Garden Recycling: How to Recycle Everything or Nearly So Into Your Garden

Along with organic wastes, garden recycling provides a way for you to reuse a wide range of materials that would otherwise be hauled away as garbage.

| March/April 1973

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    A milk carton, cut to form a drawer, makes a handy cabinet for filing seed packs according to their appropriate needs.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    All kinds of normally discarded pre-packaging materials, such as aluminum trays, have proven useful in holding individual planting containers.
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    This plastic shoe box rescued from the trash is a perfect planter for starting plants indoors. With the lid shut it keeps the soil moist while the seeds inside germinate.
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    Recycled tin cans and plastic food bags work just as well as expensive commercial plant protectors when young plants are threatened by killing frosts.
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    Those aluminum trays in which baked goods are prepackaged make handy planting containers. Hundreds will stack in a few square inches of shelf space.
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    All kinds of so-called "junk" articles, like the tin cans, damaged bread boxes, and milk cartons are valuable aids in growing garden transplants.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Cardboard milk cartons have multiple uses depending on how they're cut, and are probably the most helpful discard tool after tin cans. Cut at an angle, they make superior feed scoops. Remove the bottom and leave the pouring spout open for ventilation and they also become excellent plant protectors. 
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Every gardener worthy of the name knows that the garden is the perfect recycling center for almost any organic waste. I'd be willing to bet, for instance, that — if you have your own garden and aren't reading this article just to enjoy the beauty of my prose — you also have a compost pile to which you faithfully cart grass clippings, kitchen garbage, and any other suitable material for the enrichment of your vegetable patch.

Perhaps, though — even if you're so used to composting that you look at cooking scraps and think "fertilizer"—you haven't yet formed the useful habit of recycling inorganic household waste into real or potential garden equipment. True, tin cans and plastic meat trays may not seem much like "tools" at first glance . . . but my own experience has convinced me that every discard is usable and some are downright necessary.

I've found that the secret of turning trash into tools is to start collecting handy-looking objects well before they're actually needed. (They won't be in the way if they're stored neatly on shelves or in boxes.) That way, when you come to use the junk items, you'll have a good supply ready.

What sort of trash should you collect? That's easier to decide if you have a few potential uses in mind. You'll develop your own favorite tricks as you go along, but — just to get you started — here's a Garden Recycling List to glance at before you toss anything out.



Light Reflectors

Do you know that reflected light has been proved effective in helping to repel plant-eating insects, including aphids? Or that some plants enjoy improved health and productivity when they're provided with additional reflected sunlight?

These bits of information are all the more encouraging when you realize that no special, expensive equipment is needed to give your plants the benefits of reflected light. In fact, many of us throw out odds and ends every day that would be perfect for this use.

stuartbates
7/2/2016 7:44:22 AM

I completely agreed with the fact that garden is the perfect recycling center. Therefore gardeners are always experimenting with different features of recycling process; the most efficient part of recycling in gardens are composting, where we are using waste products to produce fertilizer through recycling. It ultimately increases the recycling system. http://tennisballcourts.com/







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