January 30, 2009: Don't Throw That Away!!

Cheryl's Garden Goodies had a great blog on "garbage to garden" this week. It has prompted me to give a few of my hints at salvaging some of the common items I find in my kitchen and/or pantry. They usually consist of those nasty plastics that we would like to keep out of our landfills. That isn't feasible in most cases, so maybe we can at least have them do double duty, therefore extending the time they serve as useful items and possibly keeping us from purchasing even more plastic for our gardening use.

First on the list is my bleach jug that is used to make mini-markers for my seedlings.

Remove the label and rinse it out.

Cut off the top (save it, it can be used as a funnel!). Cut strips about 1/2" wide
all around, cutting through the ridge near the bottom.

Cut around the bottom ridge, releasing the strips from the jug.
Cut one end of each strip into a point. Use a waterproof marker for the labels.

I got 29 markers and a funnel for Mr. H to use for his oil changes on our cars. The bottom of the jug could be used as a saucer under your seedlings (see my last recycling hint).


Next comes the containers in which I buy our bunny greens during the winter, when I can't get them from my garden. These come full of Spring Greens, and I buy them for around $5-6. The containers are quite sturdy, so I use them and reuse them in the kitchen, but they also make great mini-greenhouses for seed starting:

Just empty, rinse it out and soak off the labels.

Turn the top upside down to use as a base. Set your seedlings on it, snap the bottom over the base. If it needs to be vented, just unsnap the top of your greenhouse and prop it up a bit on each side.


Number three is a no brainer. If you (or friends and family) ever go to motels or hotels, be sure to have everyone hoard those disposable shower caps that are found in every bathroom!

They make mini-greenhouses over pots, even those that are 12" or more across. They allow the containers to be set outside in the sun, even on windy days, and provide protection for your seedlings. Of course, you probably want something in your pot, not just a funny frog hanging from the side of an empty one!


My final tip for the day is (so far) untried. I have high hopes that it works well, though.

I recently bought a lot of Campbell's Soup at Hand that happened to be on sale. My granddaughter also consumes these as an after school snack, and her mother finds them handy as a "diet food", so I've asked them to save the containers for me.

First I eat the soup (duh). Then I remove the covering and wash the container.

Next, I cut the container on the line that is near the bottom.

I drill drainage holes in the small section. The lid has ready made drainage holes for the larger section.

The small section holds seed starting mix, the larger section contains potting soil. Once the seedlings are ready to pot, they will be moved from the small section into the larger section to grow until they are ready to go into the garden.

I had thought the larger section might make a good cutworm collar if it were inserted into the ground around the plant, but I see the metal ring might have to be destroyed or the plastic sides cut for easy plant removal. I'll know for sure once I've tried this method.


  1. Granny,

    These are all great idea's. I have a few of my own that I did this week... I'll share on my blog this weekend... keep them coming.


  2. I'm looking forward to your blog, Liisa. At this rate, with our reusing, recycling and composting, we can do something about reducing our footprint on this Earth!

  3. Dang....that's good stuff, Granny! I'm gonna have to come up with a clorox bottle for just the same purpose. I've been saving all kinds of containers too, but my wife recently told me to stop..... :-( party pooper.... Anyway, thank you very much for sharing! BTW, how did I do on the berry syrup?


  4. Dang, EG...you went and sneaked in that post about the syrup while my WIFI was down, and I missed it! I'm headed your way to comment right now.

  5. I like the bleach bottle markers. I save all my clear containers too. I've still got some things going around in my head too. I think we'll have lots to share with each other.

  6. Me too, Cheryl. And isn't it nice that we have blogs for sharing our ideas! Sometimes it's such a simple thing, but just never dawns on us to do it.

  7. Great idea on the plant markers. I also like to lettuce box greenhouse.

  8. That's good thinking with the bleach bottle. I will have to remember that one when I run out of labels. My teacher in school used old mini blinds for labels. I recall him setting the whole class to work cutting them up, then cleaning them in anticipation for the greenhouse planting.

  9. Dan, Cheryl's Garden Goodies has a post this week about using the mini-blind slats, and I have two blinds that need to be shortened so I'll be using that hint.

  10. Thanks for these great tips! I especially love the soup container one. Also the bleach jug.

  11. You're welcome, Kathy. Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog and your wonderful dog with us!

  12. Granny is one outstanding lady !

    I've been reading your blog these last few days starting from Day 1. (Sorry about all these late posts ! lol) Let me just say, you are one terrific gardener and your talent as a blogger is remarkable !

    Having just finished reading January, I simply wanted to wish you a belated B-Day. (You never did mention when that was ?) I hope you had a wonderful celebration on that milestone day. :)

  13. LOL, Anonymous, I'm running out of breath trying to keep up with you!!! Thank you for all the compliments, I really appreciate them.

    I was born in Lewiston, Idaho on 26 Jan 1939. I think Mr. H took me out to HIS favorite restaurant for dinner on my 70th ;-)