Green, Vegetable Garden

Growing Vegetables in Junk Containers

March 1, 2015

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Junk

Are you a hoarder? Do you have a regular de-clutter or are your cupboards bulging with ‘stuff’ that you might need one day? I felt like I’d grown up when the dustmen finally added our address to their round and could take away all the recycling that used to fill our sheds, but we seem to have replaced the empty space with junk.

Mr G and I are shocking hoarders, partly because we have sheds that we can move all the toot into once it’s no longer needed indoors and partly because we might need it one day. While I’ve always been fairly good at giving away clothes that our children have grown out of, I’m afraid toys and other junk are another matter. Despite our youngest approaching her twelfth birthday, we still have Telly Tubbies and Tweenies in boxes waiting to be sorted and sold and I’m sure I spotted a Thomas the Tank Engine ticket office buried deeply out there when I was looking for seed trays recently.

During the New Year festivities we were making plans for the months ahead and decluttering was high up on the list. There must be a child somewhere that would love a little playhouse of their own and maybe if the Tree Change Dolls woman wasn’t so far away she might like to turn a Bratz party bus into a camper van for her growing collection of fabulous revamped, au naturel dolls?

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Junk

Not just talking the talk

With the promise of spring I’ve stuck my head into the potting shed once again which I’m now sharing with the stack of ‘temporary’  boxes of stuff. Last year I ran a six-week course funded by Local Agenda 21 Partnership funding for the local Irish Wheelchair group, Growing Vegetables in Recycled Containers where the group were encouraged to look at their rubbish a bit differently. If it once contained something, could it be used again to hold compost and grow food in?

Grow Your Own Vegetables in Junk

I showed the group my Pinterest board that contains a few ideas and fair play, they got creative. They weren’t convinced they would like to eat food out of a container that had once held a pair of smelly feet, so we opted to pop some companion plants into the boots, and the jeans were a genius piece of fun and talking point. I’d love to have seen them in full bloom.

Grow Your Own Vegetables in JunkSome of the ideas we’d seen online and wanted to see if they worked, like the milk container that could be turned into a watering can or a compost scoop, both of which worked brilliantly. The 2 lt drink bottles were pretty cool too once washed, labels removed, drainage holes made and filled with seedlings instead of their previously unhealthy occupiers.

Grow Your Own Vegetables in JunkI’m due to do a couple of talks about growing vegetables in recycled containers in the coming months. One live streamed around the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency and another at the Rothe House Garden Festival in Kilkenny in June.

With these two events on the horizon I’ll be looking through the containers in the shed to see if there’s anything in there that I can take along. As long as drainage holes can be made in a container, we can pretty much use anything to grow food or flowers in it, toxic materials excepting.

Growing food in junk is a great way of beginning to grow your own vegetables. If you’re worried about the initial outlay of pots, compost, seeds, tools etc., immediately you’ve eliminated one of the costs and once you begin, it makes you much more aware of all the packaging our ‘stuff’ comes in and you may find yourself trying to reduce it as a result.

If you’d like some more tips about growing vegetables in containers of any description, check out this article.

Are you a hoarder or are you super efficient with your old junk? Have you any tips to help someone like me who can’t throw anything away?



  • Reply flowerpowerlife March 1, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Whilst I do start off my runner beans in loo rolls, I’m pretty good at chucking other stuff away. I donate any clothes that are good quality to the charity shop and give away 95% of novels once I’ve read them. Bits of boxes and card go in the compost, as do the usual scraps, egg boxes and teabags. The shed is another matter – I can’t stop my husband from saving things just in case!

    • Reply Dee Sewell March 1, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      It’s some habit isn’t it! Well done on giving so much away – I still have books I read as a teen and am not sure if I’d ever be able to give them up though beginning to think I should make an effort. It is, afterall, just material goods and I probably wouldn’t notice if it went and if I did, would soon find an alternative 🙂

  • Reply Lorna March 3, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Those jeans look good! Love the idea of planting in things like those plastic bottles and yes, I like the boots too.
    I’m a hoarder too, esp with books. The school is having a book sale again and I will have a look through and donate some but when I look at a book, even if I haven’t read it for ten years, I remember where I was when I read it and how I felt etc.

    • Reply Dee Sewell March 3, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      I wished I’d ask for photos or called back when they were in full bloom Lorna 🙂 Books are my worst, exactly for the reason you mentioned plus I enjoy re-reading them occasionally. Good luck with the book sale sorting!

  • Reply Amanda Webb March 4, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Great suggestions Dee, and a good post for anyone who thinks they need to buy loads of stuff to start gardening 🙂 Also love the jeans.

    • Reply Dee Sewell March 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

      When we started growing our own veg here we were on a massive budget so had to be inventive. Being environmentally conscious usually means saving money too so it’s a win win generally 🙂

  • Reply How to Grow Vegetables in ContainersGreenside Up June 8, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    […] Almost all vegetables can be grown in containers – as few or as many as suits your lifestyle and if they’re recycled pots, all the better. […]

  • Reply Garden Hacks from the Greenside Up Kitchen Garden - Gardening Blog March 22, 2020 at 12:47 am

    […] Growing Vegetables in Junk Containers […]

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