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Container gardening sounded like a good, thrifty way to feed our family healthy organic produce, except for one thing: landscape timbers to build a raised bed, big flower pots for vegetables, and other containers are expensive! Then, my eye landed on the dozen empty kitty litter containers (Fresh Step--about the size of five-gallon jugs) I'd saved because they just seemed likely to be useful one day. A few holes in the bottom and a can of spray paint (used on the outside only) turned the whole dozen from kitty litter buckets into bright flower pots, with a total expense of less than $2!
Almost anything can be used for growing veggies when you have limited space, or in my case, need the beds raised up a bit off the ground. For potatoes, you can use burlap feed bags, wicker laundry baskets, or anything with good drainage and room to "hill-up" around the growing plants as they get taller. Peas do nicely in an old wash tub. Later, I'll add strings for them to climb.
Bonus Tip: The black plastic mesh w/rocks on top is my way of keeping the chipmunks from devouring everything I plant. When sprouts appear, I remove the mesh and surround the little plants with rocks until they are big enough to fight for themselves :)
"Necessity is the mother of invention", or as I always say, "Mothers are the inventors of necessities."
I have grown tomato plants that got over 6 foot tall. I have been using the same containers for the past 4 years. I had my husband drill some drain holes in the bottom. If you don't have a cat, ask your friends or advertise on a place like Freecycle. I see people have them offered quite often.
You can also look for any kind of container at the second hand stores. I've not only grown tomatoes but beans, peppers, greens and herbs.
By Jill from Blue Bell, PA
For going green to save our environment, I'm teaching a class soon on "Container Gardening - Thinking Outside The Box" and needed to come up with some unique ideas for containers for my plants. Some I came up with are:
I took an old metal fan apart and unscrewed the wire basket parts (had one on each side of the fan), then placed cocoa liner I'd bought inside the wire basket, and placed wire hangers on the basket to hang it, filled it with soil and planted low hanging vine plants in it for 2 nice hanging baskets.
I took an old vase with barnacles on it my family had found while snorkeling, drilled 3 holes in the bottom, put in soil and planted succulents inside.
I took an old metal teapot, drilled 3 holes in bottom, filled with soil and planted pansies in it.
These pots are unique and did not cost a dime, recycle some items and see what you can come up with for your garden this year. It is fun and they sure last longer than those ugly plastic pots you'd buy.
By Linda from Fort Walton Beach, FL