In light of the planet’s current plastic waste crisis, many smallholders have developed innovative ways to re-use and repurpose plastic waste. Here are some examples dreamed up by Springs resident Bob Gillies in his retirement.

  • Using a used two litre cold drink bottle, you can make a very useful watering can. Simply cut a hole into the lid and glue a small piece of tube to the hole. This allows you to get to hard to reach places in your gardens, or water plants on your stoep, hanging plants or houseplants with ease. You can mix your fertilizer straight into the water to dose your plants very economically.
  • Many smallholders looking for a funnel with which to prevent spillage of fuel when filling a tractor, mower or generator will have cut the bottom off a two litre cold drink bottle, which when placed neck-first into the tank’s filler hole, is every bit as efficient as a shop-bought funnel.
  • Used pool chemical bottles or two litre plastic milk bottles can be repurposed very effectively into “poop scoops” for your pet and livestock waste. Cleaning out stables or picking up dog mess is made easy. As they already have a handle, you simply need to cut off the bottom of the bottle ~ either at an angle or straight. Once full, empty on to your compost heap or into your waste bucket.
  • After thorough cleaning, these bottles can also be used as scoops for mixing and measuring your livestock feed, or granular fertilizer or pesticides. Simply mark the insides with a permanent marker to indicate weight or volume to ensure accurate measurements.
  • The leftover bottoms of these bottles can be cut into strips to use as markers for your gardens ~ simply write the names of your seedlings or seeds with permanent marker and stick them in the ground. Using some nail varnish remover, the writing can be cleaned off and they can be reused next season.
  • You can also use the bottoms from these and other bottles (milk bottles etc) as small tubs for garden and workshop items. They are good sizes to store nails, screws, washers, elastic bands, paperclips etc in your workshop or office. Or you can use them to store hose pipe fittings and other small garden items.
  • Using yoghurt containers, or polystyrene cups for smaller plants, you can create seedling germinators.

Gillies says, “I punch a 35mm hole in the bottom and holesaw 40mm discs from leftover bits of Masonite or thin plywood. I fill them with germination mix or coco peat, and they are kept on plastic trays in a wood and clear plastic cabinet which protects them from bugs, birds, wind and dogs until they are big enough to move. Once the root can be seen at the hole in the bottom it is time to transplant. This works for all my tomato, squashes, corn, beans, spinach etc.” He says he has even had success with this method using potatoes that have begun to sprout.

This method is also a great way to get your kids involved and teach them about growing their own food ~ they can plant and tend to their own vegetables from seed to harvest, suggests Gillies.

This method allows your seedlings to form a strong root formation before planting them out, often stronger than what they can achieve in nursery seedling trays. Then, once your seedlings have been planted out into your garden, rinse the seedling pots and store them away for next season. You will not need to buy seedling trays ever again, and you are also not contributing to plastic waste by buying new trays of seedlings from nurseries every year.

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