In the early hours of Wednesday 19th August, a figure dressed in dark, hooded attire was sighted loitering about the “junkie end” of a local residential zone. Since this cool winter morning, the person in question has become known to local residents as a regular offender. “A really trashy customer” said one eyewitness. Citizens have been advised to maintain a vigilant watch for further rubbish behavior and to report suspicious activity to the relevant authority.
The rain has come. The soil is warming. The tulips have done their dash and showy rose inflorescence are in full bloom, releasing their sweet, ambrosial scent to the breezy, cool-climate air. Spring is finally in full swing!
If one wishes to get ahead in the summer vegetable garden stakes, then starting early is always going to be a winning move. For our family, the tail end of winter – when wallowing in cold, damp soil is about as enticing as a caterpillar laden dish of cabbage pie – proves perfect for flexing those green thumbs and sowing those summer seeds in pots.
At the age of ten, my life took a rather rancid turn. Desperate to claim my “free” branded cotton tee, I was willing to consider just about anything to collect the requisite number of crisp packet tokens. So when my mother refused to yield to my charming acumen and then indefatigable begging for crisps to be included in our school lunch box, I took her refuseal litter-alley: to the bins located behind our local sports and aquatic centre. For three swimming training weeks in a row I would stealthily make my way out the emergency exit doors and rummage through the trash, collecting as many crisp packets as I could before racing to catch my ride home with the unsuspecting neighbours. Since my mother never asked, I didn’t feel the need to disclose the details of my trendy tee-shirt acquisition.
This year, in an effort to avoid the shopping hoards and to keep more dollars in our pockets, I reignited my love of refuse – and it’s fetid, potential-for-greatness contents – and got creative about growing seedlings in our (and our neighbours’) trash. Yep. That’s right. This season I shunned the store bought pots and became a true-blue rubbish, offender. From the depths of our housing complex’s skip bin, I present to you a trio of upcycling ideas to arrest ones pot buying habit:
Unfortunately, very few retailers have the capacity to collect used egg cartons, so many make their way to landfill instead. Prompted by a sprouting idea from K1’s classroom teacher, our family’s long standing staple – used to make forts, treasure boxes and craft creations – now has a use as an egg carton seed raising pot too. To use, simply fill the cavities two-thirds full with good quality potting or seed raising mix, then lightly sprinkle over the seeds. Add a dash more soil, water and then wait. After a couple of weeks, when the shoots have grown their first set of true leaves, transfer the contents of each cavity to larger pots and grow your way to produce planting victory.
Extra, extra, read all about it! Thanks to all those dedicated textgenerians, who keep our local rag in printing business, we have a steady supply of newspaper: perfect for making biodegradable pots. Whilst I don’t plant the pot in the ground (I have found the roots struggle to penetrate the thick paper layers), I take comfort in knowing that my worms lavish in the carbon rich contents of the discarded addition to their home. To make the pots, fold in half one full sheet of tabloid style newspaper. Place a tin can (both ends open) on the long edge, and loosely roll the sheet around the can.
Push the excess newspaper up into the base of the can and then flatten it using the end of a wooden spoon, until a pot shape is achieved. Slip out the can and seed sow away.
If it wasn’t for my family’s voracious appetite for all things dairy, we would just about be living the waste free dream. As a slight reprieve from that guilty, rubbish conscience, our upcycling adventures saw us using most of a two litre milk carton to create a four chambered planting pot. To make, cut around the outside of the carton 7-9 cm from the base. Cut two rectangles from the flats sides of the carton 7-9cm in height and the width of the carton. Slit each rectangle in the middle then join them together to make a cross. Drill some drainage holes in the base of the carton, place the crossed rectangles in the center and then fill with potting soil. Seed, water, wait and then re-pot or just plant your stellar seedlings straight into your food or flower growing paradise.
So there you have it, three ways to reap the mother-nature rewards of becoming a trashy offender. May your vegetable patch realise a bountiful harvest for all your keen-green, scandalous habits!