Soda bottle salad bar. Lay a soda bottle on its side and cut a large channel in the top. Make a few holes in the bottom for drainage and you have a perfect seed bed to fill with soil and your favourite salad leaves.
Egg shells. If you carefully crack the top off a boiled egg and scoop out the insides, you can reuse them as seed starter pots. A bit fiddly but a cute idea.
Milk jugs can be reused as watering cans is so helpful for little ones who can’t manage a large hose or watering can.
Empty food pots. Noodle pots, meat trays and yogurt pots etc. can all take a turn at being a seed tray for a variety of plants. My particular favourite at the moment is fruit punnets. The clear container is a good depth and already has holes in it.
Pallet garden. Recycle a pallet instead of using pots and plant into this instead.
More Tips on ways to reduce plastic coming into your garden.
- Always look for containers made from recycled plastic if at all possible.
- When ordering new plants, check with suppliers about their packaging. If your ordering bare-root trees, bedding plants, and more, why not ask whether they could come wrapped in paper?
- Use wooden trellis, twiggy branches or bamboo canes instead of plastic coated netting.
- Make your own plant markers from lolly sticks, painted rocks, or write on the backs of old plastic ones that you might have from last year. You can also cut up butter tubs or old plant pots to make labels.
- Use old compost bags as weed suppressant or turn them inside out and plant potatoes in them.
There are a few tips to get you started. Its so important if we want this world to go on, to teach our kids how to reduce our plastic and take a step back to nature.
I’d love to know what ideas you have for reducing plastic in your garden?