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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.

 

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Root cellars are making a comeback! Having fresh food without electricity has great advantages for those interested in food security. We’ve had so many power outages where we live (the electricity lines going through forest trees) that having food on hand that isn’t dependent on electricity is a major bonus. Although I’m trying to grow food year-round and have awesome fall and winter gardening (even with northern winters & snow!) there is a point that the snow becomes too deep and crops are harvested and stored in root cellars.