Gardening with Repuposed Materials

It seems like I've been waiting all spring for the rain to stop. Finally! The soggy ground here in Kentucky has dried up enough to get out and play the dirt. I've had several (failed) attempts at starting my own backyard garden over the years, but this year will be different. Besides the healthy grub, and helping reduce our carbon footprint- I'm excited for my boys to learn first hand where their food comes from. More and more families are starting to 'grow your own' and I want to share a few ways you can repurpose in the garden.

Start Your Seeds Indoors Using Repurposed Containers

  • Cardboard egg cartons

    Simply fill them with soil, plant your seeds.  When it is planting time, cut the individual “egg cups” apart and plant the whole thing into the prepared hole.  The cardboard will eventually decompose and hold valuable moisture around your plant.
  • Toilet paper/paper towel rolls

    Cut the rolls into rings 3-4 inches tall.  Place them on a cookie sheet, fill them with dirt and plant your seeds.  When you are ready to transplant the seedlings, use a spatula to lift them off the cookie sheet and into the garden.
  • Newspapers

    Make your own small seedling pots out of newspaper using a tin can or glass jar.  Dave’s Garden has a great Youtube tutorial that will show you how.
  • Clear plastic fruit containers

  • These containers act like mini green houses and are my kids’ favorites for starting seeds.  Simply fill the container full of soil and sow your seeds.  No need to poke holes for drainage, most of these containers already have small holes in the bottom.  The smaller, shallow containers can hold around 4 plants and the larger ones can hold 6 or so plants.  When it is time to transplant, gently turn the soil out near the prepared hole and plant.
  • Dixie cups, tin cans and yogurt containers

  • These all work well for single plants with large root systems like tomatoes or peppers.

 Go on and grow.

Where will your seedlings go once they are up and growing?

Starting From Scratch

If you are turning part of your lawn into garden area, newspapers and brown paper sacks are your friends for “no-till” garden beds. To create a new planting area without the work of digging, just mow the area as short as you can.  Then spread the area with 6-10 layers of newspaper or brown paper bags.  Top it with enough compost or soil to hold the paper in place.
Over the next few months, the paper will smother the weeds and grass below and decay into the soil. You now have a pristine planting bed ready to receive your veggie seedlings when it is time.


You can plant almost anything in pots or containers.  And almost any container can be used as a planter (as long as you drill drainage holes in the bottom first). If you will be planting in pots or containers, you can use packing pellets, newspaper, pine cones or other material in the bottom of your pots to save soil and make your pots lighter and easier to move around.

Raised Beds

By building your garden up instead of down, you are able to control weeds, prevent soil compaction, and provide good drainage.

You can use almost any repurposed material for the sides of your raised beds.

If you need more information on when to begin your seeds and when to transplant them, You Grow Girl has a great Seed Start Chart to download.  You simply put in your area’s last frost date and the spreadsheet calculates the dates to sow seeds indoors and the date to transplant them out into your garden.

Find out how reusing your coffee can benefit your garden from last months trashn2tees blog. post, Reuse Your Coffee
Exerpts from this original post at

Let's discuss our gardens.. or gardening attempts...   I certainly have zero expertise in this area but if you have a question feel free to ask and I'll be certain to find someone who can help.


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