Upcycling and Recycling at the Allotment

We are all trying to be greener, reducing our carbon footprints and helping to save our planet as much as we can.

There are many ways that allotment plot holders already contribute towards being greener and as natural carers of nature and the outside world, there is a lot more we can all do as well. 

Being eco-friendly is not a new concept for the vegetable grower by any means. We have been doing it for years and years! 

We grow our own organic vegetables, reducing the impact on the environment that shop-bought produce entails. No chemicals, no supply chain, no plastic packaging... 

We create our own compost and use organic, homemade alternatives to feed and treat our plants and we recycle items that have many uses on the plot. We plant to encourage the bees and wildlife, which offer pollination and pest control in return.  Most tasks are done manually with no machinery and no energy sources.  We save seeds after harvesting to sow and even re-grow from kitchen food scraps! 

The savvy allotment grower does not waste anything and saves money in the process! More great reasons for growing your own, let's get thrifty! 

Here are some more ways that we can recycle items on the allotment: 

Plastic bottles are multi-purpose on the allotment.  You can remove the lid, cut off the bottom end and plant in the soil, top end down to help direct rainwater directly to the roots of thirsty plants.  

You can also place them top downwards on canes, which rattle in the breeze to deter birds.  They also protect you from any injury by covering the sharp end of the cane. 

They can also act as protection and offer warmth for young, vulnerable plants - like a mini cloche/greenhouse.  Cut off the bottom end and place down over the plant into the soil.  

Growers have even constructed 'greenhouses' using plastic bottles! See the photo below. 

The traditional scarecrow was always made from old clothing and straw, which is still a popular method of deterring birds and there are other ways that growers are doing this too: 

Hanging CD's, which also reflect sunlight. Hung close together they will 'chime'. 

Bunting and flags are decorative as well as flapping in the wind to deter birds. 
When it comes to planting, there are so many items that can be used for containers! From old tires to bathtubs and footballs to colanders and welly boots. A great way to get creative and put in place before the growing season gets going; or indeed any time. 

We all love a freebie or a bargain.  It is very easy to source items required if you look in the right places. From local tradesmen to charity shops and the local Recycling Centres. ‘Freegle’ and online sources like Facebook. Swaps with your allotment neighbours can be a thing too. 

Used wooden pallets are a popular choice for making compost enclosures and raised beds. They are usually going free for collection and are untreated. Pallets hung vertically on a wall can also provide more growing space. You can find out more about Vertical Growing on our other page

It's worth visiting the local tip, or Builders yard for any scrap materials for construction jobs. There are always items that local people want to get rid of that can be 'treasure' to the allotment grower.  It is well worth keeping an eye out for anybody advertising free or cheap items that you can make use of. 

Drainpipes can be put to good use too, laid flat and in half, they can be used to plant - it's an effective way of transferring peas. 

If your neighbours are having a new kitchen, bathroom, new windows or revamping the garden, they will more than likely be glad for you to take away the old, off their hands but obviously ask before you help yourself! 

For planting in containers, just ensure that the vessel being used is clean and chemical-free beforehand. You can read more about this on our Container Growing page

Egg boxes make excellent seed modules and are ideal for chitting potatoes. Infact many packaging items you find at home are handy for potting such as yoghurt pots and of course, jars for storage and for making jams and chutneys. Toilet rolls are also great for planting, they are biodegradable and can be left in the ground. Tin cans, Tupperware and take-away plastic tubs can all have many a purpose at the plot! 

Growers have even made use of the sealable plastic bags that are included in Covid testing kits. They are great for storing seeds. Do remember to label everything though! 

As a lover of the outdoors, you may have been on the odd camping trip or two. If you have an old tent kicking about, the poles and pegs really come in useful for supporting, constructing cages and pinning down netting. 

Cardboard can be saved to create No-Dig beds. You will probably find an array of other uses for it too. Big boxes after Christmas gifts are opened should be kept and flattened out if you are embarking on a No-Dig allotment. You can read more about No-Dig on our other page

Plastic laundry baskets are fabulous for planting, be sure to join in the Laundry Basket Challenge on Dean's Back Garden Veg Plot

When we set our minds to it, the scope for recycling at the plot is endless. 

drainpipe planting
plastic bottle greenhouse
vertical bottles
bottle cloches