Be as creative as you like in designing your garden, and make some interesting and beautiful things to get it growing.
A compost bin from a broken wheelie bin. Turn bin upside down and cut off the base with a hacksaw, which then becomes a lid. A compost bin can be made with a 2m length of chicken wire formed into a circle, and held in place with a couple of stakes, or bays made with pallets and star pickets.
Bamboo tipi for climbing plants. Shove three 2-3m lengths of bamboo or cane in the ground, forming a triangle about a metre wide, and tie them together at the top. For climbing things like tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and ceylon spinach. Cane shouldn’t be too hard to find around the neighbourhood, it often grows along creeks. Bamboo is stronger, but not as common around Adelaide. Bamboo can become invasive, so by harvesting from clumps that are growing on public land we can stop it from spreading, but also keep it as a renewable resource for everyone to use.
Worm farm. An insulated polystyrene box with a lid works well. Poke a hole in one corner for the liquid to drain out, and place a container under the hole to collect the liquid fertiliser. A put a couple of rocks inside to stop it from blowing over, and a rock on the lid. Keep in a shady place. At a previous house I’ve used a broken refrigerator lying on its back, with a hole drilled in a corner. A bathtub is good for large scale wormfarming. Another creative worm farm idea I’ve seen (in a great book called Food Not Lawns) is a chest of drawers with holes drilled in the base of the drawers, for a three storey worm apartment. I’ve seen wheelie bins made into wormfarms, they could be used for bokashi as well. The infrastructure would be the same as for the composting toilet (see chapter on compost toilet).
Trellises. My garden has bamboo, pruned tree branches, bicycle wheels, and a broken clothesline leaning against fences and walls for climbing plants. Other options are gates, bedheads, trampoline frame, and probably all manner of other things that can be found on hard rubbish day. We’ve considered growing melons up a trellis and hanging each melon in a bra for extra support. I got some large bras from an op-shop dumpster for the purpose.
Plant pots. Anything in your recycling bin. Plastic bottles cut in half, milk and juice cartons, tins, or buckets for larger plants. Plant labels can be cut from plastic bottles.
Organic liquid fertiliser can be made from free stuff around the neighbourhood. All you need is a plastic bucket with a lid. Restaurants, bakeries and takeaways are a good source of buckets with lids, they get products like sauce, yoghurt and mayonnaise in them and don’t reuse them. Or if you want to make large batches, green waste bins can be put to good use. Fill the bucket/bin with whatever organic matter you can find: weeds, seaweed, fish, bird manure (there’s always piles of pigeon manure under bridges, very easy to harvest), cow or horse manure, herbs like comfrey, nettle, yarrow or tansy. Cover with water to fill the bucket and leave it sealed to ferment. It can get stinky, but the smell disappears after a few weeks, which is probably a good time to put it out on the garden. Your soil and plants will love it.
Rainwater collection. Wheelie bin (if it’s not for drinking) or pickle barrel. Winebarrels sound like a good idea, but because the timber expands and contracts they don’t deal with changing water levels.
Pond. how about… the bottom half of a wheelie bin. Or a bathtub. Or use a canvas banner as a lining for an in ground pond.
Cold frame. A mini-greenhouse for raising seedlings in winter and early spring. It consists of nothing more than a sheet of glass or clear plastic above the seedling tray. It can be used as a solar food dryer in the summer.
Shadehouse nursery. There’s always plenty of shadecloth to be found around the place, it doesn’t take much to make a structure to shade the summer seedlings. Window screens and screen doors can also be adapted to this end.
Chookhouse. Be creative. Use whatever’s around. I’m sure you could work a wheelie bin into it somehow.
heelie bins aren’t the most attractive objects around, but with a bit of paint and inspiration they could become a lot more interesting and individual.
- How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.
- Nature, economics and the free life.
- Get moving.
- Human powered.
- Grow food.
- Garden things to make.
- Make your own waterless toilet.