Talking Rubbish Blog

Every week we read about another school or community group ready to get a garden going. Wonderful news! We all know the value of eating fresh veges and fruit, keeping the ‘travel miles’ down, encouraging us all to like those greens.
What does make me sad is the wasted opportunity to show how we can make these gardens, including the soil and much of the infrastructure, out of ‘waste’ materials.

Where is the lesson for us when the raised beds are made out of new corrugated iron, the soil is prepared and trucked in, and the plants are all bought as seedlings?
The soil and garden beds can all be made by reusing common waste materials.

Compost bays, mulch piles and large worm farms help us to enrich the soil yet where they are housed is the afterthought, the problem location. When we see what makes up the soil we become empowered to use the knowledge elsewhere. 

This is a real example of ’closing the loop’.  Where is the lesson if it is all done for us? How can the beautiful garden be used as a teaching tool by people just coming to look for ideas when it all costs so much money!
How ironic is the process of massive pruning put on the verge to be taken to be mulched to be bagged and sold back to us to mulch our plants so they grow better so we can prune them again…

Our homes, workplaces, schools and leisure sites are churning out useful ‘waste’ continually and if we can learn how to utilise this waste ourselves, immediately there will be local benefits. 

Why don’t we use the monies we have available for establishing garden spaces to install efficient watering options, reticulation, tanks and pumps etc and only purchase items when we have exhausted all other recycling options? 

Do you have interesting ideas about how to reuse waste products? Is it just too hard to reduce, reuse and recycle in our in our time poor society?

18 Apr 2011 9:00 AM  /  Peg Davies  / gardens, recycle, reduce, reuse, waste  /  5 comments


I had mine built with 2 6 but I had them made 4ft x 6ft. I have used them now for 5 years and love gardening this way. I have more control over the weeds and I don't seem to get as many pests. But my favorite part about these beds is the fact that I can actually plant at least one month before everyone else does because if I watch the weather report I know if I need to go out and cover the beds with plastic over night. These beds protect your seedlings from the wind too. I keep sheets of plastic like a paint drop cloth rolled up at the end of each bed if I need to cover I just pull the plastic over the bed and secure it with dirt or rocks. I doubt I will ever garden any other way again.Hope this helps. Enjoy


And I thought I was the sensible one. Thanks for setting me straight.


Making your own soil is fun and easy! Save up all your weekly newspaper, grass clipping, brush up dirt and leaves from your driveway, save up coffee grounds and teabags. Wet all items and layer them out in a pile. No need to purchase compost bin or use compost bays. Even better do this next to your fruit tree, nutrients leached out from the pile will be utilised by the tree. If your family wants to enjoy fresh chemical free vegies, best is to grow your own. Otherwise, you can buy organic produce, but it never beats the freshness from your own garden.


Just a tip! Recycled 2 or 3 litre milk bottles make great watering cans with a few holes punched into the lid. Each child at our school now has their own watering can without having to spend a cent!


I think the problem is people just haven't 'thought' about re-using their waste products for other projects in this way. People get wrapped up in the consumerism of it all and go out and 'buy' everything they need to do something sustainable. Putting the idea in peoples heads, that hey, that old log would make a great garden wall is really a pivotal step. People just need to start thinking outside of all this 'buying' and more towards other creative ways they could obtain what they need. Overall a greater sense of accomplishment can be achieved when we can make use of some of the amazing things that get thrown out!

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