GARDENING: Recycling for a container gardenFloyd is a horticulturist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He can be reached at 498-4071 in Ector County or 686-4700 in Midland County or by email at

There aren’t many American communities where motorists can get a glimpse of economic health by counting the number of five gallon buckets on the roadside.
These little chunks of plastic are mindless, but apparently cunning enough to escape the back of a truck at seventy-five miles an hour and survive. This is very fortuitous since plastic buckets can be used for a host of gardening purposes.
I’d never seen one of these buckets take flight until an orange flash suddenly made an appearance in front of my windshield on U.S. Highway 80. The next few seconds are a blur, but I remember standing over the inanimate offender and exclaiming “what a wonderful container garden you would make.” Even as I said these words, the scent of oregano managed to overtake thoughts. “Herbs, that’s what I’ll plant in you.”
There’s no secret gardener’s decree that demands all containers must be elaborate, store bought terracotta pots. Virtually any vessel that is capable of holding a soilless potting mix and allowing ample water drainage will work for growing plants. Better still, recycled objects that meet those conditions will function as creative containers that make a statement about their owner.
Boots filled with potting soil and stuffed with pansies make great conversation starters. When in the corner of a small apartment patio, the mood of all visitors becomes lighthearted and relaxed. Old galvanized tubs, discarded toilets, used tires, vintage wheelbarrows, leaky ice chests, number ten husband-pleasing ranch style bean cans…you’re starting to catch on now.
When the recycled object needs a little help retaining the potting mix, it can be lined with fabric to slow the loss of water. Upside-down lampshades, faded blue jeans, empty burlap bean sacks, rusty colanders and virtually any schmickety old thing that can be lined with garden fabric will serve as a container.
To learn more about container gardening, call the Texas A&M AgriLife County Extension office at 498-4071.