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Milk jug gardening


Gardeners who practice pennywise gardening are usually vigorous and creative recyclers - or reusers or repurposers - and the spring seed planting season is a good time to investigate the many opportunities to put some common plastic products to good use.

Let's take a quick inventory of the plastic we might throw away...but could use.

The plastic milk bottle (clear soda bottles also work)can be used as a plant
cloche (see below) to create an artificial environment for a young plant. Rember to cap the 'cloche' at night and open it in the morning. Thought must also be given to securing the jugs against wind. Some push a stick through the top; others push dowels or thin rods into the ground on each side of the jug. 

Because seedlings need tender care and some water sprayers can be quite harsh, a milk jug can be turned into an effective fine-spray waterer for tender sprouts. Using an electric drill (or heat a finishing nail over a flame) make a series of fine holes either in the lid of the jug (see at left) or near the neck of the jug (see below right).

The bottom third of a milk jug (with holes added for drainage) is a good seed-starting container.

The plastic 'clam shells' (see below) that contain bean sprouts and various greens are also good seed starting containers.

When it comes time for the first transplanting of the seedlings, many people find that yogurt cups, paper and styrofoam drink cups as well as home made pots from newspaper are all inexpensive and effective. (A note: home-made newspaper pots do NOT require drainage holes. Paper, plastic and foam cups do.)

Some final thoughts: seed starting trays and transplanting pots all need drainage holes. The exception is the newspaper pots. Always use a light, sterile potting soil or a commercial seed starting mix.

 

News

Shade and gardens.  My mind has been turned to the subject of fruit and shade trees in a garden. There are those who say that trees shade the garden too much, and interfere with the growth of the vegetables. There may be something in this: but when I go down the potato rows, the rays of the sun glancing upon my shining blade, the sweat pouring from my face, I should be grateful for shade. What is a garden for? The pleasure of man. I should take much more pleasure in a shady garden. Am I to be sacrificed, broiled, roasted, for the sake of the increased vigor of a few vegetables? The thing is perfectly absurd. 

      If I were rich, I think I would have my garden covered with an awning, so that it would be comfortable to work in it. It might roll up and be removable, as the great awning of the Roman Coliseum was,—not like the Boston one, which went off in a high wind. Another very good way to do, and probably not so expensive as the awning, would be to have four persons of foreign birth carry a sort of canopy over you as you hoed. And there might be a person at each end of the row with some cool and refreshing drink. Agriculture is still in a very barbarous stage. I hope to live yet to see the day when I can do my gardening, as tragedy is done, to slow and soothing music, and attended by some of the comforts I have named. These things come so forcibly into my mind sometimes as I work, that perhaps, when a wandering breeze lifts my straw hat, or a bird lights on a near currant-bush, and shakes out a full-throated summer song, I almost expect to find the cooling drink and the hospitable entertainment at the end of the row. But I never do. There is nothing to be done but to turn round, and hoe back to the other end.

from My Summer in a Garden