According to the National Gardening Association, food gardening is on the rise and the double-digit growth seen between 2007 and 2009 is expected to continue. Gardeners cite quality, taste and cost savings as the primary reasons for home growing. The NGA estimates that "a well-maintained food garden yields a $500 return when considering a typical gardener's investment and the market price of produce." Combined with some practical garden recycling ideas, homeowners can realize significant savings.
Seed Starting Containers
Those little peat pots available in the garden center are handy, but you pay a price for that convenience. Look around your kitchen and you'll discover a vast supply of free substitutes that would otherwise end up in the trash. Egg crates, paper milk cartons and toilet paper rolls can be filled with potting mix and planted directly in the garden.
Organize a swap meet. Swaps are a popular way to exchange plants, but they can be a great way to recycle used pots and unwanted tools. Other items that can be included in swaps include seeds, garden decor and excess building materials such as bricks, pavers or fencing.
While it's very convenient to compost scraps in a fancy bin or container, it is not necessary. You can make a simple composter by wiring several shipping pallets into a 3-sided container. Shipping pallets are free for the taking from many companies and when assembled, they are the ideal size for building up the heat needed to kill pathogens and weed seeds.
Broken pottery can be used in the bottom of containers to improve drainage. Shards can also be glued and mortared to a plain clay pot to create a fancy mosaic masterpiece.
Plastic milk jugs can be used to mix and apply fertilizers, but they can also serve as frost protectors. Cut the bottom off and place them over tender seedlings as a protective cloche.
To kill a patch of grass before planting a bed, lay carpet, several thicknesses of newspaper or burlap over the area. Weight it down with rocks and remove in 6 to 8 weeks.
Collect and recycle rain and household water. Use a rain barrel beneath each downspout. According to the University of Rhode Island, "a rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months."
Save a few additional gallons of water each week by collecting the cold water as you wait for your shower and save your dishwater. The soapy remains of your washing efforts can be poured on outdoor plants as an effective aphid killer.