Container gardening ideas

Hello all, I have been asked to give a talk on container gardening at my church and would like some ideas from the group. What unusual containers have you used for planting and how did they work. Thanks a bunch. Donna
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On 02 Apr 2004 01:36:20 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (UTVOLVET84) opined:

I have several. One has trailing verbena 'Homestead' and 'Blue Daddy' petunias with bacopa. This seems to work well together and after it looks spent, I cut it all back and in a few weeks, with some fertilization, it is in full beauty again and again all summer.
I've also used variegated lantana with sweet potato vine 'Blackie' and trailing verbena 'Blue Princess.' Also does beautifully all summer.
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Thanks. Any ideas for unusual containers?
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One of the neat things is that there is really no end of possibilities for 'unusual' containers. I personally don't go for things that are too cute (e.g., old boots, tea pots, and the like, although I'm sure I might like an individual presentation in the right setting) because they detract from the plantings, but I do like to look for large containers so that I can cut my expenses. In the past I've used things like bushel baskets from fruit stands (line them with plastic that has drainage holes punched through). Thoroughly cleaned metal cannisters that have contained olives, olive oil or similar can also be lined and have drain holes added. I've added a subtle verdigris effect on the outside, and I must say they've looked stunning yet unobtrusive....and most importantly, they're free and large enough for a pretty good planting. Dumpster diving can get you some pretty cool things, if you have places nearby that have interesting garbage.
Old trash bins (even plastic can be disguised with the right kind of paint) can be ideal if you cut them down. Old-fashioned metal washtubs work well, look subtle enough. Although it's not unusual, I've seen some pretty cool planting effects in cinderblocks.
There are so many possibilities.......
Best, Tyra nNJ usa z7
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On 04 Apr 2004 00:14:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnoway (Tyra Trevellyn) wrote:

Could you detail how you do your verdigris effect? This sounds promising. Also, what is your experience in what kind of paint sticks to plastic? I keep trying to come up with something useful AND attractive to do with empty soda bottles.
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Frogleg snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.com wrote on Sun, Apr 11, 2004 at 12:58 PM:

I've got to kick my memory a bit, but here's what I'm pretty sure I did to two large containers I still use:
I took some heavy-duty steel wool (and probably some sandpaper) and rubbed down the outside of the metal cans, making them as rough as possible. I got some smallish tubes of oil-based enamel (the kind that one uses to add tints to oil-based paint) in a turquoise-y color. I squeezed some of the enamel onto a brush and dabbed it on the outside of the cans, and then rubbed over it with a paper towel. You do this a few times until you get the effect you want. It's streaky and they look more like ancient, thoroughly-abused painted containers than true verdigris, but it's a nice effect. You can use any color, really, but roughed-up turquoise tends to resemble real verdigris which seems to look right in gardens.
This is a really what-you-have-around way to do it, but I know that crafts/paint/art supply shops have lots of products you can buy to create faux finishes on all kinds of materials.
Plastic containers need to be coated with glue and paper before they'll take most paints (although I'm sure there are paints compounded to adhere brilliantly to plastic.....I just never looked for them, 'cause if I can't do this kind of stuff on the cheap, it's not worth doing!). I soak sheets of newsprint in artists' sizing and then wrap the paper around the containers (kind of a papier mache thing, but better for this purpose). After that, you can use any paint you want, as long as you apply a few coats of waterproof sealer when the whole thing is dry. These creations last a surprisingly long time, and don't look half bad when they've started to look tatty. I haven't tried this on soda bottle plastic....only on the heavy-duty trashbin/dishpan kinda plastic.
Quite honestly, while not difficult to do at all, I only go this route when I need larger containers that would be too expensive to buy in preferred materials.
Have fun...! Best, Tyra nNJ usa z7
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On 12 Apr 2004 00:25:30 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnoway (Tyra Trevellyn) wrote:

Thanks, Tyra. Both sound like something within my capabilities. And budget. :-) Enamel, steel wool, sizing. Got it.
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There have been ads on tv lately for a spray paint that sticks to plastic, so I think anywhere that sells spray paints .. like a paint store.. could point you to it. It's made specifically for that job, so it's not an "also does" kind of product.
Although, I don't think there is anything useful and attractive to be done with empty soda bottles other than recycling them then they make stuff out of them ;-) Plus, if you live in a place that charges a deposit, or close to a state that does, you can take them in and get MONEY for them ;-) There are lots of plans for hummingbird feeders people have developed auto water bases that screw onto the big plastic bottles, and there are those stoppers that fit in the neck that make them into a water bottle for rabbits, and other pets to lick (rabbits would chew up the bottle neck if it wasn't somehow shielded though).
Many many things to do with them, in fact do a search for the size bottle you want to use up, and you'll likely find some of the uses for them. I put in just one way to search: 2 liter soda bottle uses and got quite a few hits. one for a magnetometer! Try it you'll like it! ;-)
Janice
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On Sun, 11 Apr 2004 21:31:42 -0600, Janice

I will certainly look for the magnetometer -- what home is complete without one?! Actually, I've been hunting for years for soda bottle-plastic ideas. Specifically, how they might be cut neatly, painted, molded, etc. Have even contacted several 'Plastics Board' type organizations, with no luck. I mean, if you cut off the top and bottom, you have a nice plastic cylinder that *must* be a useful start to *something*. And if you cut the cylinder top to bottom, you have a small sheet of sturdy clear plastic. Could the plastic be melted, shaped and dyed for jewelry or faux stained glass? It just irks me to just toss these useful objects into the recycling bin. Most of the projects *I* turned up involved gluing felt and sequins to the bottles to make kitsch centerpieces.
Thanks for the search suggestion. I'd never used size.
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wrote:

If you can't get your paint to stick to plastic, try painting primer on the plastic first and then paint the primer.

I recently used 2 apple joice bottles (type 1 PETE Polyethylene teraphthalate) to start tomato and pepper seeds. The tomato seeds were organically certified and went nuts compared to my tray started tomatoes. I'm assuming the higher temperature from a greenhouse effect and moisture recycling was responsible and not the organic origin (the organic plants were also mysteriously gnawed on, but turned out okay, the only access was via 3mm holes in the bottom and near the top ... soil mix was leftover from last year and may have had insect eggs inside). The soil was only marginally difficult to pour into the normal opening.
The pepper seeds were non-organicly certified and also had the dissadvantage of me knocking the container over several times. Those seeds only recently peeked through, which is more than i can say for the ones i had in newspaper pots ... nada (but I accidently left those outside in cold along with the bottle). After a while, some fluffy fungus started to grow in the center of the pepper bottle, but then I remover the screw-on lid for ventilation and the fungus is no longer evident. (Surprisingly the tomatoes did not have a problem with damping off, and for both, algae was not a problem other than the vermiculite which was already green coming out of the bag.)
I'm pretty sure that 2 liter soda bottles are now also made of PETE although less thick. You should be able to cut off the top and invert it (a la somebody else's competing brand slug trap) to act as a cover. This will also make it easier to put soil into. When you are done, cut it open, remove plants, rinse it out and recycle as usual. Water recycling may not be as good, depending on the seal.
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