You don’t have to pinch pennies in order to grow a successful garden.
It’s true that starting a garden can get expensive, especially if you’re always running to the store for things like seed starting containers, fertilizer, and tools.
However, there are plenty of things you can save for next year’s garden that will help you reduce your household waste while also lessening the amount of money you need to spend on creating a beautiful, productive garden.
Here are some things that would be useful to save for your next garden…
This one might be the most obvious – but most beneficial!
Whenever possible, try to save as many seeds as you can. Not only can this help you save money, since you won’t have to rely on the seed store in order to get all of your favorite vegetables, but it can help you become more self-reliant. It’s a great way to make sure you always have the variety of plants you want, too.
You typically won’t be able to save seeds from plants that have been hybridized, but anything else is usually fair game. Keep in mind that if you’re growing multiple varieties near each other, you might have some issues with cross-pollination, too – next year’s generation might not grow true to seed.
2. Milk Jugs
Milk jugs are so helpful in the garden! You can use them to start seeds or you can turn them upside down to create miniature cloches (more on this below). You can also use them to water your plants.
3. Two-Liter Soda Bottles
These plastic containers have several great uses! If you cut the bottom off, you can use them to cover seedlings like mini greenhouses (or cloches). They also protect them from frost, wind, and strong rain.
You can also use them as a slow waterer for your plants. Cut the bottom of the bottle off, and stick the open spout part of the bottle into the ground about an inch or so from the stem. Fill it with water, and it will drain straight to the plant’s roots.
You’ll never waste water around the surface of the garden, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not your plant is getting enough to drink!
4. Old Mini Blinds
There are a few different ways you can use mini blinds in the garden, but one of my favorite things to do is to make garden markers out of them. Just cut them up – one set of blinds can make hundreds of markers.
Plus, you can write on both sides with permanent markers and not have to worry about them disintegrating in the summer sun and humidity!
5. Plastic “For Sale” or “Yard Sale” Signs
These make great label stakes to put in the garden. Cut them to size, and use a permanent marker to write the name of your plants on them. You’ll never have to wonder what you’ve planted there again!
6. Tin Cans
Tin cans are hugely helpful in the garden. Depending on the size, you can use them to store gardening supplies, to start seeds, or, my personal favorite, to create a hanging herb garden! You can paint them in whatever colors suit your style and then grow all kinds of edible arrangements to enjoy. Herbs work particularly well when grown in tin cans!
7. Wine Corks and Bottles
Wine corks make cute, whimsical garden markers. All you need to do is stick a skewer in one and pop it in the ground!
Plus you can turn the bottles into planters. You can even make a self-watering planter with an old wine bottle!
8. Broken Terracotta Pots
The next time you accidentally shatter your favorite terracotta pot, don’t let it get you down. Instead, turn the shards into little garden markers.
9. Plastic Cups
Plastic cups are great for starting seeds. Like milk jugs and two-liter bottles, they can also be used as clothes.
A broken ladder is a safety hazard – we all know that! However, consider using a ladder in the garden. It makes a great trellis for your vining plants that like to sprawl!
11. Yogurt Containers
Yogurt containers, like the other containers made out of plastic that we’ve already told you about, are perfect for starting seeds indoors. Just be sure to poke holes in the bottom first!
12. Paper Towel Tubes
Paper towel tubes are also hugely helpful in the garden. These can be used to protect fragile young seedlings from pest damage.
13. Toilet Paper Tubes
Use these things to push into the soil around your young cabbage and tomato plants to protect them from cutworms.
I have a bucket of these under my sink that I’m saving for next year’s tomato plants. Collect your empty eggshells, wash them, and dry them in the sun.
When you are ready to plant your tomatoes, crush your eggshells up and sprinkle them around your plants. They give a much-needed boost of calcium, and help prevent Blossom End Rot.
You can even start seedlings inside eggshells! They’ll break down just like the toilet paper tubes.
15. Banana Peels
These can be hard to hang on to for an extended period of time, but when you happen to get them, go ahead and add them right to the garden. They add a ton of fertilizer – particularly potassium!
16. Old Boots and Shoes
Poke a few holes in the bottom and guess what? Your old boots and shoes are now planters!
17. Cardboard Egg Cartons
Great for starting seeds in!
Make your own paper pots, line your garden to keep out weeds, or shred it up and add it to your compost pile!
19. Old Nylon Stockings
What can you do with old nylon stockings or pantyhose? So much! You can use old pantyhose as a hammock to hang up heavy vegetables, like squashes or pumpkins. They can also be used to store things like onions once you’ve harvested them from the garden.
20. Scrap Fabric Strips or Old Clothing
These are useful for tying up your plants to stakes. The nylons do tend to get brittle after a while, but if you have a lot of them laying around you could simply replace the old ones when they start to break. You can also use nylons like a hammock to support heavy produce, like melons, growing vertically.
Strips of fabric, or old clothing, work really well for this too.
21. Junk CDs or DVDs
My mother in law hangs these around her garden to keep the deer away.
22. Wood Ashes (from untreated lumber)
When spread around garden beds it supposedly repels slugs and snails. Use it to raise your soil pH level. It’s also good for squash plants, as well as tomatoes (I’ve heard adding 1/4 c. of ashes directly into the hole before planting tomatoes does wonders), asparagus, onions and melons; non-acid loving plants.
23. Coffee Grounds
These are good to sprinkle around acid loving plants, like blueberries! Also good to compost.
Now, if you can only find a good place to hide all of this stuff until Spring… you’ll be glad you did!! Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear what you’re-purpose for using in your veggie garden!
Yes, tires! You can use tires in your garden as raised beds. They’ll keep weeds out and offer a fertile, protected environment for your plants to grow. The best tires to save are those from large equipment, like skidders or tractors. However, any tires will do the trick!
Don’t toss the rims, either. You can hang these on the side of your house or garage and use them as garden hose holders.
25. Old Silverware
Don’t throw out that varnished old set of spoons. Instead, hang on to it. You can use old silverware as plant markers in the garden or you can even string the pieces together to make a fun, whimsical wind chime.
26. Old Drums and Barrels
There are so many uses for old drums and barrels in the garden! Cut them in half and use them as planters – that’s my favorite idea.
You can never have too many pallets. You can use a pallet as a vertical or horizontal planter. You can cut it up and use the slats to build new raised beds or planters – or you can even use the pieces as garden markers!
28. Popsicle Sticks
Popsicle sticks and other wooden sticks and skewers should be saved whenever possible. They don’t take up very much space and you can use them as garden markers.
29. Old Drawers
When you’re refinishing or getting rid of an old dresser, don’t toss the drawers. Save them! They make great little raised beds for the garden.
Obviously, compost is something you should be working to build and save all year long! Compost, whether it’s in its solid form or as a compost tea, is super helpful in fertilizing your plants. It’s a great way to get rid of all of your kitchen scraps over the winter, too!
31. Broken Dishes
Have a few old, broken dishes that you’re thinking about throwing out? Not so fast! You have a few options as to how you can use these up.
Consider gluing together the shards to make attractive, unique-looking garden stones. You can also use the individual shards as garden markers. Old, broken tea pots can be turned into bird baths, while thrifted coffee mugs that have lost their usefulness when it comes to your morning Joe can be remade into bird suet feeders.
32. Garbage Cans
Ready to ditch that old garbage can? They make great planters – so feel free to hang on to them even if they’re cracked along the sides.
33. Old Gardening Tools and Equipment
The fall and winter months are a great time to take a look at your existing garden inventory to see if anything needs to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced.
If you have some old gear, like rakes, wheelbarrows, or shovels, lying around – don’t toss them just yet! There are a few clever ways that you can breathe new life into this kind of gear.
Take a close look at what you have. An old rake can be pressed upright into the ground to serve as a potholder – a clever and attractive way to organize your garden! Wheelbarrows can be turned into planters and shovels can be broken into pieces to be used as garden markers.
You can even turn recycled hoses into fun garden mats by wrapping them into a single dense form.
Be Creative in Finding Items for the Garden
While all of these items are easy enough to find around the house, it’s important to note that the world is your oyster in terms of keeping your garden well-stocked and growing well. Just about anything can be repurposed to breathe new life into it – and into your garden.
From turning an old mattress into a trellis for your garden or using a shower caddy as a vertical planter, don’t be afraid to flex those creative muscles. You’ll be amazed at all the new inventions you will come up with!
updated by Rebekah Pierce 07/02/2021
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.