They say that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray…well this definitely applies to me regarding our March recycling challenge. I had grand plans to create a big worm farm out of an old refrigerator – I had seen a video on an old episode of Gardening Australia and was inspired to give it a go, and when the lady over the road put her old fridge out it was my destiny! But at every turn I was vexed by the annoying requirement to get the fridge ‘degassed’.
Old fridges contain a toxic and lethal gas that needs to be removed in a safe and environmentally conscientious way. I got this quote from Southern Cross Metal Recyclers who say that: ‘Did you know that the environmental green house impact for every refrigerator or freezer that is illegally degassed equals the same effect as running your car for a 6 month period.’
Not willing to try to remove it myself and have a car running for 6 months on my conscious I rang around every recycler, refrigerator repairer and refurbishment shop in the area but no luck. The closest I got was a rough estimate of $200 to get a tradesman out to do it properly or a sketchy – I have an old fridge here but I don’t know if there is gas in it or not.
Alas my recycling plan B. In light of Karen’s fantastic post and video the other day about reusing old plastic containers to create wicking beds here is one in the same genre. I have been working on using some old polystyrene containers I picked up from my local Coles to create some wicking beds. They have worked really well and I’m super happy with the low water use. Enjoy and hope to see you all at our Earth Hour swap 🙂
Get your box. About 10cm from the bottom of one side insert a small piece of tubing as an overflow pipe. I put a small piece of old cheesecloth type fabric around one end of the pipe and secured it on with an elastic band before inserting to prevent mosquitos from getting into the reservoir.
Get a piece of pipe cut to the height of your box and drill 4 small holes 2-3 cm from the base – to allow the water you pour in, to easily distribute along the base of the box. Stand the pipe (holes down) in the box and add scoria or other medium to the height of the run off hole (this creates the reservoir). I have seen many different things used to create a reservoir including plastic bottles 🙂
Lay a piece of cheesecloth, old fly screen/gardening mesh/fabric down over the scoria to stop any soil dropping into the reservoir and clogging the over-flow pipe and to help ‘wick’ the water up into the soil. Here I have used and old baby wrap that I no longer use.
Add your soil and plant. I have put in some basil seedlings and a few lettuce seeds. Water the seeds and plants in to wet the top soil and then fill the reservoir via the grey down pipe. You will know it is full because water will begin to come out of your over-flow pipe. I have stuffed a small old piece of plastic into the top to again prevent mosquitos or debris entering the reservoir.
And there you go. A few weeks later everything is growing nicely. I have only had to fill the reservoir twice so far as the rains have kept it topped up nicely and the whole thing only cost me for the soil and the scoria. A grand total of $7 for a self watering pot – cant complain about that!