Use everyday items in the garden in unexpected ways

Put these round-the-house items to unexpected use in the garden and yield great results!

Use everyday items in the garden in unexpected ways

Turn a kiddie pool into a garden pond

Think it's too expensive to install a small decorative pond in the corner of your lawn? Not if your liner is a child's plastic wading pool. Here's how.

  1. To start, dig a hole to the depth and diameter of the kiddie pool, making sure the pool sits flat on the bottom of the hole and its top is level with the lawn.
  2. To allow drainage during heavy rains, punch holes in the sides of the pool.
  3. Position the pool in the hole and pack dirt around the sides.
  4. Layer the bottom of the pool with a 50/50 mixture of coarse sand and peat moss.
  5. Place flat stones around the top edge to camouflage the pool's plastic lip.
  6. After using a garden hose to fill the pond, set pots of water plants inside — marsh marigolds, water lilies, royal ferns and the like. Your pretty new garden feature is complete.

Turn a soda bottle into a rain gauge

A large plastic soda bottle, preferably the kind without a black plastic base, may not be the spiffiest-looking rain gauge in the world, but it's cheap and it works. Here's how to make it.

  1. Cut off the top third of the bottle, turn the top upside down and fit it into the larger piece to act as a funnel.
  2. Use waterproof tape to attach the pieces together at the rim.
  3. Lay the bottle on its side and use a ruler and indelible marker to mark off lines six centimetres (0.25 inch) apart.
  4. Set the gauge in an open area in the yard when you expect rain, then check to see how high the water rises. Use this as a clue as to how long to hold off on watering plants.

Turn a PVC pipe into a root vegetable stake

To prevent horseradish and heirloom varieties of carrots and parsnips from forking or getting bent out of shape, grow them in PVC pipe sections placed vertically in the ground and filled with rich soil and humus.

Use newspaper to make onion beds

Here's some headline news: One of the easiest ways to grow healthy onions is through newspaper mulch. Why? Because onion stalks cast a very slim shadow at best, letting in the sunlight that will sprout weed seeds. A lights-out mat of newspapers will stop sprouters short. Here's how to make one.

  1. In early spring, wet the soil of the onion patch. Then spread three or four sections of newspapers over the area, hosing down each one.
  2. With one or two fingers, punch holes about 12.5–15 centimetres (five–six inches) apart through the wet mat and place an onion set within each.
  3. Firm moist soil around the sets and cover the mat with shredded leaves and grass clippings. Weeds won't stand a chance as your onions grow and thrive.

Use tires to make a potato garden

Increase your potato yield by growing potatoes in a stack of tires.

  1. Fill a tire with soil and plant two whole or halved seed potatoes about five centimetres (two inches) deep.
  2. Once the potatoes have sprouted 15–25 centimetres (six–10 inches) of foliage, place a second tire atop the first and fill with more soil, leaving 7.5–10 centimetres (three–four inches) of foliage exposed.
  3. Repeat the process again, and your three-tire tower will triple your potato crop.

Potatoes sprout on the underground stems — and the taller the stems, the greater the number of tasty tubers.

Your neighbours will be impressed with your ingenuity when you use these everyday items in your garden in unexpected — but amazing — ways.

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