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Creating Planters

Ron Finley

Lesson time 14:17 min

Ron demonstrates how to upcycle common household items into beautiful containers and planters and then walks you through the essential tools that every gardener needs.

Ron Finley
Teaches Gardening
Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - So right now I'm going to show you some of the tools you must have in your garden. And also we're going to show you how to utilize and save some space in your garden by making containers. [MUSIC PLAYING] Right now, I'm going to show you some of the things that you can use for containers in your garden. I have a way-- to me there's no trash. there's only art waiting to happen. So I use a lot of old stuff. If it can hold soil, I'm putting a plant in it. Because all I have to do is use this to put holes in it. Like this, this old suitcase can be used for a planter. Actually, this too. You can put-- you can put plants in here, drill some holes in it. What we might do if you want it in your garden, you can put some feet on it so it gets air from the bottom and it drains. And there you have a garden. Same thing with this trunk. This could be a great garden bed. And it still has a lot of stylishness to it because of the metal and the buckles and the leather. I like that rustic look. This teapot. I collect teapots. Something about teapots, I don't-- I just love the design. Put a plant in them, drill some holes. These are nice centerpieces for you-- for your parties. This is a good one, dresser drawers, not the plastic new ones they have, but the real wood drawers. So what we would do is I would take this and I would make drainage holes in it. And I would-- what I would also do with this is I would reinforce it. I'd probably get a couple of screws and just reinforce it. Put a couple of screws in each side, because once you get it-- once just gets moisture in it, the work-- the wood is going to swell. And it's going to break apart. But I love-- I love this. I love the design on this, the knob, the keyhole. It's great. So we can put some soil in here. And then you can make a succulent garden or you can put your kale in here, whatever you want. So all of these things can be gardens. Don't look at what it is. Look at what it has the possibility to be. That's how we need to do all our so-called waste. We need to reposition it, repurpose it, and give it another lifecycle, like we did with this, like for instance, this shoe with these succulents in it. You can put all kinds of different plants in this, like you can take, you know, your boyfriend's old boot that he left when you kicked him out the house and put some soil in it. Bam, this could happen. You can almost plant in anything. But if you're going to eat it, there's certain things that I wouldn't plant in. Like if I'm going to eat the food, I wouldn't plant in a suitcase. And there's definitely some things you should avoid, like treated wood, treated lumber. It has toxins in it. And it's made to kill and resist termites in different conditions. And also plastics, like plastics with BPA in it, I wouldn't I wouldn't use those, definitely in a garden because they break down into particles. And they get it-- they leach into the soil. And they break down into the soil, ...

Plant a revolution

When Ron Finley first grew a garden on a curbside dirt strip, he got cited—and then a warrant was issued for his arrest. He fought back, got the laws changed, and started a movement. Now the community activist and self-proclaimed “Gangster Gardener” is teaching you how to grow your own food, keep your plants alive, and find beauty and freedom in gardening no matter the size of your space. Start planting a revolution.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved gardening with my dad as a kid and have really fell out of it over the years. This gave me new inspiration and some really simple, straightforward & useful tips. I started planting things before I even finished the series. I would love a second edition with Ron!!

Loved it and now I am ready to plant some shit!

Mr. Finley is an inspiration to us all. I would've liked to hear more about his life and activism. But overall, it was a tremendous privilege to learn from him.

One of the best classes on here. To the point and whatever you learn you can immediately apply it. Host is great.


A fellow student

I love the Tai Chi of the shovel idea. Wow. I have been gardening for decades, and I don't have most of these tools.

Melanie R.

"How to use a shovel" is my favorite part. Who didn't end with a sore back after gardening?

daniella C.

love this lesson. looking for a list of tools he recommended. can anyone help?

Birgit S.

Ron, "Don't look at what it is, look at what it has the possibility to be." Life lesson.

Cindy K.

Would the sawdust also contain chemicals from the lumber or is it ok to use for compost and mulch?

Saint S.

I live in urban Austin and this has inspired me to start gardening! What a vision for the future: a garden on every street corner. I would love to bring this to my area but I have encountered resistance from authorities, from my apartment complex to the local government! Lots of loopholes to jump thru if you want to plant over their precious grass and dirt... Ghetto Gardening with all these containers is my only option for now, but who knows, it may be the best way!

AuthorSheryl C.

I already learning some planting food from my mom and dad, in school, and YouTube. I want to plant food. Flowers are nice. We found such enjoyment when my daughter wanted to grow sunflowers. We done it the whole entire time she was in elementary growing all kinds. It make sunflower seeds to grow more and eat. I have planted a pineapple plant not died yet completely this is the third year. I didn't want to rush it and my orange and apple seeds made a plant but it was the wrong season. So everything if I get out there in the sun is for food. I really want orange and apple tree. Oh a lemon tree. People have them all over. I always thought it would be nice if our community grew them even in parks or something to give to those who need food. We grow other trees that can't give us food. I do love flower people. Yes, I need seasons cause I got fruits started. My first fruit was strawberries one year.

Darryl A.

Ron is easy to listen to, and he connects the gardening to issues relevant to urbanites.

David K.

Can't say I found this very informative or inspirational. Was looking for information/advice on types of container drainage (e.g. is gravel necessary, plant combinations, etc). Would have been interesting to see some before/after shots with the upcycled containers.

Bernardo F.

Most of my plants are in pots, either plastic or clay pots. Some others have received a bucket, some others are in kitchen pots and a pair are in jars. After this class now I have plenty of ideas to where put new plants, better get a drill!