Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
June, 2004
Regional Report

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Take advantage of the fact that window air conditioners drip, and put a planter under yours.

Making Good Use

Putting everyday stuff to work in the garden can save money and make better use of items otherwise discarded. Here are some ideas for some objects that can do double duty.

Recycling Water
Place a planter where it can catch the drip from the window air conditioning unit and fill it with soil that drains well and plants like begonias and airplane plants. As a plus, the sidewalk below stays dry. Or let that a/c or leaky faucet drip onto a bed of mint and watch it spread rapidly.

Watering Aids
When a garden hose gets rips or holes and it is not practical to patch it, use an icepick to add some more holes to create a custom soaker hose. Lay the hose so existing tears will leak onto specific plants, then snake the rest around in the bed and poke holes where you want more water. Put a reservoir near pumpkin vines and other very thirsty plants using a plastic jug that contained milk or juice. Poke holes around the base of the jug, then bury it with the top above the soil. Keep it full of water and fertilizer.

Block of Ideas
The good old concrete blocks you used to make bookshelves in college can work as well in the garden. Elevating plants shows them off, and makes it harder for slugs to invade them. Paint or seal the boards to protect them, and stack up a three-shelf, plant stand to hold houseplants summering outside. Use one block to elevate an overgrown basket or pot as an accent on the porch; the gray block disappears from view under a spill of petunias. Build a wall topped by blocks turned with their holes exposed; voila instant planter.

More Tips
Turn broken shovel and rake handles into plant stakes. Make a clean cut, then sand and paint or seal the handle. Install the stakes next to plants about their height, such as lilies or gladiolas. Use an old bathtub to grow a collection of water plants; with a simple pump it makes a basic water garden, not a mosquito breeder.

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