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The Plastic Container - working against design  RSS feed

 
Amit Enventres
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Location: Ohio, USA
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Nothing says unsustainable more dramatically than a bunch of plastic bottles being toted to the landfill (okay- maybe there are a few more dramatic examples). I've always foraged the recycling can for better uses than future soil bulk. I've posted how to turn plastic bags into a weave-able material, now it's time for the bottles.

Need to water slowly? If you aren't in sand, fill a nice juice container (can also be done with used glass bottles) and dig a shallow hole big enough to shove the muzzle of the bottle in. Quickly flip and shove so that the bottle is up-side down with it's nose in the ground (like a dachshund on the hunt). put in a cork if you have trouble viewing water level. It should slowly leek into the ground around it. Your soil type will determine the area of watering. If you're curious how affective shove something in the ground and check the moisture.

Dang slugs got my cabbage! Slugs 1, Amit 0. Time for plan B (or was it F?). Now you'll need plastic unless you have a way to cut through glass bottles. Cut off the bottom of your juice can and stick it over the little seedling (preferably before the slugs get to it and definitely while the slug isn't there). It's working so far. Also works against other animals, but not 2 year old humans. They tend to think it fun to re-arrange the covers.

Frost protection? Place the bottle, but put a thin piece of fabric and a rubber band (or some siding holes and the lid) so that you get a little air circulation, but not the frost. I think you can forget the frills on light frosts, but hard ones require extra support.

Need a watering container? We all know that the best way to water seedlings is with that light rainy pitter-patter. Well, a 50 dollar watering can wasn't in my budget so I guzzled the remaining milk in the gallon container, made nail-sized holes at the neck opposite the top of the handle. I made a small, robin's egg sized hole above the handle, unscrewed the lid, filled her up, screwed the lid back on, and rained the water lightly on the seedlings. Even fits in a 5 gallon bucket for faster (submerged) re-fills. No seedling complained of the pressure and the watering was done in just the amount of time I have patience for.

Supposedly there's ways to hook plastic bottles to hoses and turn them into sprinklers (haven't tried)

They have also been used for lighting & housing, but I haven't tried this either - yet.

They can be used for wicking pots or seedling pots (but I prefer used toilet paper tubes (and so do the earthworms)).

They make rattles and (when attached nose-to-nose with some food coloring and oil) they make good toddler toys.

Not that plastic bottles are the answer, but while your still unable to survive off your back-yard, you might as well re-use


 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Certainly some good ideas there. And while eventually we might be looking for no plastic (at least not from petroleum), in the meantime it makes lots of sense to get all the use out of them we can before letting them go off to the landfill.
I have also found that a hole or two in a plastic bottle lid makes for a good watering can. I had never heard of the hose sprinkler, but I can imagine how It would work and I like that one quite a bit.

I expect you could also bury a bottle every so often, with the mouth just above ground level and with a few holes in the sides and bottom, making an in-ground watering device.

I am sure there are a myriad ways to use them, I know I have even seen them used filled with earth to make building blocks!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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I'm all for keeping plastic out of waste stream. Even when it goes to be "recycled" - is it really? I posted this on another thread about social justice and pollution but it belongs here too. Let's get as much reuse out of this stuff as possible if we have to have it around.

 
Steve Laubach
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I'm experimenting with using 1 gal HDPE jugs for Kratky aquaponics. Basically, I'm using water from my aquarium as nutrient and the jug as a container using the Kratky method (zero energy hydroponics). You just have to cover the container with something to block light (leaving the plant popping out the top of course) to avoid an algae bloom.

I haven't done this before but I've seen videos where people did this and it worked. I'm growing cauliflower and basil this way currently.
 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 458
Location: Ohio, USA
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Excellent TED Jennifer! Thanks for sharing! I shared it wih my family and we immediately switched to paper bags (when we forget our re-usables).
 
Paulo Carvalho
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Living in São Paulo there is clearly a lack of space to use for growing.
I'm -really- lucky to even have a garden in the front of the house I can 'take care of' (mostly observing the plants grow).

The solution I came up with is using used soda and water bottles to plant in.

this of course has limitations and i can't have some good big trees, but bonsai might work...
i'm planting mostly flowers, but some tomato seeds that went into my garden composting started sprouting, so i might even get some of those

a friend also used tetrapacks from milk and juice to plant a small herb garden
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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One year, right after I had transplanted out my tomatoes, the weatherman announced that we were expecting a frost that night. That evening, I filled several 1 and 2 liter pop bottles with hot tap water, and set them out, surrounding my plants. My cages were already in place, so I grabbed some dry-cleaners clear plastic bags, and set one over each cage. (Bubble wrap works better, but I already had the cleaners bags.)

Everything made it through the frost, and I now had a small supply of water jugs right where I needed to water anyways.

 
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