Gardeners practiced the concept of the three
R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, long before it became
trendy. People who grow things have a special
relationship with the land and they naturally
take steps to take care of it. Take composting
for example, they have always known that recycled
plant material was beneficial to the soil. Nothing
from my grandmother’s garden or kitchen was ever
wasted. Using manure in the garden was an accepted
fact. These are just some of the recycling practices
which have been around for a long time.
Reducing has also been widely practiced among
the garden folk. Mulching to conserve water and
reduce watering has been standard practice among
many. Water caught in a rain barrel was and is
a good way to get water for the garden taking
the strain off the household water supply. Using
that compost so carefully acquired reduces the
chemicals that have to be added to the soil.
But, I don’t think that any other group shows
as much imagination when it come to reusing. All
of our modern conveniences have created a wealth
of discarded materials that have challenged the
gardener. What self-respecting gardener has not
found some use for clear plastic pop bottles?
From plant covers to scoops to bird feeders, these
containers have been a gardener’s friend. Panty
hose quickly became a staple to tomato growers
for holding up their tender stalks.
All kinds of containers have been used for starting
seeds most notably: foam cups or egg cartons,
either foam or fibre. The rigid plastic packs
that baked goods come in make great mini greenhouses
for starting plants. Even plastic bags are useful
to cover a pot of cuttings or a tray of seeds.
Popsicle sticks are useful in any household
but to a gardener they become plant markers or
even small stakes for seedlings that have become
leggy. Pill bottles or film canisters make excellent
storage containers for seeds.
It is a great temptation for a true gardener
to put a plant or two in any discarded container.
Tea pots, wash tubs, cooking pots, old boots,
buckets, any empty container that can hold some
soil is likely to become a planter or a liner
for a planter. And a plastic bucket, especially
if it has a lid, is a real find.
Ask any gardener what makes the best tomato stakes.
Broken hockey sticks are the number one choice.
But any long stick will do so don’t leave any
scrap pieces of wood where any gardeners can get
their hands on it.
A patch of fruit is not complete without a few
foil plates strung up to scare away the birds.
And what better use for old clothes than to clothe
the distinguished friend of the garden: the scarecrow.
Old sheets, blankets, towels or any good sized
piece of fabric should never be thrown out – they
all come out to adorn the gardenscape on nights
when frost threatens. On those nights the garden
takes on an eerie appearance all decked out in
See what happens when an inventive group of people
takes advantage of the discards of our modern
living. I am proud to associate myself with this
illustrious group of caring and imaginative people.
You all deserve a big thank you and a hearty ‘bravo’.