All those empty plastic water and soft drink bottles that you throw into the dustbin each week – whether separated from other rubbish or not – are best held back for a recycling in the garden for a variety of purposes many of which can save your money. Some of our ways of using them are as follows:
Growing plants from cuttings
Cut the top of all sizes and make a small hole in the bottom and you have a usefully deep flower pot for planting up cuttings from the winter cutback.
Moreover if you cut off the top a third of the way down you have a lid that can be taped back on to create a mini green house that will keep cuttings in a constantly moist atmosphere and protected from cold draughts.
Cloches on the vegetable plot.
If you cut some 5 and 7 litre bottles off at the base these make very useful mini cloches for preferentially bringing on some lettuce plants before others and also for protecting young courgette, melon and squash plants when you sow seeds or plant out plantlets in the Spring.
Heads for scare crows.
Turn them upside down and push on top of a post and you have a good head for a scarecrow clothed with last years well worn gardening clothes.
Telling dogs to move on .
Fill a couple with water and place them alongside your two gate posts and most dogs will move on for their morning and evening ablutions. They don’t like the shiny reflecting surface.
Telling white and green fly they are not wanted .
Pour a little yellow paint into one and a half litre bottles and swirl it round until the inside is coated. Let them dry and then place on the ends of canes amongst your brassicas plants on the vegetable plot and amazingly most green and white flies will be deterred.
Keeping garden twine tidy.
You can’t find your garden twine or it gets unravelled and in knots after using the first quarter! The answer is to turn a water bottle into a free string holder and paint it a bright colour.
Attracting and catching breeding insects around fruit trees.
Make traps to hang on fruit trees out of half or one and a half litre bottles and fill with a proprietary bait. Just cut a couple of holes in the upper half of the sides and half fill with an insect bait solution.
Growing vegetables on a mini scale .
Nine one and a half litre bottles taped together make a useful mini raised bed for growing a variety of vegetables. Make up eight such modules and place them together and you start to have a useful raised bed for planting plantlets all the year round. Naturally five and six litre bottles can be used for single tomato or pepper plants.
Label up five large bottles with the top tenth 90 % cut off and you have five hinged lidded storage containers for the seed packets of leaf, root, fruit and flower vegetables and flowers.
Loose wild bird seed can be stored in another.
Reduce cistern capacity
Reduce the amount of water used in flushing toilets by filling one or two one and a half litre bottles and placing them in the cisterns.
Place the smallest sized bottles upside down on the top of garden canes to prevent the sharp ends from damaging your face.
Thread several small bottles of fishing line or string and hang between trees, bushes or canes.
These are just some tasters. Ask your children or grandchildren to come up with some more. The idea of a bottle raised bed might just tempt them to start growing lettuces for their lunchtime sandwiches!
Article © Clodagh and Dick Handscombe November 2009
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