It’s ironic to think we can contain creativity but with gardening, it’s perfectly possible. Finding some old containers lying around, like the children’s gum boots that don’t fit them anymore or even the tin cans that were emptied while making last night’s supper, is really not a tough task. Recycling, gardening and teaching the children about plants all in one fowl swoop. What more could you ask for?
What you’ll need:
- Creative containers, preferably things you can find around the home that can be recycled – we are using old gumboots and tin cans
- Plants of your choice
- Small pebbles
- Potting soil (Look for a potting mix that includes fertilisers)
- Nail and hammer to make holes in your containers
- Sticky labels and crayons
Visit your local garden centre to choose your plants and pick up some potting soil and small pebbles. Remember that soil from your garden will not work for potted plants. You need something loose and light.
Annuals and herbs work well in containers because they don’t tend to get too big but don’t be shy, enquire with the staff on duty and you’ll be surprised at the variety available to you. We used vygies, salvia and alyssum in our old gum boots and parsley, chives and coriander for our tin cans.
Make a few holes in the bottom of your containers for drainage. If you need to use a hammer and nails, like we did, it’s probably best to get the adults to do this step.
Remember, if there is insufficient drainage the water will dam up in the bottom of the container and the roots of the plant will not be able to breathe.
Put a 1-2cm thick layer of small pebbles in the bottom of your containers, and then fill them to roughly 4-5cm from the top with potting soil. Press down firmly to compact the soil to ensure the soil level won’t drop at a later stage.
Tip: Try and ensure the potting soil includes peat moss and other organic matter. Some potting soils even come with slow-release fertilisers, which will cut down on your initial maintenance.
Make a small hole in the soil for your seedling, place it in, add a little extra soil and push down firmly but gently around the base. The top of the soil around the plant should sit approximately 1-2 cm below the rim of the container to allow space for watering. If it is sitting too high, remove some of the potting soil beneath it.
If your container is big enough, plant more seedlings in the same way, but be sure to check the planting instructions so that you don’t overcrowd your container.
Now you can just get creative! Unpack the crayons and sticky labels and make some colourful labels for your containers so that you know what is what, especially the herbs, since all those green leaves look the same to children!
Give your containers a good watering and then find a nice home for them. We put our gumboots on the walkway to the front door of the house and the herbs on the windowsill in the kitchen.
Top-Tip: You should use a drip tray to collect any water from your herb containers if you’re keeping them indoors, unless you enjoy mopping up the counters.