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Monday, February 9, 2015

How-to Recycled and Cheap Starting Pots for Spring Planting.

Annual Update

With Spring just around the corner its time to start your plants. I thought it might be a good time to update and share this post from 9/16/13 on how to make super cheap and handy starting pots for your plants

The Perfect (Recycled) Pot For Starting Cuttings Or Making Cheap Planting Pots

Sometimes we have to make a better mousetrap.   I like all the ideas on Pinterest but I also like to deal with and use what I have at hand. Many of the posts on Pinterest use two liter bottles as miniature greenhouses At my house people drink pop from cans so I do not have a supply of two liter bottles.  My good luck is that they drink a lot of milk.  So rather than throw the bottles away I have learned to make starter containers out of them.  The milk jugs have several advantages over the two liter bottles.You will notice the bottles have indents on the sides. The indents help keep the lids in place when it is windy. Some don’t have the indents but that is not a problem.

The first picture shows what a container looks like.

 The markings in picture two show how and where the cut lines are.  Yes it takes two bottles to make one container, but hey you were going to throw it away anyhow right.  If I run short I go to the recycle center and get a trash bag full for nothing or next to nothing.  If you ask friends to save them for you they will be coming out your ears.  One word of advice as it may be awhile before you use them.  Rinse them out before you store them.



For the top you cut above the handle and then down each side of the handle and go down maybe three quarters of the way. You want it to cover the container and keep out the weather.

Pictures three and four show what the two separate cuts look like. Notice picture three the cut goes down the corners.  Picture five lets you see that the cap cut leaves a lot of the back on so it can help hold the cap on the container. The key is how you cut the handle.  On the pot part of the container you want to save the handle so you can use it to move the container when you have to.  The lid however does not need the handle but a little tab of it helps line it up when you put the cover on.   When you cut the container, you cut between the cap and the handle.  Then you cut to the top of the shoulders on each side of the jug.  Then down about a quarter of the way.  You can adjust this based on what you are starting.  I like to have four to five inches of dirt. I usually put four to five rose cuttings in each container.  With butterfly bushes I only put two or three.  Some plants I only put one cutting in.  That is up to you.  Cuttings on some plants are easy to do.  Others the success rate is not as high.  If you are successful and several take off, simply re-pot them once they have a well established root system and keep them in the pots till they are read to go into the ground


Drainage slits in the bottom do not have to be big or fancy, but they are important for plant health and growth.  Most plants don't like wet feet. Cutting the slits in the bottom lets excess water move on through the pot, just like rain does in the soil.

The upside of these containers is that they are cheap and it keeps plastic out of the landfill, at least for a while.  The down side is you can’t see the plant very well without removing the cover but the cover is very easy to take off and to put back. That is a plus to this design that you can open it to the weather when you want. Another benefit is they do not get quite as hot as the clear plastic.  I used to buy pots for taking my plants to market.  Doing them this way I can sell them a little cheaper.  If you want to you can take them to market in the milk container and the handle makes them real easy move around and load.  You can also write on the plastic what kind of plant it is.  I use spray paint to color code my plants.  Especially stuff like melons and gourds that all look very similar at the start of the growing cycle. I grow eight kinds of gourds and each type has its own color on the pot.  This helps avoid confusion.

Some plants are more sensitive to transplant shock than others.  Sometimes I grow plants bigger in the container to make them sell better. I tell people to cut on the dotted line and put their hand in under the plant and just ease it out.  No stress or damage to the plant occurs this way.  Of course you can’t reuse the container if you cut it(Unless you believe in duct tape) but hey it was trash when it started and to trash it has returned   It is the old ashes to ashes and dust to dust thing .

Another point learned the hard way. When I take them inside and sit them on the window ledge I put them in an old pie tin to prevent water damage.  I like to use the Tennessee Spinner Gourds to make hanging baskets.  They have pretty yellow blooms and will trail down nicely.  The one at the bottom is full size.  They get about the size of an egg or a little smaller. When dried they make nice little tops if you spin them right. Which is where the name Spinners comes from. The hanging plant below is a Tennessee Spinner Plant

These are totally recyclable and you can use them year after year or till the plastic becomes brittle.  Using a pie tin also allows you to put them in a macrame or wire hanger and put them up off the cold ground and out of the weather.You can get the pans at yard sales and Good Will or the Salvation Army.  Sometimes I will make the ultimate sacrifice and actually eat a pie.

It is important to pay attention to where you put the containers.  While plants love sunshine, cuttings need TLC and just subdued light part of the day is usually fine.  Direct sun can have the undesired effect of turning the container into a microwave oven and finish the plant before it gets started.

With Spring Just Around the Corner Watch For my Post on How to build your own like the one in the picture

Portable $150 Greenhouse like the one pictured. Easy to make, move and store. My most recent post shows the portable greenhouse in more detail. Unfortunately the price has grown to $239 because of inflation over the years.

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