Gardening for kids: Upcycled milk bottle planters with Katie Wall - video transcript

This page is a transcript of the Gardening for kids: Upcycled milk bottle planters with Kate Wall video on Brisbane City Council's YouTube channel. The video is 15 minutes and 12 seconds long.


>> KATE: Hi, I’m Kate Wall and welcome to part two of our upcycle gardening workshops for children. This is my son, Ned, who’s going to be joining us in the workshop today and helping me with it.

Today, we’re using a milk bottle . The sort of thing nearly all of us have in our recycling box. And this is the sort of thing we’re going to make. This is one I made yesterday. Ned, however, would like to make his into a fish. So, it lends itself to a face beautifully in this space. However, there’s no reason why you have to go with a human face. Ned would like his to be a fish. Let’s have a look at how we do that.

First thing we’re going to do - big kids you can do this yourself, little kids, you’ll need somebody to help you - is cut the top of the milk bottle. So that’s this part up here. And any pair of sharp scissors will do that quite easily. So, we’re just going to cut that around. Now, I do hope you’ve washed your milk bottle first. You might end up finding this job gets a bit messy and smelly. So do give your milk bottle a good rinse first. This part makes a really good paint tray. This is what we used yesterday for painting this one. Put that aside for now. Ned, you wanna hold that?

Now, before I hand this over to Ned. What we’re going to do is hang it up. It’s a lot easier to work on if it’s hung up. So, you can see we’ve got some string here to hold it up. Now, to do that I’m gonna put four little holes around. Now, you gotta do it a fair way from the top, because if you accidentally go to far you don’t want it to cut all the way out. Now, again, this is a job for a grown up. And it’s a pretty easy job. Now that we’ve got four holes, we’ve got some string. And we’re just gonna thread this string through the hole to be able to hang it up. String it through a couple of times just for extra security so that the string doesn’t really slip.

Run the string along to this hole, thread it through here as well. Now, if I was doing a face like that one there, then that would be the only cuts that I would make to the bottle. However, because Ned wants a fish, we've decided – we’ve already had a chat about how this is going to work – and we’ve decided that we would like to put some fins on our fish, to make it a bit more fishy. So, I am going to make some extra cuts in this milk bottle to be able to add some fins. Now, we’ve already cut out some pieces of plastic. We’re using plastic not paper because it needs to be able to get wet, but it can be painted so it won’t look like this and we’ve just used old trays that you would have in the recycling. So, once again these are projects that you can do just with things you have at home already. So, we don’t want you to having to go and buy new materials because that’s not upcycling. Ned, what colour would you like your fish to be?

>> NED: Orange

>> KATE: So, how do make orange, if we haven’t got orange paint?

>> NED: Red and yellow?

>> KATE: That’s exactly right. Red and yellow together will make orange. So, if we mix some red and yellow paint, we’ll get orange. Do you know how to make skin colour paint, if you want a skin colour like this?


>>KATE: It’s pretty orange really, isn’t it? So, skin colour is red and yellow with more red than yellow with a whole lot of white. You can add a little bit of blue to make it a darker skin colour. So, now we’ve got our four pieces like this. If I bundle this like this and tie it up, we can hang it here on this hook that I’ve got ready. Now, the whole thing is just a little bit easier to work on if we can weight it down. Now, we’ll tidy those strings up later. Whoops! Our hooks not quite high enough so I’ll just hook it up this way. There we go. Whole things a lot easier to work on if we weight it down. So, Ned would you like to just add a small handful of rocks into the bottom please? Now, the reason that we’ve put some rocks into the bottom, it gives it a little weight, so it stays steady for us [TO NED] -few more - and it also helps with drainage so water can all flow to the bottom.  Now, you can see when I water this one, we’re going to unscrew the cap to let the water drain out. So, we’ve gotta make sure it all comes to the bottom. Now, you can see with those rocks in, it’s standing nice and straight. To make some slits to put our fins in.  We’ve got one tail fin and two side fins here. I’m gonna put a little slit on each side. About this height, you reckon Ned?

>> NED: Yeah.

>> KATE: Yeah? Okay, gonna put a little hole with the scissors and then I can cut down just enough to be able to poke our thin piece in which will work. Oh, I haven’t cut it quite long enough yet. A little bit longer. Now, you can see we have a flap here. That flap goes to the inside like that. Now, while we have nothing in it, we can put some sticky tape or bit of a glue or something inside to hold that together. So, I’m gonna get Ned to do that job. Ned, we actually have some tile glue on the floor over here. Do you wanna grab that bucket, so you can glue that in and now, not everybody has tile glue. You can just use some tape or whatever you have. This is probably easier if it’s laying down flat to put these slits into it.  So, I probably should have done this step before I hung it up but, however, that’s alright. And once we’ve glued them down, we will – this one doesn’t want to cut for me, never does what you want on the spot when you want it, does it? There we go. Slip this one in, a little bit longer.  Slip this one and we’ll be able to glue that one as well. Now, once this whole thing comes together, it will be held together nicely with the soil inside of it – which will really help, and it will all be painted. Now, Ned what I’m gonna get you to do is scoop up a little bit of this tile glue from the bucket for this and put it inside. Okay, and press those  down. Are you alright to do that?

>> NED: Probably, yep.

>> KATE: And we’ve got a tail one one the back to do as well and you can see how the fish comes together. But you can choose any animal that suits you or, more simply,  just do a face like this one. Now, in this case what we’ve done here is we’ve used some material wrapped around the top. That just makes it a bit of fun. This is a piece of old dress that I’ve cut up and some earrings I’ve added, just for a bit of bling and a bit of fun. It’s entirely up to you how you want to decorate yours. But that’s what I’ve chose for mine. In this case, we have put in some ivy. Now this will hang down really nicely, like here,  in this particular one. Now, you don’t have to choose something that hangs down, you can choose something that sticks straight up if you like. After all, spiky hair works too doesn’t it?

>> NED: Mmm.

>> KATE: For Ned’s one we’re going to use mint because Ned really likes eating mint. So, we’re going to grow some mint in his one. [TO NED] How’s that? Oh, that’s a great job you’ve done! That will stay in there now. I’m gonna get you to start painting this now, okay and we’ll add in the tail a bit later on. Now, to paint this - [TO NED] pop that in for now because you’ll need that shortly – to paint this we’re going to use red paint because we want to make orange. So, we need a big squirt of red and we need lots of paint because we’ve got to put it all over. We need a nice big squirt of yellow. Yellow’s running out a bit, but we’ve got lots and lots of yellow here so that’s enough, but I also found some silver paint. So, we’re gonna try adding in a bit of silver just for a bit of extra fun to see what happens. To make it a little more shiny for a fish.

Okay, Ned well there you go, get painting and have fun with painting your fish. When he’s finished painting it, we’ll look at drawing or painting on eyes. You can see, you can draw them on, it doesn’t have to be painted. Now, I’ve only given this one coat of paint, but you can certainly give it more than one coat if you’re not entirely happy or you want to be a bit fussier about what you put in. Let’s look at some – [TO NED] a bit more yellow for a bit more orange for that but have fun with it - Let’s look at some of the plant choices. We’ve chosen mint because we like eating it. It’s a lot of fun in your projects if you can add plants that you can eat. However, edible plants don’t always lend themselves to where we hang these things. This one’s going to be hung on the veranda where it’s a bit shady. So, the mint won’t get enough light to grow. Ned’s one will hang somewhere outside where it gets a lot more sun and the mint enough light to do well. The great thing with these planters is we can control how wet or dry they are. Mint likes a lot of water. So, we don’t need to open the bottom to drain it very often.

Ivy on the other hand likes to be just a little on the dry side so I would drain that a little bit more often. This mint will grow up and then it will cascade down. It probably won’t get really big because Ned will be constantly nibbling at it and it won’t get the chance to get too big. But that’s all part of the fun as well. Now, looking at this one here. How do we care for plants in this planter head? I haven’t yet watered this one in. I’m gonna do that now and show what’s involved. I’ve got a little bit of Seasol here which I’m adding to our water so that we can give it a little bit of a hurry along. Often when we are putting thing – we only need a little bit, not very much – we can use worm tea, or compost tea or anything like that that you have. You can see the colour of the water. When we put plants into containers, we usually break the roots when we put them in, we’re squishing and shoving to make them go in. So, we want to encourage those roots to grow back and putting a little bit of Seasol is a good way to do that.

Now, these planters will get a bit heavy as you fill them up with water, there’s a lot of space in here. After all, it’s a three litre milk bottle. So, I’m just carefully and gently, just a few drips and we’ve got a little bit of mess which is why I’ve got a old table cloth so it doesn’t matter how much mess we make. And you can see it takes quite a lot of water to wet this fully through, but that’s okay. It’s probably enough now. When this water has soaked all the way through, we can drain out the stuff that’s not too… not needed when we’ve got too much in there. If we were to leave too much water in the bottle it would get too wet and our plant would rot. So, to undo it, just unscrew it. Just a little bit, not enough for everything to fall out. I’ve got a container here to catch the drips. So, obviously, wherever you hang this, it does matter that you can empty it out. Pick it up and take it outside so you can drain the water out. If it’s outside it doesn’t really matter. But we can just leave it open now for a few minutes to be able to just fully drain through.

 I’ve got a tin under here so I can catch that water and use it elsewhere. But you can have a lot of fun experimenting with the different plants that you’ve got in your garden to put into your head. See what’s in the old jewellery drawer that no one wears anymore. Remember to ask permission first. Never use something that you don’t have permission to use. But that could also be fun to put old jewellery on there. I would probably recommend a second coat of paint at some point so that it doesn’t get too worn off. I’ll get round to that. But again, have fun with your planter and remember whichever plant you choose you’ve got to think about whereabouts it’s going to go. How much sun does it need? Because we have a lot of soil space here we can grow plants that like to get quite big. So, for example what we’ve used here with our shoes. These plants don’t need much space for their roots. Here, we’ve got things that do need a lot of space. If I did want to grow the mint in the shoe it wouldn’t grow because it doesn’t have enough room to grow. By putting it in here it’s got lots and lots space to fill up with roots and the bigger and stronger those roots are the bigger our plant is going to be and healthier and happier it’s going to be.

So, ask Mum and Dad for help. Have a lot of fun making up your own creatures, your own styles and designs and exploring what you can do with different plants in them. And we’re going go and give Ned some time to finish this. Once he’s finished painting it, we’ll draw on some nice big eyes and decorate it little bit that way. Go and have fun making your own recycled head planter. Bye kids.

Last updated: 16 July 2020
Topics: library