From the ground up: Recycle, reuse in summer gardens

Tips for giving your old mini blinds, tuna cans and ties new life

The weather is not allowing us to garden, so some of us may be forced into cleaning, sorting and organizing our homes. In sorting through and discarding your extras, consider saving some items to be used in your gardening endeavors.

What can you reuse?

  • If you have mini blinds, save the slats for labeling your plants. Cut the slats into appropriate lengths and label with a paint pen, not a permanent marker. Paint pens can be purchased at a craft or farm supply store. The pens found at farm supply stores are often used to mark the ear tags on cattle and are very weather resistant. One mini blind will supply you with lots of plant markers.
  • Ties for your plants also are easily created from existing materials. Reused fleece fabric or socks are perfect. You also can prepare for gardening days by cutting the fabric into strips and stuffing the strips into an old sock. Cut a hole in the toe of the sock (or use the hole that is already there) and the strips can be quickly pulled out for ease of use when your plants need to be tied up.
  • Save small, shallow tuna or chicken cans. These can be sunk into your garden, filled with beer, and will serve as fatal swimming pools for those nasty slugs. Yogurt containers work great for this task as well. Save your newspapers to place under mulch to deter weeds from sprouting and growing in your garden. Shredded papers make a great addition to your compost pile. Containers with shaker tops, such as those from spices or seasoning salt, can be readied now by filling them with cayenne pepper to deter rabbits, ground squirrels, or other varmints from feasting on your plants. If you have an abundance of varmints, consider buying cayenne pepper in bulk because it will need to be reapplied after every rain.
  • Save large ketchup or salad dressing bottles with squirt tops to use to water your new seedlings. This allows for a gentle watering without washing the seed or seedling out of the ground. Empty spray bottles, thoroughly cleaned out, also make great misters for your plants.

So even with having your garden under snow and not available for cultivation now, you can dream, plan and get ready for that busy time, which will be here soon. Pleasant dreams.

For gardening questions, call the Linn County Extension Hortline at (319) 447-0647.

Judy Stevens is a Linn County Master Gardener.

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