What To Do With Old Milk Jugs?

julia_123(zone5/Indiana)July 7, 2005

I get about 5 plastic gallon milk jugs per week...this spring, I cut several in half and planted seeds in them, and let them sprout in my sun room...but I have SO MANY now and I hate to throw any away. What else could they be used for?


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Vernonia(z7b OR)

hi julia, we go through about a gallon a day, and cannot possibly use them all... the joys of 3 kids under 6 :)

I try to use the ones I have cut up as many times as possible, seed flats are a wonderful use. If they are rather deep, you can sow seeds from your spent flowers in the summer. If you left a handle on them, carry them in the garden while harvesting smaller fruits/veggies, for us, we turn the kids loose with them (even without handles) and let them pick the ripe berries, and their favorite, fresh peas :) the peas never seem to make it to the table though :) And they can be quite handy as cloches as well in the fall to keep your lettuces and such producing longer. Of course all of this depends on how they are cut... some I cannot reuse. And after you have had enough of them, rinse them and recycle them at a place that takes plastics :)

hope this helps :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 4:57PM
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I fill several with water so when I water my container plants they have air temp water.

Save over the winter for some quilt-free planters again. Just cut off the top half and poke holes in the bottom.

I always keep a couple of cleaned out jugs full of tap water in the van. Quick handwashing for the little ones after playing at a park or something.

The go through 3 gallons a week, so the recycling center is the easiest way to get them gone.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 6:22PM
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Crafty_Canuck(W Canada)

Hello All;

Gloria, your idea about keeping one filled with water in your vehicle is a great idea! I know what you mean about little ones and the park/ice cream stand treat/"Look at the nice dog mom" adventures!!

Della :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 12:09PM
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Kathy547(z8 AR)

Here's an old thread ya'll may be interested in:

uses for plastic jugs

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 4:48PM
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Vernonia(z7b OR)

woohoo! thanks Kathy! :) *getting the scissors*

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 10:42AM
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I go to plant swaps about twice a year. The jugs are great for growing plants in to swap. Doesn't waste your good pots, and the person you swap with can reuse it to grow something they can swap next time around.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 7:33PM
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missmshell(z4 Carthage,NY)

They make great mini greenhouses for tomato seedlings. Take off the cap. Cut an x in the bottom and bend the flaps out, set over seedlings and cover flaps with dirt. Remove when plants tips start to poke through top hole. I live in zone 4 so these come in really handy in the early spring when nights are still cool. I also pour any left over coffee in them during the winter and pour it over my lasagna beds in the spring.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 9:01PM
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pewterdigit(z5 WA)

missmshell--- sounds like a great idea for maters and other seedlings! Could you say at about what outdoor temp it would be time to lift off the mini? Thank you for sharring! Ann

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 1:05AM
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missmshell(z4 Carthage,NY)

Pewterdigit Actually I usually just wait until the top of the plant pokes through the top. This year it got really warm pretty early. When it got into the eighties all day long I took them off this year. Glad to help :)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 9:23PM
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pewterdigit(z5 WA)

Thank you missmshell! Tried winter sowing for the 1st time this year. I container garden only and will try using the milk jugs over my containers as you described. Ann

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 1:20AM
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Tyrell(Zone 9, CA)

Here's a use for milk cartons to speed up harvesting. When I pick small things like my blakberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, or greenbeans, I hang a gallon milk bottle from my belt. I enlarge the opening, to make it easier to put things in it, but make sure to leave the handle to run the belt through.
This leaves both hands free to pick, and you don't have to bend over or make trips to a container set somewhere. I think it cuts harvesting time at least in half.

Oh, wanted to comment on using them to cover plants. Unfortunately, according to something I read, tests have shown they offer little protection against frost. For that, Wall 'O Waters are much better, shown to protect plants to temps as low as 16 degrees. In our mild California winters- we have NO freezes many years!- they really aren't needed. But for gardeners in Zones 6 or lower, they might be a good investment?
I do cover my seedlings with clear plastic gallon bottles that cranberry juice comes in. That's not to protect them from cold, but from some hungry critter than can easily finish one off in a single night when they're small. By the time they outgrow the bottles, they can better fend for themselves.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 10:26AM
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garden_witch(z6a MI)

To better protect plants with milk jugs, fill four of them with water and set them in a square around the plant. The water will absorb heat during the day and release it slowly to keep transplants and seedlings warm at night. works even better than wall-o-water =)

I also use jugs for harvesting berries. I cut the top off but leave the handle. I have a big clip attached to the handle so I can clip it on a belt loop, leaving both hands free =)

Also with the top off and handle still attached, a MJ makes a nice big scoop. Good for spreading compost in small areas, scooping up soil for big planters, etc.

I have tried cutting up MJ's into strips to use as plant labels. They are ok as something temporary, but not as nice or as durable as mini blinds.

Quart size milk and oj jugs with the top third or so cut off make good holders for markers, labels, and other small tools I use in the garden.

Just a few suggestions =)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 3:01AM
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Monique_CA(z9 CA mothrlode)

oooh, you need to check the Winter Sowing forum. Those gardeners will teach you what you can do with your jugs!!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 9:23PM
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carol_mi(z6 MI)

I've been using mine for slow watering my new shrubs. Cut enough of the top off to allow it to be filled with a watering can, and punch some holes in the bottom. Put them at the base of the plant and just fill it up whenever it starts getting dry. But I'm sure someone has already thought of this.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 1:24PM
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I use mine for bird food, dog food, etc. I cut the top on some and put bird food in them to keep on the patio to refill the bird feeders. I also use them to water plants. I use them to cover my tomato plants in the early spring. It does give some protection from the cool night air. I tie them in bunches & store them in the winter. I don't use a lot of milk so I don't have lots of containers and use everyone I get. I agree about using them to give plants in. They're sturdy & handy.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 2:48PM
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I'm not sure if this was listed by anyone else, but I have been using milk jugs for years to make cuttings. Particularly hydrangea and boxwood cuttings. Just cut off the bottom, place over the cutting, and you have a great way to keep humidity in (which of course helps the cutting take root). When too much humidity forms (too many water droplets form on the inside of the jug) just take off the cap and the cutting gets just the right amount of ventilation. I have litterally made thousands of cuttings using this method. Just another idea-I hope you or someone else finds it useful. .

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 9:12PM
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I used 100's of them for winter sowed seeds and cold covers to keep frost off of plants in the ground.

This summer used them as fly traps to catch the flies around the barn.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 8:20PM
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theinfamousj(z7 NC)

I use them as cheap/temporary pots. Since I'm a gardener, my favorite gift to give is a nice potted-up cutting from my arsenal (and talk about CHEAP). I recently discovered that I could make attractive hanging planters using the "seed tray" method and a crocheted sling to put them in. All it cost was the $$ for the yarn (yay Goodwill!).

I just thought I'd toss it out there that these can be used to make classy gifts, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo To Illustrate

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 1:46PM
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I also use the gallon milk jugs around my tomatoes in the early spring. I usually have tomatoes at least a month before anyone else in this area.

Also, I use the tops that I cut off for funnels when putting soil into smaller pots. Keeps the soil from going every where.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 10:01PM
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undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

Matthew81, that's great info for me & my cuttings.

I use old milk jugs for watering plants that are in remote locations...the ones that are far enough away that I have to drive to the site.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 1:03AM
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