Thursday, April 14, 2011

A "Green" Garden - Part 1

As most of you know we live in the city, because of this we have a very very small back yard, and we use about half of it for our veggie garden.  But because of the space limits (not to mention the house next to us blocks out part of the sun light) we had to come up with creative ways to grow "cool things". (We grew corn for the first time last year. It was only enough for two BBQ dinners, but man was it good.)

We have a couple really "cool things"  built or are currently building for the back yard, that we will share this year, including a (this will be number 2 and 3 for us) DIY rain barrel ( If you don't have one you NEED one!!) and recycled green house. But since we are just getting our seedlings started we thought we would share two really easy project you can make at home. Plus it will eliminate buying more plastic by using the plastic you already have.

While we were picking out our seeds for this year and grabbing some extra soil, we were talking about using plant markers this year.  Don't get us wrong, it is not hard to tell the tomato plant from the pepper plant, but when we first start we tend to forget what herb we planted where and did we plant the tomatoes in these two rows or those two rows.  Plus this year we planted 3 different types of lettuce and wanted to make sure we remember which ones worked and which ones tasted good.  We found the markers....and yep.... they are made of PLASTIC.  Less then 2 bucks for six "durable plastic" markers. What a joke. The slate ones were 22 bucks for six.  Yikes!!  Just down the aisle were the water buckets.  The metal watering cans were 14 to 25 dollars and some were more decorative then useful.  The majority of the watering buckets..Plastic....Plastic and More Plastic.  If you know us or keep up with the blog you know we HATE plastic and do our best to not buy any more then we absolutely have to.

So instead of buying more plastic we are going to make our plant markers and a watering can. Fair warning....this project is super simple!!

Here is what you need.

Containers, one with a handle.
(Pictured is one milk jug and two laundry detergent bottles. On a side note, we make our own laundry detergent so we had a family member, who does buy it, save the containers for us when they were empty.)
X-ato Blade
Cardboard (we used a record sleeve)
Permanent Marker (not pictured)

(One more note before we start. The milk and laundry containers are both no.2 plastic and can be recycled here in town. However we have been reading a couple studies that are suggesting it is just as costly, both in terms of money and environmentally, to recycle plastic as it is to produce new plastic. So every chance we get to reuse or upcycle the plastic we do bring home, we jump on it. )

First wash out the containers really.. really... really good!

Once it is clean, take the lid off of the container.

With the hammer and nail pound in several holes into the lid.

(20 some holes is good)

When you are done, screw the lid back on.

Take the bottle and with the X-ato blade cut an air hole just above the handle.

And that is it, instant water can.  Fill it with rain water from your rain barrel and away you go. 

See we told you SIMPLE!!  (It may not be a fancy water can, but we don't need fancy we need function.)

Can it get any easier???  Oh yes it can!!

Start with the piece of cardboard and draw a template of the plant marker.

We wanted ours big so we just traced the ruler.

Add the tip at the end.

Then cut out the template.

At this point we realized our marker was...well..maybe....a little to big.

So... we cut it in half.

Now take another container and cut out all the flat parts you can.

Once you have all the plastic you can use (make sure you recycle the left over pieces) place the template on top and trace around it.

Then cut out the markers.

(We ended up with about 15 markers out of the milk jug)

And close to 30 from the laundry jug. (not all pictured)

Now label them with the permanent marker and you are all done!

Recycling/Upcycling is so awesome!! This project is so simple, so there is no need to spend your "green" to go "green"!!  HA!!


  1. Any suggestions for my growing pile of baby formula containers? Love the ideas so far!

  2. I think we can come up with a couple ideas!!


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