Before you throw away that milk carton or those plastic utensils, stop – these and other items can be recycled for use in your garden.
An amazing number of discarded objects can be repurposed for the garden. If you put your mind to it, no doubt you may even find more.
Here are a few suggestions:
Plastic utensils like forks, spoons and knives are perfect for a number of uses in the yard. Simply save the utensils from your next backyard barbecue and you’ll have plenty. Plastic knives are great for opening bags of potting mix or fertilizer; spoons can be used for mixing fertilizer or soil amendments in small containers, or measuring dissolvable fertilizers like Miracle-Gro.
You can also use these handy items to loosen seedlings from flats so that their tender roots aren’t damaged.
Any plastic utensil also makes a good garden marker – simply write on the handle with a felt pen and stick in the soil to make note of which seedlings are where.
Popsicle sticks also make good garden markers.
Cardboard milk cartons can be used in several ways. Cut off the bottom of a milk carton and use it as a container in which to start seedlings. You can also cut off the middle section to protect seedlings that are out in garden beds.
Plastic milk jugs have all kinds of uses in the garden. I always have a few on hand to use for watering plants or mixing water-soluble fertilizers. To allow the water to dribble out slowly, cut several small holes in the cap, and place the cap end closest to the plant’s roots.
Cut off the bottoms to make seed-starting containers or saucers for pots.
Those bottomless jugs can be placed over garden seedlings to protect them (particularly good for blocking birds, cutworms and snails that might want to eat them). The jugs can also be used if there is a worry about cold temperatures or frost to seedlings.
Another use: Dig a hole next to a plant, place the mouth of the bottomless jug in the hole, and fill with water. This way, you have a means to slowly dispense water to the plant for deep root growth.
Clear plastic berry containers – the kind with hinged lids – are great for storing seed packets. Because the containers typically have small holes in the bottom, air can circulate and your seeds won’t sprout or get moldy. You can also see exactly what you have at a glance.
Plastic dry cleaning bags can be placed over a newly seeded garden bed to protect the seeds as they germinate. You’ll need to stake or place rocks along the sides of the bag to hold it in place.
Yogurt containers, eggshells, and toilet paper rolls all make great containers in which to start seedlings. Keep eggshells in the egg cartons that they originally came in to keep them upright.