Sunday, 29 June 2014

Driftwood Gardening

Gardening containers come in many shapes and sizes.  Far too many people however rely on garden centres for their supply of such containers and at quite a cost too; to both their pockets and the environment.

Apart from the odd expense of a large ceramic pot for our treasured, large and aged plants (such as our olive tree), here in the Driftwood garden we like to take a different approach to container gardening.  

We don't have a huge expanse of open ground to grow our produce in so we do need to be inventive with both space and money. We do use grow bags in a conventional way for our tomatoes but we also use them on their sides to grow beans and upright as strawberry 'towers' on the paved area outside the boundaries of our garden. This not only allows us to grow more produce but 'greens up' an otherwise grey area and perhaps even encourages others to do the same. In fact this very week our neighbour has put a container of plants outside his own gate.  We may lose the odd strawberry here and there to birds and local kids but it is still valuable space that we otherwise would not have had.  

The great thing about grow bags is that if you need to buy compost anyway (our compost bin has its limits) then a grow bag is a ready made container too.  Just prop it upright, cut off the top, fold the plastic down and plant.  Cut one in half for two smaller containers.  After all, what were you going to do with the empty bag anyway?  It is kind of weird that people buy bags of compost and then empty the contents into expensive containers before chucking the bag away.  

Old plastic tubes/drainage pipes make good strawberry towers too. Stand one upright, cut holes at intervals along its length and plant up.  I stole the one in the photo from my dad who uses these to great effect with his strawberries.

The beach seems an unlikely source of gardening supplies but has indeed provided various assortment of useful items whilst we have either been just walking or having a bit of a clean up on it.  We have blogged before about using washed up fishing nets and seaweed in the garden but we have on occasions also found large containers on the shore.  One of the most useful was a large blue fishing crate that is now a permanent growing feature in our back garden. This year it is home to some Kale De Nero with an under planting of still growing lettuce seedlings.

Old wooden crates have also been useful for growing small amounts of lettuce leaves; kind of like a 'grow your own' veg box.  They do only last a season normally though but at least you get extra use out of them before they break down and end up in the compost bin.

Having read that slugs don't like climbing up tin cans I asked our lovely ladies in the catering department at work for any large ones.  I wouldn't advise this for slug prevention (it doesn't in fact work!) but as small free herb pots they are great.  They weather into a lovely rusty brown too.

There are people out there who are far more inventive and prolific in re-purposing items for garden containers.  I've seen wellington boots, sinks, tyres, teapots, hats and even toilets; to name but a few.  I think the name of the game is to just think outside the box.  Use the space you have to grow things 'to the max' and use what you have to hand. The answer doesn't always mean an expensive trip to the garden centre. 

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