Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Putting Plastic To Work

I'm always looking for ways to keep my daily trash from going out with the trash.  By thinking "outside the box" many throw aways can be remade into useful garden items.  Today’s project turns gallon milk jugs and 1.3 gallon vinegar jugs into funnels, scoops and seed trays. 
Materials for this project are:
Milk jugs
Vinegar jugs
Exacto knife (or other sharp knife)
3” nail
Towel or work gloves (to protect hands)

I started this project with the milk jugs.  For shallow trays that you can use under pots or for seed starting use a marking pen to make a line about 2-3 inches from the bottom.  This can be most easily accomplished by placing a pen horizontally on some coasters or books and rotating the jug in a circle around it.  Use the exacto knife to cut around the jug.  Use the top part of the milk jug (with the lid on) as a scoop for fertilizer or potting soil.  The top can also be used as a mini green house when pushed into the soil around your seedlings.  Take the lid off during the day to keep your plants from burning, and put the lid back on at night to keep the heat in.  You can also cut out the back flat panel of the jug to make planting markers.  Use an old plastic marker as a guide, or try your talents free hand.

I cut the top off of one of the vinegar jugs to use as a scoop or funnel.  I used a nail to place holes randomly in the lower part of the jug.  Using gloves or a towel will help push the nail through without hurting your hands.  Bury the bottom part of the jug into the soil to irrigate your plants slowly and deeply or fill with manure or compost and add water to get nutrients down to the roots.   Your plants will love it!  
With the second vinegar jug I made a deep seed starting tray (about 4 inches deep) saving the top for a green house in the garden. 
From 4 jugs I made:                                                                                                                            4 plant markers, 2 pot saucers, 1 seed starting tray, 2 scoops or funnels, 1 drip irrigator/fertilizer and 2 green house/plant cloches.  Not a bad return from something that is usually thrown away. 

Inspiration for these tips came from Yvonne Savio from the Los Angeles Master Gardeners program.  She  teaches a course on reusing items in the garden and is a wealth of knowledge.

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