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Repurposing in the Garden: Big + Small

One thing I’ve learned over the years is finding ways to get the garden designed in ways that are both affordable and sustainable. I’ve found inspiration from family, friends, neighbors, magazines, garden centers, eco educational opportunities, even Pinterest.

From deconstructing a deck into ten 12x4 raised beds back on our coastal farm, to building a vertical herb garden with repurposed fence pickets and pea trellises in our Emerald City cottage, to building our duck’s first coop from scrap wood, hardware cloth and a door spotted on an abandoned lot, getting creative with found objects has been one of the most fun parts of creating my favorite place in the world…my garden.

Here are a few of the more recent big & small ways I’m repurposing to get our newest garden going here in the Skagit Valley...

I’ve always adored those cattle panel vertical trellises that are in many gardens spotted on Pinterest, but with farm stores jacking the prices up on basics because of these trends? I knew there had to be an alternative, and found one on YouTube - repurposing PVC pipes and installing them onto rebar pounded into the ground. While the video suggested zipties to connect the crossbars, I went with scrap cloth from our ‘rag bin’ where old t-shirts and leggings that can’t be donated get cut up and repurposed for a myriad of uses, from garage cleanup to sink’sponges’ to plant-staking ties to…this! The beans have just been planted into the ends of each beds, with cukes in a couple more weeks, and I can’t wait to see these covered in vines this summer!

….and speaking of vines, on a much smaller level, I’ve recently put in a potted clematis on our back patio, designed to climb up and around the column it sits in front of and add some color to the gray of it all. With that, I’ve repurposed old coffee mug hooks as simple connectors for the vine tendrils to wrap around. Easy peasy!

Somewhere in the middle, I was able to repurpose the top of a discarded ‘little free library’ that was lying on the curb in our neighborhood. Initially I was thinking of reusing it for the same purpose in front of our home, but very quickly I realized it was the perfect mini greenhouse to both protect young plants on cold nights and start seeds that need a more humid environment, like the cockscomb I’m experimenting with right now. A quick coat of leftover zero-VOC paint used in our bathroom transformation and…voila! A nice little - and very useful! - addition to one of our two potting benches - which, while it was covered in coffee bags in the photo, is actually repurposed several times over (beginning as a DIY bathroom vanity that I ultimately ended up not using back at the farm, then into a foyer table, and now a super sturdy potting bench with a lower shelf for duck feed storage)!

And last but not least, on the end of our covered back patio, there are a few repurposing projects that have occurred: 1) This table which serves dual purpose, as a cover for the heat pump and a secondary potting bench. The tabletop is from the top half of the creepy barn door the master bathroom came with when we bought the house (it had a hole in it and no doorknob, yikes…you can see a bit of it here) which I promptly removed and cut in half (I used the bottom half as a crawlspace door to replace the monstrously heavy 3x3 concrete block), and the rest is repurposed scrap wood remnants I had on hand from other projects, with a quickie paint job in the same color as our house trim.

2) The shelf is one of the cabinet doors from the laundry area. I’d taken it off when I revamped the old utility/furnace space into our groovy new pantry as we live and breathe open shelving around here, so a quick prime & paint and it was good to go on some $3 metal brackets. The bonus about having this shelf is that I don’t have to go to the garage to get the frequently used items (neem oil for the roses, organic copper spray for the peach, diatomaceous earth for the duck house, etc), and yet because of the placement, none are targeted by directed sun.

3) And finally, while you can’t see the actual hooks our hats are on, they’re just old angle brackets (like this) leftover from who-knows-what that happened to be long enough for the hats to hang off. While I usually just pop on a bandana when in the garden, if it’s hot enough I’m trying to get better at wearing a sun hat, not just sunscreen, especially as this hat took forever to find with my XL skull (who knew my honey and I were both humans with big noggins, and one size definitely doesn’t fit all in the hat world, y'all!).

So there you have it kids…more ways to repurpose in the patio, in the garden, and beyond!


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