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reduce, reuse, recycle. (or, how to give your garden some serious hipster cred)

July 2, 2012

corrugated recycles

We have a pretty unusual waste stream around here. Food scraps are often repurposed or fed to the dogs, worms, or chickens before they reach the compost pile. Instead of regular trash pickup, we haul a trash can or two to the dump every few months. But we also take along more recycling than I’d like to admit.

I’ve been trying to cut back on the waste we generate by buying most of our food and toiletries (and beer) in bulk, but it still adds up. So lately we’ve been finding ways to repurpose some of these materials in the garden and around the farmstead. We do it because we’re broke, frugal, and environmentally conscious, but it’s had the unintended consequence of making our garden very, very hip. Not because it’s cool to be “green,” but because it is steeped in irony:

adding soda bottles

These 1- and 2-liter soda bottles used to hold high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and all sorts of other junk. Now they collect solar radiation all day and slowly release it all night to keep our cucumbers warm.

cuke and soda bottle

We’ve also been searching for a way to suppress weeds along the pathways between beds. I ransacked our house for cardboard, which was working well, but we didn’t have enough on hand to cover all the paths. Luckily, Daniel works at our local grocery store and was able to bring a bunch home. So we blanketed our hyper-local, organic garden with cardboard that used to house apples from New Zealand and “Florida Natural” orange juice:
cardboard path, with beets and peas

The last thing I want to mention isn’t really ironic, but I think it still gives us hipster cred. Not only do we drink lots of fair trade, shade grown coffee around here, we also sprinkle the used grounds on our garden beds to help with slug control. And recently, we scored some chaff, a byproduct of the roasting process, from our local roaster to use as mulch. It’s strangely fluffy and smells heavenly. Despite the fluffiness, it stays in place, keeping the weeds down and the water in. Our zucchini seem to be enjoying it:

zucchini with coffee chaff mulch

Anyone else have some good ideas for reusing materials in the garden?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 9, 2012 1:30 pm

    Molly… I love the solar soda collectors or is it soda solar??? Truly ingenious. Thanks for sharing! Denise Arsenault

    • mjade permalink*
      July 11, 2012 10:19 am

      Hi Denise, and thank you! I can’t remember where I saw the idea, but they seem to have helped. Summer in the NW has just barely begun..

  2. Aimee permalink
    July 10, 2012 12:11 pm

    I never heard the thing about coffee grounds to deter slugs(which just ate two sunflower seedlings and a dill plant) – I’m going out now to put some grounds in the garden!

    • mjade permalink*
      July 11, 2012 10:26 am

      Hi Aimee! What a bummer–I cried when the deer mowed down my sunflowers last year. I think used coffee grounds work by making the ground rough, so once they’re incorporated into the soil they stop working. But we drink lots of coffee, so I keep sprinkling (and hand picking slugs on rainy days!).

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