Blog: Uncommon Plant Containers

Oct 13, 2016
Plants in a Wheelbarrow


Rate this Post: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Some of the most interesting plant containers are ones that were not originally intended for the purpose.

A few I months ago I bought supermarket salad greens in a clear, shoe box-size plastic container, with a separate lid, and, after eating the contents (which, oddly enough, were packed in a cellophane bag), resisted bringing the container to the recycling center because it seemed there just had to be some way I could reuse it …

The other day, it came to me: I punched a few holes in the bottom of the container and then filled it a little more than halfway (3 to 4 inches) with a mixture of compost, soil-less potting mix, and potting soil. With the lid under, I poured water from a glass to almost soak the soil. Because the container is clear, I would see where the water went or didn't. The next morning, I sprinkled mixed greens seeds on the soil, gently spread about a quarter-inch of soil over them, and watered with a fine mist spray (my sprayer is a former window-wash bottle).

Already, two days later, some of the seeds are sprouting! Soon enough, I'll have salad, but not just to eat. The container full of greens will make a great centerpiece on the dinner table. Hey, I may even bring it to work and “pick” my lunch!

What's your best uncommon container idea?


About This Blog

Your Old Farmer's Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

I have been using these clear

I have been using these clear Spring Mix containers for a year to start my seedlings. Some seeds are started directly into the container after putting in drainage holes (the lid is used to catch the water) or I put my cellpacks into the container without holes in the bottom. I put the cover back on the the container and it creates a mini greenhouse until the seeds germinate and then I remove the cover.

I also use 6 ounce yogurt containers to transplant my seedlings when they outgrow the cell packs.

Plastic milk jugs also make excellent seed starters. Cut the top half of the jug off just below the handle on 3 sides fill with soil add your seeds and tape the top half back down and you have another mini greenhouse. You can add additional moisture if necessary from the top by removing the cap and misting the soil with a spray bottle or kitchen sprayer. Don't forget to put drainage holes in the bottom of the jug.

2 and 3 litre pop bottle cut in half also work great and you can use the top half as a hot cap when you plant out if necessary. Again make sure you add drainage holes to the bottom of the pop bottle.

have an old porcelain

have an old porcelain sink,perfect for drainage. i put it on a old stand i had, planted onions,swiss chard,lettuce & a couple of carrots in it.Its a fast way to pick my salad, and adds a neat touch to my yard!

I had a 3 tiered water

I had a 3 tiered water fountain that suffered a few cracks during hurricane Rita. It would no longer hold the water but made a stunning centerpeice in my garden lined and planted with a variety of herbs and flowers.


Comment from Ann Hicks on May 1, 2009
I once used an antique porcelain bedpan for a indoor plant container (I'm a former nurse). I love to see flowers in old shoes, wheelbarrows, and any antique container. It's interesting to not only look at the flowers/plants, but at the container - and wonder about how it was used, who owned it, etc. I also have used hollowed-out tree stumps for a few pansies or marigolds.

Comment from John Caldwell on May 12, 2009
I have been container gardening for the last several years. I had a section of gutter that I wasn't using and tried some lettuce and radishes in it. They did well all summer long.

Comment from C George Lucas on May 12, 2009
While preparing for winter last year I happened to notice that I had a nice window well on the South side of my house in the basement. In about 10 minutes time I covered it with 8mil plastic,added about 4" of good potting soil, planted a mesclun mix and spinach. 3 weeks later I had 2" plants growing and got my first salad in less than 5 weeks. I have enjoyed salad all winter and am now adding the window greens to the spring mix coming up in my garden. I just leave the window open a crack and water and harvest from the inside when it is cold. Why I hadn't ever done it before is beyond me.

Comment from Debbie Mahler on May 12, 2009
I use old ice cube trays, plastic trays from microwavable dinners, and empty plastic pudding cups from the grand kids to start my seedlings for planting annuals.

Comment from Edward Hanus on May 12, 2009
I had a friend who had a small farm and a lot of old tires laying around. He put a couple of tires down filled them with dirt and mulch and planted several seed potatoes in the tires. When the potatoes started to grow over the top of the tires he added another tire and some more mulch. he kept doing this until the fall and harvest time. He ended up with several bushels of potatoes in the small space of the tires and they were very easy to harvest. Ed

Comment from Karen Chapman on May 12, 2009
I have an old clawfoot bathtub that the feet are broken. It set it up on a few bricks, tilting towards the drain hole and have it planted with jalapeno and cayenne peppers. It is my own personal "hot tub!"

Comment from Brigit Lawson on May 12, 2009
Roast Chicken containers work well, too! We reuse all our old plastics during the spring. It also makes it easier to give some sprouts to your friends! I planted too much broccoli for the area available, but a friend of mine hasn't gotten her plants started. I am bringing a few recycled plastic containers with broccoli, and some herbs, over to her house after I re-plant the ones I am growing myself.

Comment from Lily R. Hansen on May 26, 2009
Thanks for all the great ideals......I tried using my cardboardish egg crates for my gourds this yr....I added a seed to every other section....Then I just planted the egg transplanting doing it this way....working for me so far. I see gourds growing

Comment from Eve Hughes on June 25, 2009
My husband is a contractor. He brought home one of the salad stations with the sneeze guard, from one of the restaurants he was working on. It has a drain hole, so I just put some gravel and soil in it and planted a lot of herbs. They did great. I put in basil, lemon balm, chives, thyme, lemon thyme, etc...they kept going and going all through the summer and winter. Some died back but came back again. A bonus is the sliding doors on the bottom where I can store all my tools I need to plant or take care of the herbs. It looks really pretty too on my back porch with all that green growing. Especially in the Winter. If you can find one, you will have a treasure. Now if I can just convince my three cats that this is not meant for them to sleep on, I'll harvest even more. LOL

Comment from John John on July 11, 2009
Thank you for sharing this article. really helpful

Comment from Maggie Bley on July 26, 2009
I like to reuse the plastic trays from bagged cookies with the peat pellets for starting my seeds. I bought trays @ the dollar store for under them. I'm going to combine the salad box with the cookie trays for next year. Thanks for the Idea, It's cheap and fits perfect on my window sill in my apartment.


thanks! have plenty old tires

thanks! have plenty old tires laying around. Have already bought my potatoes and soil. Im gona give it a try!!


+ a 4-season guide to raising chickens!

You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store