flower buckets, mushroom cartons and noodle pots.

My greatest triumph is a large perennial and evergreen garden (grown from cuttings and gathered seeds) that is sitting looking lovely in flower buckets on my brick-paved driveway - and it cost me nothing at all! I have limited mobility which has brought me to focus on growing things in containers - it's not ideal but it helps eliminate jobs that involve digging, heaving, lifting, carrying and all that. I have also planted lots of native trees and plants by growing them in this manner before planting them out in the wild.

For both starting plants and add-hock boarders I use the large mushroom cartons - the ones that Supermarkets and Greengrocers use for loose mushrooms and other vegetable displays and then throw in the skip. They come in two convenient sizes. The small one is great as a seed tray, the larger one can be used for growing salad, herbs, larger cuttings, or even as temporary flower border. To make a boarder I line them up and put a nicely aged plank up in front of the row to cover the plastic containers. You have to do two simple jobs before you can use them. First, you have to drill holes in the bottom. I get my biggest drill bit, stack the trays inside one another - you can do as many as five at a time without splitting them - and then drill lots of holes in the bottom. Don't put too much pressure or weight on the drill or you will split them. Second you have to block the holes in the sides. This can be done by wrapping a strip of masking tape around them. What ever tape you use must go all the way around at least once with an overlap. Because the cartons are a moulded shape you stick it to the protruding areas, leaving it stretched across the recesses. All the holes are in protruding areas on these cartons, so they are all blocked off nonetheless. You can, alternatively, thread a strip or of plastic or polythene through the holes, back and fourth in the manner of weaving, until the two ends can be tied together. Always put the holes in the bottom before blocking the ones in the sides, because they don't stack for drilling once the tape or plastic has been added.

If you are lucky you might find a supermarket that throws out all it's used flower buckets. Again, these need holes drilled in the bottom. It is best to drill them one at a time, because you have to start fairly gently in order not to split the bottom of the bucket as you drill. You will soon get the hang of it though. I usually put twelve holes in the bottom of each bucket, but this can be varied depending upon how much drainage the plant needs. These buckets are almost indistinguishable from the big flower pots that cost so much once they are planted up, and being of regular colour (grey or black) and sizes (there are three that I have seen, small, medium and extra deep - for small trees) they look ever-so smart all in a group.

Noodle and soup pots are great for small and young plants, though you might like to put a quick coat of outdoor or gloss paint over them if they are to look good, or if they are transparent. An inverted transparent pot is very good for a mini-cloche if you put a quick strip of tape around to hold the pot and cloche together. If the pots are painted bright colours and you use electrical tape of contrasting colours to fix on the upturned, transparent pot, you end up with something that really looks the business, and will sit well in a row on a sunny windowsill waiting for your seedlings to sprout. I sometimes use a very light coating of an inexpensive metallic spray on the outside of noodle pots, and it looks brilliant!

If you don't like using an electric drill, you might invest in a carpenters hand drill, or, heat a poker in a garden fire and melt holes in the bottom of whatever type of plastic container you are using (avoiding breathing  any fumes of course). I have done this with quite brit


  • DinahDinah Posts: 273
    <p style="margin-bottom: 0cm;">Part 2 continued: I have done this with quite brittle or fragile plastic, like small pre-packed veritable pots etc. Again it is most effective if you collect a lot of the same and stack them, so that the poker goes through multiple layers for quickness.

    Hope this helps those - like me - who aspire to skimp.

  • Hello Dinah,

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas with us. I especially like the idea of your border of mushroom cartons. It would be great to see some photos if you could post them on the site. I hope you enjoy the new growing season,


    gardenersworld.com team

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 2,914
    Some great ideas, my cousin used to work for a large well known supermarket, used the polystyrene containers they used or fish etc, to sow tender stuff in his greenhouse.  Course, thinking about saving plastic/planet, by making my own paper pots next year, BUT then of course would have to dispose of the plastic pots I already have! When you buy a new plant, it iniventably comes in a plastic pot.  My oldest son, takes a protein suppliment thing, I use the tubs, bit smaller than your florists buckets, for growing courgettes, cucumbers,had one "forcing" the rhubarb, but, thats now too small.I use the transparent bowl shaped pots that salad come in as a propogater "lid" starting off some of my seedlings.  Last year I potted on my tomatos I had such a ridiculous germinated! into white plastic (sorry!) cups, I didnt bother making drainage holes, but watered sparingly.  I dont worry about paiting anything to look pretty, perhaps you and I are related to Bob Flowerdew haha!
  • I have used some of the larger yoghurt pots,and the plastic cress containers. Ice cream boxes came in handy for the sweet peas as the are deep,and the lids used for trays to stand them on.As I'm starting again from scratch it's saved a few bob!
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
  • My main recycling thing is using compost sacks, turned inside out, tops rolled down, drainage holes made with scissors, standing in washing up bowls, as pots to grow my tomatoes and cucumbers in. The sides can be unrolled as extra compost is added and also act as handles if they need to be moved.
  • PurplerainPurplerain Posts: 963
    I find a hot knife melts through the plastic flower buckets quite well.

    I use them a lot, but just recently they have been missing from their usual place under the flower tables. I wonder if the supermarkets have been told to recycle them. I will miss them if the've gone.
    SW Scotland
  • DinahDinah Posts: 273
    edited April 2018
    I have taken the ideas on this thread on board, and am now looking out for large tough plastic bags, plastic cups, polistyrene trays, etc. (all mentioned above - thank you all!) when I go into town, or if I am pulling things out from the roadside hedge :)
    I use the transparent bowl shaped pots that salad come in as a propogater "lid" starting off some of my seedlings. 
    I bet there are lots of clear plastic supermarket packaging items that could be used in this way. good idea!

    Recently I've been using discarded plastic drinks bottles that I cut the top and bottom off, putting a staple in the top to keep the soil in turned upside down. I'm hoping these will be the last when they bring in the bottle deposit schemes - but these are tall enough to give peas a good start. Milk cartons have been very usefull for growing beans.
    I'm also standing my pots in old bread creats, and small trays in them too to stratify fruit tree seeds to stop them blowing around outside. A deep creat makes a decent cold frame too, if you tightly tie a sheet of recycled polithene over the top.

    Like others mentioned on this thread I have stoped bothering to paint pots etc. since they look good enough for their use without. I've found that I tend to look at the plant, not the pot when surveying the windowsill! :D

    Many thanks for the valued contributions!
  • DinahDinah Posts: 273
    edited April 2018
    Oh, and Cagzo, is the ice-cream carton you're using for the sweet peas the cylindrical or the squair ones?  At one time they were very thick so long lasting as pots - I suppose because they have to go in the freezer. I haven't seen any of the cylidrical ones for ages in our shops over here - do they still do them where you are?
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