The Serendipity Gardener

I was brought up with recycling and upcycling as were many people of my generation, even if our younger generation think they were the inventors of it. Instead the younger generation destroyed it by opting for an easier and more lucrative lifestyle of takeaways, ready meals and a plethora of pre-packed produce. I don’t like the throwaway society we have become and I am still on a mission to save the planet. I have a postage stamp size garden and with a shed, greenhouse and pond, there’s no room for growing produce so I make good use of a variety of containers, usually obtained freely.

I use vertical space and have had some success with ‘Three Sisters Planting’ even in a container. Kale, purple podded peas and achocha worked very well together. The peas and achocha climb the arch and netting, letting the kale get on with its own thing. I planted up an extra container last year with ornamental kale but took the mesh off too quickly, not realising cabbage white butterflies were lying in wait. It was a battle thereafter, picking caterpillars off the leaves to leave enough for human consumption. They don’t go to waste either, they get tossed into the pond so they either swim to safety or have a close encounter with a frog. I like to keep well in with the frogs, they eat slugs.

A smaller pot was planted up with strawberry popping corn, dwarf peas and sweet peas. The sweet peas were transplanted but the dwarf peas were in easy reach of the slugs. The strawberry popcorn gave me three world-weary little heads, which I still managed to dry and pop. 

Strawberry Popcorn 2019 a

When it comes to recycling and upcycling, my garden and greenhouse depend on it. My pride and joy in that department has to be my propagator made from recycled material. I have our late rabbit to thank though. When he became ill, we got him an electric blanket for his hutch. Then when he went to the great Watership Down in the sky, I wondered what to do with his blanket. ‘Blanket’ may not give the best idea of what it is but it’s the same principle as an electric blanket for a human, without being fluffy.

I don’t think I can look at much without thinking what potential there is in it, even some of the single use plastic has found a new life in my greenhouse. Foam underlay, a gravel tray rescued from a farm and some polycarbonate offcuts, added to the deceased rabbit’s blanket now became a heated propagator. Not forgetting the irreplaceable duct tape whose only competitor in the useful products department, is the  equally irreplaceable binder twine. Plastic drinking cups become seedling pots and since you can write on them, it saves labels.

Home-made propagator

Much as I detest the plastic revolution, various containers have been procured as plant pots. Five-litre water bottles, milk bottles and various similar containers are used in winter sowing. Sowing seeds in the containers and leaving them outside to the elements, is really quite a natural way for seeds to grow. In nature they don’t come in little paper packets with instructions. This method saves me some space in the greenhouse, and five-litre bottles with the bottom removed, make excellent cloches.

I’ve grown seeds in plastic zip bags with some Perlite moistened with a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide, then left to sprout.

germinating bags
Nasturtiums in polybags

A plastic bottle with a sprinkler cap is ideal to water seedlings and a plastic spoon a good size for using in the seedling trays. Plastic forks needn’t go to waste either as placed strategically around plants, will ensure unscrupulous moggie’s little butts get a sharp reminder that it’s a no-go area.


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