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RE: Fav Recycling tips( pack ratting) (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: okiedawn on 03.14.2011 at 11:47 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

I recycle all kinds of containers.

Molasses Feed Tubs make great large (about the size of a whiskey half-barrel) containers. We drill drainage holes in the bottom, fill with a good-quality soil-less growing mix, and grow indeterminate tomato plants and other things in them.

Galvanized Steel stock tanks can be filled with a good growing medium and used as a planter. I have one that is 4' in diameter and I've grown tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, flowers and herbs in it (though not all at the same time). If you're starting out with a brand-new one, you'll have to drill drainage holes in the bottom (there usually is one drain in the bottom but I don't think it would drain well enough by itself if you were using the tank as a planter. If you find old ones that local ranchers want to get rid of since they no longer hold water, then you may not have to drill drainage holes because they bottom probably has rusted out to some extent anyway.

When we lived in Texas, my first water garden about 20 or 22 years ago was a couple of water plants and a handful of gold fish in a 4' diameter stock tank. The same tank is now a planter here at our place.

I save cat litter buckets, drill drainage holes in the bottom, spray paint them with Fusion paint for plastics, and grow peppers in them. I get huge yields. I've also grown some dwarf tomatoes and other veggies, herbs and flowers in them.

I save Tidy Cat cat litter jugs and use them to haul water here and there as needed when I don't want to drag a water hose around. If you poke a few small holes in the bottom, you can fill them with water and place them next to new young trees that need to be watered and let the water slowly soak into the ground near the tree.

I plant strawberries in discarded wading pools. Usually they have cracks in the bottom, but if they don't, you can poke or drill drainage holes in them. Fill them with a growing medium and plant your plants. The strawberries I have in the wading pools don't have disease or pest problems nearly as much as the plants in the ground.

I save bleach bottles, laundry detergent bottles, etc. and use them in many ways. Sometimes I cut them into strips for plant labels. sometimes I cut them in half to make scoops that can be used with animal feed, compost, potting soil, fertilizer, etc.

If you buy one of the really large containers of laundry detergent at Sam's Club, CostCo or some other warehouse type store, you can turn the rectangular ones with a spigot into a hand-washing station for the garden. Clean it out well, spray paint it an attractive color with Fusion paint, fill it with water, and place it in the garden. Mine is on a small, recycled steel patio table painted to match. I use a leg cut from a nylon stocking to hold soap. Tie the soap inside the stocking and tie the stocking to the handle of the laundry jug or to the table. You'll always be able to rinse off your hands without leaving your garden.

It goes without saying that 5-gallon buckets can be used for many things....as planters, tool-holders, harvest buckets, etc. I also use them as plant protectors to cover up tomato plants if frost threatens after they are in the ground.

I save old textiles like sheets, blankets, bedspreads, curains and tablecloths to use as plant protectors if a late frost threatens. I keep them folded and piled up on a shelf in the garage so they're ready whenever they're needed.

This isn't exactly recycling, but it saves me money. Instead of buying plastic 1020 seed-starting flats, I use large disposable aluminum pans that are sold on the housewares aisle in stores. If I remember, I save the ones used for turkeys and other large items at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The aluminum pans are sturdy. I buy them in large quantities (about 15 or 20 per pack) and they last a few years. They're much sturdier than 1020 flats.

Instead of potting up into plastic pots (I'd never have enough!), I buy paper, plastic or styrofoam cups. The styrofoam or plastic cups can be reused from one year to the next. Just be sure you wash/sanitize them with a 10% bleach solution before reusing them.

Instead of buying plantable peat pots (which I don't even like anyway because of the issues with them), I buy inexpensive paper cups. I poke large drainage holes in the bottom, start seedlings in them that don't like to be transplanted, and at planting time I plant them cups and all. They biodegrade just fine. I used to cut the bottoms out of them, but then discovered that by the time the seedlings are large enough to transplant, the bottoms are so soft from the soil/moisture that I can stick my finger in a drainage hole and pull the bottom right out of the cup. As a bonus, the cup serves as a cutworm collar!

Speaking of cutworms, instead of making collars for each plant, I place one "stick" on either side of a new seedling when I transplant it into the ground. The sticks can be actual twigs found on the ground, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, or bamboo skewers. (I break each skewer in half so it gives me two sticks to use.)

Nylon pantyhose can be used in several ways. I cut the legs from a pair of stockings, cut the foot portion off so I have two long tubes, and use the tubes around squash plants when I transplant them into the ground. I make sure the part of the stocking leg is below ground, then leave the rest of it bunched up on top of the ground (like the collar of a cowl-neck sweater). As the squash grows, I pull the stocking higher and higher up the stem to protect it. Once the stem of the plant is as tall as the piece of stocking that I have, I tie the end of the stocking to the stem with a piece of garden twine so the squash vine borers can't work their way down between the stocking and the plant stem. That way, at least several inches of the squash plant's stem is protected from SVBs.

I also use knee-high stockings, or legs cut from pantyhose, as slings to support melons grown on trellises.

Old windows and glass or plexiglass doors (including shower doors) can be used as the top of a home-made cold-frame.

My potting table is made from an old steel door.

My potting shed is a recycled storage shed. It used to sit down on the edge of the woods (a mistake, because snakes liked to live in it) but we didn't use it much after building the barn-style garage in 2004. After a lot of nagging, Tim finally moved it up the hill to the flat land near the house. Then he put in a new, snake-proof floor, painted it to match the barn, added 4 small windows and a small front porch and turned it into a really nice potting shed. You wouldn't believe how nice that rusty old (ancient!) storage shed looked by the time it was all fixed up.

Friends of ours removed a picket fence a few years ago and gave most of it to one of their friends who'd asked for it. They called and asked if we wanted the rest. Of course we said yes! That picket fence is cute and surrounds the small garden next to my potting shed.

Last year, at our VFD Garage Sale, I bought a hanging pot rack someone was getting rid of and hung it in my shed to use for the drying of herbs and flowers. I also bought an old wooden ladder for $2, painted it plum purple to match my metal lawn chairs (purchased for $5 apiece at an earlier VFD garage sale) and grew purple hyacinth beans on it last year. It looked great.

I save old rusted-out wagons and wheelbarrows, fill them with soil and grow plants in them. Since an old wheelbarrow can be rickety, I hammer rebar into the ground and attach the wheelbarrow to it to give the barrow some stability.

When old watering cans turn leaky and beyond repair, I spray paint them to match my other containers, fill them with a growing medium, and grow plants in them.

Of course, all compostables are composted.

I use cardboard and newspaper on the surface of the ground as a weedblock, and heap mulch on top of it.

We recycle our chicken coop litter (straw plus chicken manure and urine) into the compost pile.

For mulch, we collect grass clippings from the lawn and add them to the beds every week. In the fall, I rake up leaves and run over them with the lawn mower to chop them up, then use them as mulch too. We also use them in the garden pathways with paper or cardboard underneath. All season long that mulch decomposes. In fall or winter after the garden production has ceased for the year, I scoop up all the compost from the pathways and add it to the beds. You wouldn't believe how much a decade of doing this has improved our formerly red clay soil. In some areas that consistently receive an annual dose of compost, we need have a blackish-brown clayey loam.

Whenever possible, I save old furniture and kitchen utensils to use in the potting shed or garage. Old measuring cups, for example, can be used to measure out soil amendments or fertilizers. Old shelving or tables work well in the garage or shed for storage.

I recycle my DH's old cotton long-sleeved dress shirts as garden shirts. I wear them over my regular clothes to protect my arms and neck from excessive sun exposure. When they are too stained and torn up to wear any longer, I compost them or send them to the barn's rag bag.

I save colored glass bottles for my bottle tree.

There's so many ways to save and reuse so much of the stuff we Americans typically throw into the trash. The ones I mentioned are some of my favorites. My parents and grandparents learned to be thrifty during the Great Depression so I grew up in a family that believed in reusing everything they could. So did Tim. To this day, Tim and I save and reuse all sorts of things, including the little twist ties that come on loaves of bread, yogurt cups, etc. We grew up familiar with the old slogan:

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

Dawn

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clipped on: 01.09.2012 at 01:04 am    last updated on: 01.09.2012 at 01:05 am