Re-useful #6: £1 pvc dome umbrellas

Ok, so this is not strictly a recycle post, but it is both a repurpose and a budget alternative. I have been unable to find any pop-up cloches for my garden for under £6. I do use cut off bottles, but they just aren’t big enough for many of my plants which could use some little protection from the elements this winter…

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I picked three of these cheap, clear umbrellas up in a pound shop in Leamington (and I’ve seen them in the 99p Store in Shirley too). I used a hammer to crack the plastic handle, which slid off easily once split, and then used the metal handle to secure them into the soil. I’ve had no problems with wayward wanderers thus far, even in our recent gale-force winds! I’ll certainly be going back for a few more!

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Re-useful #5: pallet project the third

I knew that I needed to build some planters for my saffron crocus corms, and had seen a few different pallet planters on pinterest that had given me a some ideas.The pallets I received were all different sizes and designs, so the first thing I did was to sort them into piles according to their type. This informed my final designs.

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I decided to use the heaviest pallets with curved edges for my planters. They looked like this:

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First thing I did was to cut out the middle section:

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Set that aside for later. Now, use plates to fasten the two end pieces together. I used rectangles on either end, and corners on the middle centre, two each top and bottom:

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Now attach your lining. I tried two different styles here, one hessian sacking, the other landscaping fabric I dug up from my allotment. I prefer the landscaping fabric overall, as the hessian doesn’t seem particularly sturdy.

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You can use whatever you have to hand here – small screws, nails or upholstery tacks, or easiest of all, a staple gun if you have one! I don’t, so used a combination of screws and nails, as came to hand!

Now go back to that middle bit and cut away two of the crossbars. You can measure and cut these to size, or do as I did, attach first and saw to size afterwards for a perfect fit!

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Use long screws to attach these to the top-most ends. These should trap your lining as well as making the whole structure sturdier.

Now, the rest is optional, but I added additional structure into the ends of my last planter:

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I also used a couple of old leather belts to make handles on each end, as these will be easier to move to the front gates once they are in bloom!

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Then I used the stencil font on word to print out the words SAFFRON CROCUS onto plain paper. I attached a couple of strips of wide double-sided tape to the back before using my exacto knife to cut them out:

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 This made it especially easy to spray paint the planters, as the double-sided tape adhered to the wood.

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And there you have it! Oh, and that leftover piece from the middle? Ideal for raising plan pots off the ground to deter slugs and protect a little from ground frosts.

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Re-useful #4: old banana skins & egg shells

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Of course, you can just add these to the compost too. We eat a LOT of bananas in this house – a LOT – so we have plenty of skins. I put these on a tray in the bottom of the oven, allowing them to air dry until I bake something, then heat dry for the rest. Then I grind them in a coffee grinder, with any (washed, dry) egg shells and last year’s red clover harvest (as it turned out, I didn’t like it as tea!). Store the mixture in an old antibacterial wipes container, sprinkling a good handful in the hole before planting out plants, or mixing through my own compost to boost it. I’ve also occasionally dissolved a spoonful in the watering can to give the plants a kick!

Re-useful #3: pallet project the second

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My second pallet project was another very simple no-brainer. Simply cutting half of the pallet off left me with a much-needed outdoor welly stand. Taking out the second rung from the bottom allowed me to fill the bottom with some chard seedlings I’m hoping will take before winter kicks in. This will look great too come spring, when I replace these with daffs/tulips!

Re-useful #1: “effervescent multi-vitamin” (Berocca) containers

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to find secondary uses for as much of my household waste as possible, and thought I would invite you to join me on my journey. My first entry in this new series is about the humble Berocca tube.

I had planned on using these to store seeds saved from my garden, but my reading suggests paper envelopes are a better choice. They are, however, perfect for storing dried herbs to use over winter once the fresh herbs are dormant. I have more than enough for this.

This week’s scorching weather has seen me offering the boys a daily dose of home-made lollipop. I usually make these from fresh fruit puree or leftover smoothies, and often wish I had another set of moulds to make some for myself…

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Enter the Berocca tube. Simply fill with your flavour of choice, wrap a lollipop stick with a bit of foil or clingfilm and insert into the top of the tube, wrapping the foil/clingfilm around the top so that the stick “sticks” out. Stand in your freezer until frozen, then store in a ice-cream tub or freezer bag for hot sunny days!