Category Archives: Composting & Recycling

Recycling ~ done my way this summer

I’ve chosen to do something different this summer.

Re-do my “forest’s pathways” and improve the soil for Fall’s planting instead of concentrating on just on summer (tropical) vegetables. Yes, I’m doing it my way.

I’ve used corrugated cardboard – old wine cartons, appliance packaging, good thick brown cardboard from recycling dumpsters – cut them open, carpeted the paths, then wait for the afternoon rain (a common occurrence in Florida).

No red carpet… just plain return of tree material to soil.

A closer look at my handiwork :mrgreen:  …

Cardboard weed barrier

Covered with pine needles

They will look like natural forest paths in a couple of weeks and it hasn’t cost a cent! OK, they may need re-doing in a couple of years but it will give me time to re-plan and perhaps even re-design the pathways depending on the height of the in-ground trees and perennial edibles, as time passes.
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Is this Recycling or Upcycling?

I, with my simple vocabulary range, will just call it re-using. How about that?
Yes, I have found some of those discarded plastic containers of great use and they can be used multiple times too. Be it the Paris Agreement or Global Warming concerns, it is just my nano contribution to slowing down the flow to the recycling plant.

Watering bottle

Apart from the general hose-watering, I use this method to water slow and deep in areas which do not get rained on – keeps my Daikon & Carrots happy.  🙂

Feeding liquid seaweed fertilizer this way gets it right where it’s needed. No spraying around causing soil-splatter on leaves.

These bottles have been in my possession and used for over 2 years yet they are still in very good condition.

To start seeds in winter, even the not-so-chilly Florida winter, I would still need a greenhouse-of-sort. I don’t have seeding lights, warm mats and other expensive stuff avid gardeners use. I use supermarkets’ salad containers which I call green-boxes.

My seeding “boxes” – (R) is box with lid 4″ high & (L) is box over box 8″ high.

You can start with boxes in their original form – box & lid, but as the seedlings get taller, the lid can be peeled off (for next use, again as lids ) and another box can be used as cover giving the plants growing space. These boxes are 4″ high so with 2 boxes together (see pic above; left item) seedlings can happily stay there longer.

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Fruity Seed-starting Pots

Our Passionfruit (Passiflora Incarnata) harvesting season is coming to its close. It has been a good stretch with fruits galore. The tough rind has been put in bokashi bins, compost bins and cut up, then put in the worm bin as feed.

Their latest use has been as seed-starting pots. Just like papier mache seed-starting pots, which is composted to become “soil”, Passionfruit rind will do likewise so why not try them for a new function?

Pole beans in their “new” seed-starting pots.

Germination has begun …

They sprouted healthily.

Whole ‘pots’ went into soil once cotyledons appeared

They seem happy 😀

There will be a few more ‘fruity seed-starting pots’ available once we cut up the remaining Passionfruits on our kitchen counter to be preserved for future devouring.

Yum-yum! Every part gets used.

Speed your Seed’s germination

With the slower growing Fall-greens’ seeds having been sown and cuttings in water being rooted. I’ve decided to ‘speed-sow’ the faster growing vegetables which can be harvested (in about 30 days) by leaf snipping, e.g. spinach, lettuce, etc. It takes slightly more initial work but it speeds up the germination and removes guesswork. (Yes, sometimes when nothing surfaces, we start wondering if the seeds are still good for planting.)

I keep and use/re-use food containers with kitchen towels for this. Just lay the towels down, moisten with water and sprinkle the seeds.

Speedy seed germination

Speedy seed germination

Place their tops on and in 24-36 hours, you will see some change ~ if the seeds are still good. Gently add drops of water if needed.

Seeds doing OK.

Seeds doing OK.

I usually let it further grow another day with mild morning sun to help it and it simply springs to life, faster than in any seeding mix or pellets. Then comes the extra work that needs to be done slowly and gently.

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Re-doing my paths ~ Sheet Mulching with Cardboard

Right now, I am a busy Cardboard Hunter a.k.a. Dumpster Diver. Those dump bins used by stores, emptied by forklifts are so huge and deep, it’s really quite a feat trying to get discarded cardboard boxes out of there (& not fall in). Slow and steady … hey! I’m just helping to recycle …

My 2nd retrieved batch

My 2nd retrieved batch

It’s summer and with Florida’s seasonal downpour, I’ve found it’s the best time to “re-pave” my pathways. Yes, I use cardboard as sheet-mulch as it is biodegradable, blocks weeds and allows me to do my part in recycling.

Pathway cardboard mulched.

Pathway cardboard mulched.

~ then covered with hay

~ then covered with hay

Cardboard mulch & hay all the way.

Hay, hay, hay it’s magic ♫


Now, to wait for tomorrow’s rain before I walk all over it in rubber boots to “shape” it.

Oh, and I use cardboard low boxes as biodegradable raised beds too. They blend in, disintegrate, become soil and my plants can’t tell the difference. :mrgreen:

Seedlings in their temporary raised beds.

Seedlings in their temporary raised beds.

Oops! By coincidence I saw Jennifer Nichole Wells’ site so I’m joining in the fun.

One Word Photo Challenge: Cardboard

Comfrey Harvest – Part 2

Comfrey harvested slightly over 2 weeks ago got hung to dry, then moved to the garage for a couple of days when Tropical Storm Colin came to visit and got moved out again for summer sun drying for 7 days.

When nicely brown and dehydrated, I laid it in a cardboard box and sprinkled it with a scoop of compost. Then it was left to cure for another 7 days ~ almost similar principle to preserving vegetables.

Comfrey curing in a cardboard box.

Comfrey curing in a cardboard box.

I use cardboard boxes as it absorbs moisture and prevents condensation and rot. After proper curing, those leaves are now covered with mycelium! So sweet smelling …

Leaf stems

Leaf stems

Cured Leaves

Cured Leaves

Almost looks like winter frost, doesn't it?

Almost looks like winter frost, doesn’t it?

Now it’s ready for use. I will mix some into potting soil, some into vegetable beds, some into soil-mix to be used for Fall planting and some into my worm bin. This will be done in summer while all Comfrey plants are growing extra fast & producing leaves extra big and thick. This is my form of organic soil enrichment which I think has Ma Nature’s approval.

It’s been tough

We tried, we really did … We’ve built & rebuilt all kinds of contraptions in hope of outsmarting those darn squirrels from devouring food meant for the birds and the outright destruction of several of our bird feeders.

The last contraption was from a thriftstore dismantled, cut up and built into what we hope would be squirrel proof.

It came, saw ...

It saw, came to investigate…

Walked all around it ...

Walked all around it …

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Whatever It was, It got recycled

I bought this strange looking thing today at a thrift store and kept wondering what on earth it is/could have been. After over an hour toying with it on our front porch, hubby & I decided to just cut it up (it’s actually way tougher than it looks) and use it to build what is needed. Yes, it got recycled.

1 of the remnant pieces ended in the back patio as a mini-tool holder.

They will be washed by the rain forecasted for tonight.

They will be washed by the rain forecasted for tonight.

The main project was “built” in the garage and put to the test in the front yard.

A "cage" over the bird feeder!

A “cage” over the bird feeder!

On the sides are the wired squares and the crucial part with vertical wires are next to the feed holes. Will it work? Only 1 way find out …

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