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.



* * January * *

Tasty food grows @ 0 degrees Fahrenheit

Let’s take a look at a few snow-hardy vegetables that can last through the winter.


Leeks. Here is a hardy vegetable that isn’t bothered by winter’s short days. Leeks can grow well during the cold months. Bandit and Bleu de Solaise varieties are favorable for winter leeks, as well as “blue-green” kinds that can survive down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 Celsius.

Kale and collards. Both of these vegetables are rich in flavor. Collards are actually more freeze-tolerate than kale. Blue Max is a favored variety, and has high yields and can survive in winter temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius. Other hardy types are Red and White Russian Kale, which do best when covered in the winter.

Parsnips. Sugars accumulate in parsnips when there is a frost, and snow can actually make parsnips sweeter. They keep well in the winter ground. They take 130 days to grow. Parsnips should still be covered in freezing temperatures to ensure success, and the lowest temperatures parsnips do well in are 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius.

Lettuce. Young lettuce plants tend to tolerate cold temperatures better than mature plants. Keep lettuce plants protected, either by cold frames, hoops or tunnels. Lettuce can survive in temperatures down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or -12 degrees Celsius.  If you cover the plants with multiple layers, lettuce can survive down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius. 

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News