Gardening Traditions

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Last weekend, the weekend of Mother’s Day, I gardened under blue skies and warm sunshine. I planted most of the flowers in the front garden—snapdragons, petunias, vinca, marigolds, and indigo salvia.   Last year I did the same thing.  Then the local rabbits then feasted on the tender seedlings.  Fat and happy, the entire Cottontail family flaunted their white tails at me and my dogs.  HMPH. And my front garden was much too bare when those flowers should have bloomed.

My mother and grandmother taught me to garden. They both fashioned cloches from milk cartons which dotted their gardens.  Neither one of them would have ever considered spending hard-earned money on a real cloche!

The first cloche I saw was Grandma’s made out of a milk carton. At that time milk cartons were made of card stock covered in wax.  Grandma cut off the top and the bottom, then used the middle to protect her plants.  Mom did the same thing.  When plastic milk jugs hit the grocery store, those were even better.  They cut off the bottom.  Those were ideal—just the right size and with a pre-existing vent in the top.

So guess who follows this tradition?   Each year I hoard my plastic jugs, cut off the bottoms, and protect my plants under the milk jug cloches.  In the past I have only used this for vegetables.  But I am weary of losing my flowers to these rabbits.  So this year my front garden is sprouting milk jug cloches.

Our neighbors stop by and ask us, “What’s with the milk jugs? Why do you do that?”  Then I explain the concept of a cloche and not spending the money on the real thing and thinking about Grandma when I garden.  And I feel connected to all those gardeners from generations past.

In a few weeks I will string all those milk jugs together, store them under the deck, and re-use them in the next season. I will enjoy spoiling those rabbits’ snacks.  Then when the flowers bloom, I will think about Grandma again, and how we used to tease her about saving money with the milk carton cloches. I also teased her about being a living yard butt. She used to  position herself bottom-side up in her flower garden, pulling weeds, loosening soil, and babying her flowers.  I smile as I think of that scene.  Then I bend over and pull a weed, my rear end high in the air, carrying on another great family gardening tradition.

What do you re-use around the house?

44 thoughts on “Gardening Traditions”

  1. I reuse plastic containers…from deli potato salad (I don’t like, don’t eat so purchase for husband)…good for leftovers. I reuse some medicine container….paints. My best reuse which has been part of our ‘table settings’ for years….certainly the 20+ at the cabin…glass containers become our glassware. Largest one from spaghetti sauce. Medium from peanut butter and jalapeño stuffed green olives. Smaller….and our wine glasses from Bonne Mamon preserves. Other small random from canned goods gifted us & any small containers we happen to like.

    Years ago when my nephew asked for a glass of water and I filled one for him…his response “This isn’t a glass!” To which I replied…”In our home it is,”

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Morning all! Plastic bags, aluminum foil, canning jars. I also keep my berry baskets from year to year – they are always surprised at the berry farm to see them. And at this time of year, I keep the carboard boxes that you get at Bachman’s – seems silly to just dump them into recycling when they are still perfectly good.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My father was really frugal and even reused his dental floss. He washed it after he used it and hung it up on a little hook in his bathroom.

    We met up with a high school friend of husband’s when we were in Tacoma, and she took home the plastic forks we were given at a bake shop when we had cupcakes. She stated she reuses them since they don’t decompose in the landfill.

    We use milk cartons for cutworm collars in the garden.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    The sun is shining. I love recycling the sunshine. It appears the newly planted stuff did not get washed away by the rain. So the sunshine should getting my babies growing.

    Btw, this is “Jacque gets to live” week. I am now to 27 years past cancer diagnosis this week. In March there was a Survivors conference sponsored by the Firefly Sisterhood. They said once a survivor makes it beyond 5-10 years, your life span is back to normal. Now I don’t know what to expect! My mom is 87, her mom went at 99 years. Suddenly everything looked different after that information. But good news.

    A re-used life.

    Liked by 12 people

  5. Early in the season, which up north was well into June, my mother’s garden looked like a junk yard. Old Charlie up the road used to keep coffee cans hanging on wires across the top of his root cellar.
    Used to reuse for gardening, woodworking, painting. Now I struggle to throw out small containers, such as yeast bottles. They built up until they are in my way, then I throw them all out and wait for them to build up again. I did a blog on this once. Speaking of yeast, I have mastered an artisan brown sugar whole wheat bread recipe of my own, although rather obvious.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Hi-
    There’s a pretty fine line between ‘This must be good for something’ and filling the basement with junk.
    I cleaned my in-laws basement; they saved bushel basket of corn cobs and sticks in case the power went out and they’d have to burn them to heat the house.
    Since we don’t have regular garbage / recycling service at our house I save up the glass and cans until I have a garbage can full then take to recycling. Which isn’t set up well and is a PITA.
    I’m thinking if I just did it weekly it might be easier than having bag in the garage.
    And those milk jugs; they take up so much room! I’ve put a string through the handle and crushed them and still end up with 10′ of milk jugs to haul in.
    Boy, do i sound grumpy today!

    We reuse old towels for the dogs. Old rugs or pillows go out for the outside dog to lay on.
    Take out food containers make good paint containers at the theaters.
    Most clothing goes down to costumes first.
    If I dismantle something, I’ll save parts for ‘props’.
    Five gallon oil buckets get cleaned and used for feed buckets.
    Scrap iron used to get repurposed as 4H art projects.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. its easier if you have a place for it. i think that may be the key. if its saving junk its bad if it goes to a worthwhile place its a great thing


  7. Timely post, Jacque! I just cut the bottoms out of some cardboard coffee cups and am using them as cloches around my fledgling nasturtiums that came up a few days ago, because it looks like SOMEONE has been nibbling the precious leaves… I like the milk cartons if there are the translucent, but I can only find the white opaque ones.

    Query – at what point, if ever, do you remove the cloches? Do the plants ever get big enough that the bunnies don’t bother them?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A gardener I visited in New Hampshire used them the other way around—spout down, like a funnel—alongside tomato plants. When watering, she would just fill up the jug and let the water percolate into the soil at its own pace.


  8. I am fortunate to live in the city of Minneapolis, which has a great recycling program, picking it up at the alley every other week (also compost, which they pick up every week). What is great about the recycling program is that you don’t have to sort stuff – it all goes in one big wheeled bin.

    That fine line Ben mentioned? It’s real: it’s easy to fill not just the basement, the also the attic, the garage, and every room in the house with junk, all in the name of “I’ll use that for something someday.” I find it better to haul it out to the recycling bin immediately if I don’t already know exactly how I’ll reuse it. i did organize a closet a while ago using just small boxes and other containers I already had around to corral the stuff – but there seems to be more than enough of that stuff around even when I try to keep on top of clearing stuff out, no need to hang onto stuff “just in case.”

    I do reuse plastic bags. But I hate washing them and it’s easy to get too many of those. I used to haul the extras to the co-op; they had a bin where you could put them for recycling. Now they no longer collect them – anyone have an idea of what I can do with them to get them recycled?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I always suspected the Cub bin was insincere– that ultimately they just trashed them. You can assume, I think, that if the Co-op doesn’t collect them it’s because nobody wants to recycle them.


        1. By The Yard, the Jordan, MN furniture company uses recycled bags for building the furniture. I don’t know if Cub’s bins are the real deal or not, but those darn bags gather quickly, despite my efforts to use reusable bags, and I must at least try to recycle them.


        2. The posted sign at the co-op stated that the company was no longer picking them up. There’s some place in Brooklyn Center I think that will take them but I don’t get up that way often (or at all). I’ll check Cub; I don’t shop there, but there is one closer to me than Brooklyn Center.


    1. You have to be suspicious of recycling promises. A lot of them fall into the category of “greenwashing”. I once took some plastic bags to a store where I’d seen a bin and couldn’t find it. I asked an employee and he helped me find the bin, but confessed that they just threw them all away. The market for recycled plastics is limited, nd they get much more than they can use, but still like to make people feel better by pretending that recycling is actually taking place.

      Another plastic problem is #5 black plastics. Recycling programs typically send them to a landfill, but they don’t tell you that unless you ask. They find they get more participation if they don’t give people too much information about what is recyclable and what is not.


      1. Dang. I hope the co-op, when it accepted bags, was really recycling – or the company that picked them up was. (I would think that if a company would pick them up, they wouldn’t turn around and trash them. And the co-op didn’t accept other recyclables.) But I guess I am suspicious of Cub. Shoot.


  9. Even though we no longer have a dog, we still save old towels and tear some of them up for rags. I prefer towels to sponges when I scrub the floors. Robin likes to save small jars. I think we have a lifetime supply, but then lifetimes are shorter than they used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Besides many already mentioned, I reuse cardboard coffee cups when I’ve lost track of my ceramic one that’s supposed to live in the car. Also plastic drink cups from iced tea, even wine at a reception. Found out just how many I was saving when we moved…

    I save used napkins to mop up spills or puddles from wet boots. Wooden sticks from ice cream bars are good for garden markers. I used to save pretty greeting cards and make placemats out of them, might start doing that again because I just inherited boxes of these from my mom. Those clear plastic sleeves holding Trader Joe’s greeting cards are handy for sorting photos or keeping receipts you need to save.


  11. i dont have to save anything. when its time to find something for a use i can always find it. i do save plastic bags and tin foil napkinns and plastic forks, pickle jars and shoes. i have shoe the soles rot off of that i am told are 40 years old. (they werent very good at space age vibram soles back in the day.( i remeber sending my son to a dance in one of my pairs of seldom worn dress shoes. nice looking til he did a spin and left half the sole on the floor then the other half then the other shoe… i got an earfull

    i do have acouple of shirts from high school. and i think some of my underware may be…. you know how hard it is to throw waway that comfy old underware. the holes are around the waistband not where it matters but now that part shows like socks. i hate trowing away sock just because of a hole. i have never darned a sock and repaired it. rice in it for a neck warmer is good yeah (ive made two in my life) hundreds of gloves without the match. i always lose the left… tea leaves can be used 3 or 4 times before they are toast. tea bags always twice at least.
    i want to do water. it is sooooooo easy. who needs clean water for 90% of its uses. i have inventions in the book for that purpose. 4 or 5 of them
    guitar strings into cheese cutters. i used to save film canister to keep stuff in. not as much use for either any more… i used to buy grolsch just for the bottles. gonn brew my own one day… used to collect them in bars that served it.
    i would like to figure out a way to make dumpster diving a thing of positive thought. so much food gets thrown because of stupid sell by dates and rules. hungry people with piles of meat and vegetables int he dumpster. how about rolls and deserts form hotel banquets. never mind the 1/2 steak and untouched veggies. i reuse everything all the time. want to see my warehouse. someone today said they bought a fertilizer spereader on amazon that showed up in tough shape. i told her i have 10 in the warehouse and took one over. the other will be returned


  12. I’m wondering what grolsch is… When you say you want to do water – you mean make it so we can reuse the “gray water” sort of thing? (It is criminal how much decent water we throw down the drain.) Inventions is what book?


  13. I bring stuff to Artscraps whenever I can. They take prescription bottles, tins of all kinds, clear plastic containers, bits of fabric and ribbon, yarn, buttons, zippers, unmatched earrings, picture frames, calendars with nice pictures, baby food jars, paint, broken ceramics and tile, crayons, blocks of styofoam, all kinds of stuff. It’s the perfect solution for all the things that make you think, this might be useful for something…but if you’ve had it around for a couple of years and haven’t used it, it’s probably time to give someone else a shot at it.

    Then if you decide you want it back, there’s a good chance they will have it or something equivalent you can buy, when you actually need it.

    I don’t think I have ever bought back the exact thing I’ve donated, but I’ve come close.

    Liked by 2 people

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