Every day useful resources that can brighten up and oxygenate living spaces are mowed down or wind up in trash cans to be carted off to some brimming waste station many miles away. Gleaning potential money-makers is trendy and responsible, and can be more than financially rewarding.
Stretch the Value of Natural Objects
Keen gleaners keep an eye open for hidden beauty. Rocks can add to a garden remarkably, whether creating a border or thoughtfully, strategically placed. Discreet, lone flowers that are difficult to spot on their own usually make a dramatic impression when grouped with others of the same type.
Naturally weathered wood can add considerable interest to growing spaces. Plants that prefer rich soil often do well growing in old stumps or large rotting branches. Bringing weathered wood indoors without a collection of insect inhabitants is tricky. Prior soaking or dousing with boiling water outside should take care of most infestations.
Seeds, pits and fruit and vegetable tops are valuable resources. Trees can be grown from avocado pits (half suspended by toothpicks in water until rooted), and lemon and grapefruit seeds. Passionfruit and prickly pear seeds can grow free plants, and beet tops pushed into good soil will provide healthy greens indoors all winter. Carrot tops make showy growth, and non-genetically modified pineapple tops can actually grow little pineapples if sunned.
Beautiful, Free Garden Plants are Naturally Occurring
In forested or field areas set to be bulldozed, it may be allowable and even helpful to remove plants and trees that are small enough to manage. Older forest soil is often so naturally conditioned that a good strong pull of a small conifer will lose it from the ground. Gather wildflowers from roadsides and overgrown fields where permissible, noting the living conditions they prefer. Bag a small amount of the soil the trees or plants are growing in and plant and water them as soon as possible.
Endemic plants (those that grow naturally in the area) are harder and easier to care for than imported annuals. Daisies and brown-eyed susan’s, for example, can make a free dramatic show in tasteful groupings in a garden. Allowing a lawn to naturalize occasionally can provide a source of wildflowers and medicinal plants, although many municipalities have limiting bylaws. Flower gardens beautifully replace lawns that have to be weeded and mowed and can add considerably to property value if done tastefully. Try to keep dirt spaces raked around each grouping for a more professional and intentional impression.
Containers and Soil can be Cost Free
Flowers and plants that are found in shady forested areas will likely do better if the eventual growing space is shaded or indoors (near a window). If bringing wild plants indoors, try to replace the outdoor soil with sterilized potting soil. Keep them apart from other plants in the home for a few weeks to ensure they don’t carry any plant diseases. If you don’t have sterilized soil, outdoor soil can generally be made safe by spreading it out on a cookie sheet and baking it in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes.
The best soil is not necessarily rich. If a plant is found in dry conditions, say, with sandy soil, then that may be what they prefer. Most flowering growth put on a more intense display when in humus. Normally, the production of flowers, especially as a precursor to producing fruit will require fertilization. Occasionally, though, some trees and plants will not flower if there are too many nutrients available. If a lilac tree, for instance, is provided with vitamins, it may not flower for several years.
Recyclers watch for empty flower pots and containers left curbside for pickup, particularly in the springtime. Occasionally, cemeteries will have a number of used containers discarded that had abandoned plants in them that died. Moral discretion and permission seeking is encouraged.
Make Money Multiplying and Potting Plants
Amass gleaned plant pots and containers. Wash them with a good, safe soap, fill them with sterilized soil (return customers are important) and pot up the best plant and flower specimens to sell in garage sales or to give away as presents. A plant offered for sale that is labelled with information like uses and growing conditions generally sells much faster.
Perennials (plants that return year after year despite freezing winters) generally need to be split up after a few years, creating the ideal situation of having plants to sell. Echinacea (coneflower) is hardy and readily multiplies, and is known for boosting the immune system.
Chamomile is a great plant to grow in the garden because not only does it proliferate quickly and look beautiful all flowering season, but the flower tops harvested and dried make a healthy tea that can be given away as a gift. Flowered fabric rounds can be cut and glued to the tops of bottle lids fitted around small jars of the cheerful chamomile heads. A little jute around the neck to hem in the fabric makes a nice finish, as does a label done up on a computer and printed or fancy handwriting on a paper label.
Taking cuttings from healthy indoor plants is a rewarding, fun and easy way to make more. Impatiens stems with a few leaves on top root quickly in water. Geranium stems like to dry out a little, for maybe 2 or 3 days before putting in water until they root.
Hint – to keep cutting leaves from getting wet, invert the top section of a plastic drinking bottle in a glass of water and let the cutting drop through into the water (see attached photo).
Nature provides an abundance of resources for health and enjoyment, and when harvested with wisdom and a little skill and knowledge, can help supplement income, health and entertainment.