Garden Hoarding: 5 Items Worth Holding Onto

Garden hoarding is the habit of saving things for later use in the garden. These items offer big long-range perks to gardeners.

by Jessica Walliser
PHOTO: Jessica Walliser

While hoarding isn’t necessarily a healthy habit, there are some perks to holding onto certain items, especially when it comes to the garden. Garden hoarding means saving items for reuse and repurposing, and it saves money and time for gardeners. Plus, it’s a great way to recycle. Here are 5 items worth squirreling away for the garden.

1. Plastic Milk Jugs

Saving one-gallon plastic milk and water jugs pays big dividends in the spring. To make plastic cloches that last for several years, cut the bottoms off the jugs and remove the caps. Then, after planting early-season transplants like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower out into the garden, keep them snug underneath a milk jug cloche. Acting much like a mini greenhouse, the milk jug protects the plants from temperature extremes and allows you to get a jump start on the season.

2. Nursery Pots

Hold onto one-gallon nursery pots because they’re terrific for repotting perennial divisions and passing them along to friends. Spring and fall are the best times to dig up and divide most perennials and ground covers. After they’re out of the ground, pot the divisions up in used pots to share them with friends. While seedlings require new or disinfected pots due to their sensitivity to various pathogens, perennial divisions that came right out of the ground will do just fine in unwashed used pots.

3. Autumn Leaves

Yep. That’s right. You have our permission to hoard fall leaves. Heck, we know gardeners who collect bags of leaves that were sent to the curb for the landfill by their neighbors. Leaves make wonderful compost that’s a boon to gardeners for adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Leaves can be piled into compost piles or bins, collected in trash bags for adding to next year’s compost pile, or shredded and redistributed onto garden beds as a mulch. Garden hoarding fall leaves helps build healthier soil so don’t feel weird about it—feel good about it.

4. Seeds

There’s nothing more satisfying than garden hoarding to increase your personal plant collection. Seed savers don’t consider it hoarding of course; they just consider it smart gardening. Collecting and saving your own garden seeds is a terrific way to cut down on costs and make sure you preserve your favorite heirloom, open-pollinated varieties. Thankfully, seeds don’t take up much room, so there’s absolutely no guilt with this version of garden hoarding.

5. Kitchen Scraps

Hoarding all those much-coveted fruit and vegetable peelings and trimmings, coffee grounds, unbleached napkins and paper towels, eggshells and other kitchen waste is the best kind of hoarding there is for a gardener. When added to the compost pile, these kitchen scraps become an excellent source of nitrogen to help balance all those fall leaves you’re saving as a carbon source. Bury your saved kitchen scraps in the pile every few days to hide them from rodents, or toss them on top and cover them with some extra leaves or straw. A well-balanced compost pile should never smell, so hoard those kitchen scraps instead of sending them to the landfill.

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While garden hoarding might at first seem like a negative, as you can see, so many positives can be the result.

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