Happy Earth Day! I feel like every day is Earth Day around our house, so I like to always take this day to just share a few things we are doing to be green, save some green, and grow some green. We have a backyard compost (which I have talked about here), we recycle way more than we throw away, but my favorite part of the famous earth-friendly trio, is reuse. When we can reuse items to plant gorgeous veggie plants, I feel like we're going green x2. Perhaps the best thing about reusing items is that it always means saving money--my favorite thing to do!
If you haven't started some seeds inside for your garden this year, Earth Day is the perfect time to get them planted. Set them in a sunny window for the next few weeks, until it's safe to plant outside and you'll enjoy a jump start on the season. Tons of items that you would normally recycle can be reused first as excellent planters. Here's a few we've been using:
Next time you stop by Starbucks (or anywhere with a plastic to-go cup), wash and save the cup, lid and straw, all three can be used to make an awesome mini greenhouse!
Anytime you use a water tight container, you need to make sure to cut a hole for water drainage, otherwise you run the risk of root-rot. Just use a craft knife to cut an "X" in the bottom, or cut a tee-pee shape and press in, to make a triangular opening.
Fill a little more than half-way with potting soil, and plant your seeds.
Water gently, and snap the top on. Press a finger through the straw opening to loosen it up and make sure some air/heat can escape. Now you have a little greenhouse that will keep the soil temperature extra warm and moist, which helps your seeds sprout faster!
Place your greenhouse cup in the sun and watch it steam up. If you do several cups with different seeds, you can use sticker labels or write directly on the cup so you'll always know what's what. To keep from over watering, just spray your soil every other day with a spray bottle. This light watering also means you shouldn't have any water dripping out the bottom yet. See how the sides are steamed up?
In a week or less, you should see a little sprout and you are on your way! You can remove the lid once seeds sprout, or keep the lid on until you get the second set of leaves, the ones that look like tiny tomato plant leaves. : )
When you remove the top, grab some packing or duct tape and cover over the straw opening on the top of the lid. Then turn it upside down and you have a saucer for your plant to catch the water that will run out the bottom (where you cut your drainage hole). Now you can start watering normally with a watering can or whatever you like to use. Once your plant is a few inches tall, insert a toothpick halfway in the soil next to it, and slip the straw over the toothpick. This will serve as a little support steak for the plant to keep it from falling over. Pretty cool huh? A whole green house kit, that you would have just thrown out (well, recycled of course).
I am a strong believer that everyone should have a garden. If you have so much as a tiny balcony you can have a one pot mini veggie garden. If you want to save a few dollars, it's so easy to start plants from seeds inside. Whether you are in a small space, or just don't have a lot of sunny windows for starting seeds inside, you can make a small window box using recycled containers. I like to use these salad boxes as a window box tray to put all the plants in and catch the water that drains out. Plus you can easily carry all your plants outside in one container for a little extra sun on warm days.
If I was planting just one or two pots on a small balcony or porch, I would have the window box below:
1 tomato (get a plant labeled "determinate" for best results in a pot)
1 4-pack of marigolds to attract pollinators and deter pests
2 small basil plants
These easily fit in one salad box.
You really only need to look as far as your fridge to get all the supplies you need to start your garden indoors. Yogurt containers make great pots, as the lids are perfect saucers, and the size gives your plant lots of room to grow. The Chobani containers would also work great as the greenhouse starters, with the clear lids they have.
If you really want to start early, you can plant your seeds in early March, but know that they will need a good size container to make it until at least Mother's day when it's safe (here in Colorado anyway) to transplant them outside. Gallon milk jugs work great, just cut off the top and use the bottom as a planter. Don't throw away the top half either; cut the top half into strips and it makes perfect water-proof plant markers!
Here's our peppers all with the milk jug plant markers, keeping everything organized, for free!
I hope you are finding ways to reduce, reuse and if all else fails, recycle. And even more than that filling your space with happy plants. I think the best way to go green is to grow green!
Have a happy week!