A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance and building stronger communities.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Re-Purposing Things

Most people have heard of the terms: Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. I just heard of a new term for something I've been doing for years and that is to "Re-Purpose". This means that you find a new purpose for things than they were originally intended, thereby keeping them out of the waste stream. Gardens provide fantastic opportunities for re-purposing. Below are some pictures of some of our re-purposed items.

Seedling starts in tofu containers. We drill holes in the bottom for drainage.



Cut a hook-shape off the ends of plastic coat-hangers. These make great hooks to keep soaker hoses in-place.


Twist-ties have hundreds of uses in the garden. Here we are fashioning a pole-bean trellis out of bamboo.



Here in the country, bailing twine is plentiful. We clip the bails close to the knots and then tie the twine end-to-end and wrap it around pvc-pipe for use in staking out rows etc. (A great rainy-day project or when it's too hot to be in the garden and you need an excuse to sit in the shade for a bit.)



Lastly, ever wonder what to use empty soy-milk containers for? We rinse them out really well, and pull them out flat (open up the folded corners and they flatten easily). You can cut them with scissors or, if you have access to a chop-saw, you can cut the ends off ten or more at-a-time.



When we first transplant young seedlings of lettuce or kale or any tender, young plants that are susceptible to cut-worms, slugs, bunnies or intense weather, we use the containers as a collar around the plant.

Check carefully to remove any slugs or unwanted bugs from around the base of the plant. Also pull away any clods of dirt or leaves they may be hiding under (you don't want to trap the pests in with your tender seedlings!) Open the container and  slip it around the plant and pin it in place with slender stakes, bamboo branches or some other narrow sticks at two corners. Make sure the collar comes in contact with the soil to keep insects from crawling underneath.  This technique also provides a micro-climate for your seedlings, protecting them from high winds. The foil liner of the containers reflect sunlight so the plants receive plenty of sun while they're small.


Soon they'll be peaking over the top and you can gently slip the collar off. Milk cartons work too. Milk cartons are also excellent to save for freezing applesauce and other liquid/semi-liquid foods. Because of their shape they are a very efficient use of freezer-space.


We'd love to see and share your ideas. Send us a photo and a short description and we'll share your ideas with others through our website. Just drop us an email: ShareInJoy@gmail.com -- Our website is http://www.TheSharingGardens.blogspot.com/

Below is a link to an interesting article about a guy who gave me the idea for the term: re-purposing. He has built a sail-boat out of soda and water-bottles (called "Plastiki"). He's using it to bring awareness to the environmental problems posed by single-use plastic bottles.
http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=3717

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