There is a new term—hack—spinning wildly on the World Wide Web, and I’ve resisted it. I grew up in a time where a hack was someone who did a crappy job, so transitioning into the new definition has been an arduous process for me. But, words evolve, and times change. I don’t want to be the guy standing in the way, so for those of you only now stumbling on to the new “hack”, or life hack, it is a technique that helps manage time more one’s time and chores more efficiently, as well as save money and reuse present resources.

In substance, that doesn’t sound so bad. In fact, this idea seems a key component to good permaculture design. Well’ I won’t promise that the following hacks will change your life the way permaculture might, but they might be useful, they might add a little logic or funkiness to the garden, and they could definitely inspire some new ideas for the innovative amongst us. After all, new terminology is no reason to kick a good idea to the curb. How many times have I, despite only being a few years into it myself, been asked: What’s permaculture?

Here are some of the more impressive gardening hacks I’ve come across:


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1. The Wine Bottle Self Waterer: Nothing new to many, this is a clever idea for the container garden or small plots that don’t get attention everyday. Fill a wine bottle with water, stick it neck-down into the soil, and it’ll act as a slow release water dispenser for the garden.

2. Gutters for a Vertical Garden: Vertical gardens are a great way to utilize space in urban environments or to keep Zone 1 gardens even closer. Use old rain gutters and/or pipes to build lettuce and herb beds along walls or fences and get the most out of your space.

3. Coffee Grounds for Fertility: Liquid coffee may be what we use to wake up, but the grounds are outstanding for keeping plants perky as well. They are high in nitrogen, and the process of brewing coffee washes away the acidity. Plus, they deter pest. Lots of things can be done withspent coffee grounds and used up tea leaves.

4. Seedling Pots a Plenty: Toilet paper rolls make great seedling pots, as do newspapers and old fruit rinds. Fill them up with soil, get the plants started, and then just put the whole contraption into the ground. It’ll protect young roots then soften and degrade, letting the more mature roots reach out into the soil.

5. Milk Jugs and Plastic Bottle Watering Cans: There is no need to buy a watering can, as they are put into the recycling bin daily across the world. Poke a few small holes in the lid of a milk jug or plastic bottle, fill the bottle with water, and use it as watering can.

Video: 21 Garden Hacks