Plastic bottles are everywhere these days and most of them are recyclable and that's a good thing. But it still requires a lot of energy to collect, sort and recycle those plastic bottles. Here are 6 easy ways to re-use plastic bottles in the garden that will benefit both the gardener and the environment.
1. Self Watering Plant Pots
Drill a hole in the bottle cap for a water-wick. This can be made from any absorbent material, such as a rolled-up absorbent kitchen towel. Cut the plastic bottle in half and invert the neck section. Insert the wick through the hole in the cap and fit this section into the bottom section of the bottle. Half fill the bottom section with water. You can also add diluted plant food to feed the plant. The top section can be filled with potting mix. As you fill the top section, ensure that the wick is centred and reaches at least 3/4 of the way up, to ensure good even watering. Plant a seed or seedling and sit the pot in a sunny, sheltered position. These pots are great for getting seedlings started indoors for later transplanting into the garden.
2. Plastic Bottle Cloche
If you have a problem with cut-worms, slugs, snails or other animals eating your new seedlings, a simple plant guard can be made by cutting the top and bottom off of a plastic bottle to make a protective sleeve or collar that can be sat over the emerging seedling. If you have some wood ash or even sawdust, this can be lightly scattered inside the guard and will help to deter pests as well. Once the seedling is well established the guard can be removed (even if it needs to be cut off) and the plastic can go in the recycle bin.
4. Water Well
Plants benefit from deep watering as it encourages healthy root growth. Cut the bottom out of a plastic bottle and drill a hole in the cap. Bury the bottle cap down, with around 50mm (2") of the bottle exposed, alongside crops such as cucumbers, melons, squash, pumkins, etc. Depending on the size of the bottle, one or two bottles next to each plant should deliver plenty of water into the soil where the plants can use it.
5. Fruit Fly Trap
Cut the top off a plastic bottle, just below where the sides begin to straighten and remove the cap. Put a bait in the bottom part of the bottle. This can be ripe or over-ripe fruit (banana works well), vinegar or even a little red wine. Turn the neck upside down and fit it inside the base. The two parts can be taped or glued together for a good seal and a wire or string handle can be attached to hang the trap from your fruit trees. The flies are drawn into the bottle by the bait and cannot easily find the way out again. The trap can be pulled apart and cleaned or disposed of. These traps and cleaning up all fallen fruit can reduce fruit fly infestations dramatically.
6. Plastic Scoop
You can make a simple scoop for handling a range of garden jobs from potting mix to chook food. Cut a plastic bottle on an angle to make a simple plastic scoop. Plastic bottles with handles work best for this. The stiffer the bottle, the stronger the scoop.