Water and Money- Saving Tip for Large Garden Planters

Over the weekend I scored some large planters really cheap. When I got
home I realized that math is not my forte. I had purchased ingredients
to mix my own potting soil but I didn’t have enough of the ingredients
to make a potting mix for both planters because they are so large. The
plants I’m planting will not use more than half of the amount of soil
the container holds, filling them with the soil mix would be a waste of
money and water. Instead of going out and buying more ingredients to make my potting mix I turned to an old frugal
gardening trick.

I filled the bottom half of the pot with empty plastic soda bottles. In total there are six 2 liter bottles acting as a false bottom in each pot. Then I covered the top of the empty soda bottles with newspaper, but you can also use landscaping fabric or something like cheese cloth.

How to plant large garden planters frugally with soda bottles.png

The next step was to fill the pots with the potting mix I’m using in my
container garden. I stopped adding the mix about two inches below the
rim of the pot, then added the plants. The last step was to water the
potted plants in and waiting for the settling of the mix then adding
more potting mix to make up for the soil that settled down.

how to plant large garden planters frugally with empty plastic bottles.png

I find a lot of uses for empty pop bottles in the garden so I always have a large stash of them, but you can use water bottles, milk jugs, deli containers, the plastic containers you get from fast food places, boxes or anything else you want to temporarily keep out of the landfill.

This large planter is now home to my hot pepper garden.

Looking over the pics in the blog entry I’m wondering if my subconscious is trying to tell me something about all that Dr.Pepper that I drink.


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  • CCWriter,

    It depends on what I'm growing. My indoor mix is different than my outdoor mix and even the indoor mix is tailored depending on the plant. I sometimes will buy a bagged potting mix and amend it based on the plants that will grow in it.

    For these outdoor planters I used bags of potting soil I bought from Home Depot. It is a really cheap one that costs something like 2.50 per bag. It is basically top soil with some sand. I added more sand (construction grade, not playground sand) and then added some peat (normally I use Coco coir but couldn't find it)and compost. I don't have a "recipe" I just mix them enough until I have a nice fluffy mix.

    I didn't add any perlite to this, like I would a houseplant mix, because at the end of the season I will dump it into the garden to amend the garden soil.

  • You mix sounds pretty good.

    I helped out at Pocket Park yesterday ( http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-garden/2009/07/little-village-pocket-park.html ) and their soil mix in the raised beds was horrible. The city gave them some top spoil filled with rocks that had the consistency of sculpting clay. In one of their locations they had styrofoam as a base in the raised bed. I could only shake my head.

  • CCWriter,

    I have a colander too for the garden that I use to screen out sticks and rocks. What if you made something larger like out of a window screen and maybe a rectangular frame, sorta like those sifters you see at archeological digs?

  • The best water savings in irrigation is achieved by matching the water discharge rate to the plant uptake rate. Drain below the root zone is therefore prevented and the water/air balance in the soil is better for the plant. The method was developed in Israel and called

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