We’ve all heard about throwing our food and yard waste into the compost heap to reduce landfill waste and protect the environment. But did you know there’s a variety of other uses in your garden for things that you might consider “trash.”
In the 3 Rs of a greener planet – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Reuse comes before recycling, meaning you should make your trash do double duty before finally giving it to the recycling bin. Here’s just a few ways you can trash your garden and create a greener environment:
Don’t throw your newspaper in the recycling bin! Use it as a weed killer instead. Use a few sheets (about 3-4 sheet thickness) around plants and over garden areas where you don’t want weeds to grow. Add mulch on top. While the newspaper effectively blocks sunlight, preventing weed seeds from germinating, it will also naturally decompose after your gardening season.
Recycling cardboard boxes is nice, but you can reuse them to create a weed free garden path. Cover a walkway area with cardboard (plain brown cardboard, nothing with fancy finishes or glossy applications) and add plenty of rock or mulch on top. Once again, the heavy cardboard will prevent weed growth, but will also naturally decompose over time, allowing you to possibly reconfigure your garden plan without too much fuss.
Shred your bills and other paper junk mail and place under your mulch layer for extra weed preventing power.
Styrofoam peanuts can be added to the bottom of pots where a plant’s roots will unlikely reach the soil. Fill a pot with styrofoam peanuts (wouldn’t suggest doing this with edible plants) up to the point where you expect the root system will reach, and then fill the rest of the way with soil, making sure the plants have plenty of soil available to them.
A dryer sheet or ripped pantyhose prevents soil from washing away through the drainage holes of pots. Simply add the material over the pot hole and plant as usual.
Of course, you can always add food amendments to the garden without first composting. Eggshells (rinsed and crushed) add nutrients around roses, while banana peels (cut up in small pieces) add nutrients when buried just under the soil surface. And coffee grounds and used tea leaves (from home or a coffee shop) make great soil amendments around your acid loving plants.