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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Reuse household containers in the garden

By Marc @ GardenDesk

It is always important to recycle what we can. Just as good, if not better, is reusing or re purposing what otherwise would become garbage. A big item in this category for me is using gallon plastic milk or water jugs in the garden. They are handy just to carry water to a plant in need, but my favorite way to use them as waterers is by turning them into drip waterers. Two years ago, those jugs are the only thing that got us through the worst drought in my lifetime.

In addition to using jugs as waterers, I like to use them for frost protection in early spring. One way is as makeshift wall-o-waters.

I fill up four or five jugs with water and surround a new seedling. The sun warms the water in the jugs during the day which provides the plant with warmth. Some of that heat is retained at night even, which helps the plant get through a cold night.

For even more protection from cold or frost, I cut the bottom out of the jugs and individually place them directly over the plants as cloches.

If I worry about too much heat building up, I leave the cap off.

That way, I can also peak inside without removing the jug.

I don't use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, but occasionally I mix up some strong compost tea for added nutrition. Gallon jugs are also good to use for this.

On GardenDesk I recently posted how I just added an area in my yard for extra tomatoes that will need a large amount of liquid compost.

I'm sure there are many other uses for jugs in the garden, but these are the few that came to mind. I encourage you to re-use other items in the garden too. It is fun to be creative, help the environment and save money all at the same time. I'd love to hear how you re-purpose items in for use in your garden.

Keep Growing!

Marc

14 comments:

The Old Gray Egg said...

Huh! I never thought of using the jugs as a substitute wall-o-water. Here in zone 3, I can use any season extender I can find. I wonder if it would help to spray paint the jugs black for added heat absorption.

Kate said...

@OGE: You could just tint the water with old tea bags, food coloring, or whatever to make them darker so they retain more heat.

Also, when using them as cloches, I like to *almost* cut off the bottom of the jug, leaving it attached to one of the four sides. Then I open the bottom, situate the jug over a plant with the bottom of the jug sticking off to one side. Then I place a rock on the bottom to tether the jug in place. Works pretty well if you have enough large rocks for all the plants you need covered.

Karen said...

In addition to milk jugs, I recycle gallon vinegar and vegetable oil jugs. Their primary use is as cloches but some have been turned into feed scoops. The round ones work best for this. I cut the bottoms off and slightly taper the side opposite the handle to resemble a commercial feed scoop.

NMPatricia said...

My biggest challenge in having these marvelous items for my garden is having enough containers. I don't have either milk or water gallon containers. The vinegar one is a great idea. However, those are few and far between. How sad/great it is to not have a bunch of these around!

James said...

I suggest adding a 3 inch layer of straw as mulch for your garden beds. Set your drip waterer on top of that and the mulch will help you maintain that water in the soil where you need it! Also will give your earthworms a better environment and they will help you get that soil tilled in no time!

Paula said...

Oh my gosh, this is a terrific idea! I can put this to use immediately, as we go through lots of milk jugs every week! Brilliant!

Tammy James said...

I love the wall o water idea! thanks!

livinginalocalzone said...

Wall o water, what a good idea. A lot of these posts are especially valuable for me, since I am a new gardener and this way I can start off with reusing right from the outset, and learn how household/other-purpose things have a life in the garden.

MAYBELLINE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MAYBELLINE said...

Make a diagonal cut at the base of the jug and convert it into a scoop. I use one for cleaning ashes from my BBQ. One is used for scooping potting soil. Another scoop is used for pet food.

Anonymous said...

NMPatricia: do you have community recycling containers? If so, you could simply help yourself to other people's jugs! I've found that most are ok--the milk jugs can be stinky, but I tend to pick out only the water and vinegar jugs :) Or, perhaps a neighbor/friend/family member could save them for you.

Going Green Mama said...

What a great idea! I never thought about using the milk jugs that way - I usually just recycle.

Joanne said...

I re-use plastic punnets from fruit for planting seeds. An old aquarium is my makeshift cold frame. It also keeps humidity because I do get busy and forget to water sometimes.
You could cut milk jugs lengthwise for seed-rasing trays.

Danidoodle said...

I saw a greenhouse design once that had tons of jugs full of water in the colder months to collect heat during the day and give it off at night.