Every time growing season comes around, my friends and I go crazy trying to track down and account for all of the pots and planters that we may need to start seeds and transplant older plants. We either end up buying too many or not having enough for what we need (and then we have to make repeat trips to the garden store, which is such a pain).
Thankfully, I’ve become acquainted with some fairly thrifty people in recent years who have taught me how to transform everyday items into quick-and-easy planters. Once you start to make your own, you’ll never need to go back to the gardening store for supplies! You’ll be eyeing every piece of detritus in or around your home to see if you can stuff a few pepper plants here, some chives there.
My favorite part about making planters is being able to take recycling into my own hands. Instead of sending off my trash to some faraway dump, I can repurpose it for something beneficial and tangible. I’m also making something, which honestly feels much better than simply buying what I need from a store. Most of the time, all you need is a sharp pair of scissors or a trusty pocketknife.
If you’re a first-time planter recycler, start small with little boxes or cans. They’re the perfect size for starting seeds, and it’s super easy to transplant from them. This is especially suitable for small-scale gardeners who just have enough room for a couple of veggies at home.
While cans are fairly obvious (just slice off the top and fill it with soil!), you’ll have to go through some trial-and-error with boxes. My favorite cardboard boxes for planting are the small, waterproof ones that come with store-bought tofu. If you want to go larger, open up one of the sides of an empty beverage carton or milk box. Generally, it’s a good idea to use a box that used to hold something wet so that it doesn’t disintegrate after you water whatever you put in it.
To take that concept one step further, you could use empty plastic bottles for bigger and slightly more permanent plants. When opened up on its side, the basic 20-ounce plastic soda bottle can comfortably house a single herb, like thyme or lavender. You probably don’t need a sprawling amount of each herb, so the small size keeps the herb to a reasonable stature. A larger, 1-liter bottle can obviously hold something heftier – lettuce or wildflowers, perhaps?
Another great thing about plastic bottles is that they’re really durable. (Although that same quality is unfortunate when you think about all of the plastic that has been carelessly thrown away over the years.) If you want to stack the bottles vertically, you could nail them (with two nails each) to a wooden board, which you could then erect outside on your balcony or fire escape.
You can also use certain materials without manipulating them at all! For the same kind of vertical growing awesomeness, fill the pockets of an old closet shoe organizer with dirt, then hang it on a backdoor, fence, or railing. Of course, this would work best with a plastic or waterproof material. To make the dirt look a little more interesting, stick some neat-looking rocks into the pockets. You should also be sure to prick a few holes in each pocket so that excess water can drain out. The organizer method is also great if you want to grow both shade-loving and sun-hungry plants in the same space: just place the former underneath the latter!
This next idea is pretty specialized and kind of messy, but it’s super useful: use an old laundry basket to grow 10 lbs. of potatoes! Fill the basket with about 2 inches of dirt, then put your seed potatoes in. As they grow, cover them with more dirt and compost in order to emulate the hilling technique that you would use in a traditional garden plot. If you want to use the famous “potato tower” technique, you can use other materials – like an old plastic lampshade – to increase the basket’s height and, subsequently, your crop yield.
If you plan on reusing the same containers for new plants each season, be sure to clean them out and sterilize them in-between plantings in order to prevent the spread of disease. You can use bleach or vinegar (my favorite method).
Once you’ve got your planters set up, just sit back and watch your plants thrive!
- Easy Spring Planter (thisbudisforyou.wordpress.com)
- 5 Fabulous Outdoor Planters (chateauandbungalow.com)
- Grow up for a new slant on gardening (mysanantonio.com)