The cold month of February is the time to start seeds, and to start preparing planters for your container plants. Building cute and functional planters is a way to make the best of chilly days spent indoors. Whether you are planting annuals in a window box, or vegetables in a vertical garden, there are so many awesome ways to make cheap, environmentally friendly planters that don't require you to be a professional carpenter in order to make them.
For totally low budget planters, think old two liter soda bottles or plastic milk jugs. Large plastic bottles or jugs can simply be washed thoroughly and cut in half. Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, and fill with potting soil. This is a super cheap DIY planter solution, although it is not perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing. An advantage to it is that it's easy to hang upcycled plastic bottle or jug planters from railings. Urban gardeners, who only have access to a fire escape, can utilize the outer and inner sides of their fire escape raiings by affixing these planters at alternating heights, to essentially make a vertical garden.
Pickle buckets are awesome as DIY planters. Grocery stores and restaurants receive bulk pickles in four or five gallon buckets. Sometimes they return them to the distributor, but sometimes they throw the pickle buckets out. When in doubt as to whether a stack of pickle buckets behind a store or cafe is waiting to be picked up by the garbage collector or the distributor, do the right thing and ask the store's manager. When you are sure that the pickle buckets are destined for the dump or the recycling facility, then grab a few and use them as planters. You can make self-watering planters from pickle buckets, or you can drill drainage holes into the bottoms. You can grow quite a lot of food in a pickle bucket.
Large cans are another awesome free DIY planter idea. While small supermarket-sized vegetable cans don't have enough room for a plant with a substantial root ball to grow, industrial sized cans are a sure bet. Check the garbage (dumpster diving!) of cafes. If you are on friendly terms with your office cafeteria workers, or your local barista, or the waitress at your local diner, don't be afraid to ask them for large cans from the kitchen. They very well might be able to locate a few that are headed to the garbage. Poke drainage holes into the bottom of the can with a hammer and a nail. Smaller cans are great for starting seedlings or small transplants in.
Not everyone has one of these hanging around, but they're perfect containers for a garden. Large troughs or barrels give you plenty of room to plant bigger crops. Scour yard sales and local flea markets for plastic, wood, or galvanized metal tubs. Planting in troughs is an excellent way to grow pounds of food in a tiny garden.
You can also make a hanging planter from an old tire. If you're handy, do as blogger Pamela, a DIY painter in Schenectady, from Pink Hammers and Sippy Cups did. The project involves cleaning, cutting, and painting an old tire. The result is a sturdy planter that looks a bit like a flower. It can be suspended as a hanging planter, or it can be placed on the ground.
Related gardening stories on MNN:
- How to install a front yard vegetable garden
- Indoor gardening kits: Hiber-nation '13
- It's seed catalog season: Explore, but don't buy too much