Is That A Zot – House Clearance and Rubbish Removal

By Nick Vassilev

updated: 29/10/2023


Do you have household junk or any kind of stuff that needs rubbish removal? Read on.
When you have been clearing out your house and garage and getting rid of rubbish, before you take the lot to the tip, perhaps you need to look through everything and see if you have any potential zots among the rubbish.
What is a zot? The origin of this word goes back to one of our family word games. We used to take a single-syllable word ending (e.g. ick) and add some consonants and consonant clusters (e.g. str-) and come up with a new word and a definition for the word (a great game if you’re stuck in traffic with school-age children and teenagers, by the way). Mum defined a zot as an old household item used to grow flowers in. As far as I’m aware, there isn’’t a proper dictionary word for this sort of thing, so zot became the word we used.
When you’re clearing out rubbish and junk from your home, garage or office, what sorts of things can you keep an eye out for so that the thing can be used as a zot? Basically, anything that can hold dirt and allow for some drainage out the bottom. Here’s a few examples:
  • teapots and kettles (assuming that they have a hole in the bottom) – suitable for spring bulbs and herbs
  • old car tyres (stack them one on top of the other) – great for potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes, especially as the black rubber absorbs heat and warms the soil
  • toilets – big enough to take small rosebushes, azaleas and camellias
  • buckets (if you’ve got a hole in your bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza) good for herbs or one potato plant
  • a bathtub – lucky you: you’ve got a whole raised garden bed ready-made that should be able to take quite a few lettuces and zucchinis, plus a few other odds and ends as well.
  • mugs and cups – you might be able to fit one spring bulb or one chives plant in here
Of course, not every zot suits every person’s taste. Usually, you need the right sense of humour to carry off a toilet used as a zot. A matched set of old kettles and the like can make quite an attractive feature, especially if presented in a row and have identical flowers (e.g. pansies or petunias) in them. Old bathtubs, buckets and tyres used to grow vegetables are best kept in the back garden, as although they’re handy and useful, they aren’’t always super-attractive.
How do you turn a piece of old junk into a zot? It’s all very simple. Take your item and make sure that there’s a hole in the bottom. Drill one if necessary. Then fill your zot with potting mix (try your local garden centre) and a bit of fertiliser. Then plant either seedlings or seeds of anything that’s the right size to fit in it. Water and observe.
With potatoes, it gets even easier. Put in a small layer of compost and potting mix and put in your seed potato. Cover with compost. Water. As the spud grows, cover the green tops with more compost, kitchen waste, etc. After the plant gets as big as it can and starts to wither, dig all the spuds up and enjoy them. Simple!
If you’re saving items to use as zots inside the house, keep an eye out as you’re sorting through the rubbish and clutter for items to use as dishes underneath to stop water going everywhere – old saucers and bowls are obvious choices, but watch out for other possibilities, such as ashtrays, plastic containers and cat litter trays.

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