reusing old jugs

tempusflitsJanuary 14, 2014

I have jugs from last year that never sprouted and that I never cleaned out. Question: can I toss in some seeds on top of last year's potting mix and add a little fresh mix to try again? Has anyone ever done this?

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I tried it once (re-using milk jugs that I cleaned and used fresh soli). The problem for me was the sun had weakened the plastic and they fell apart. Luckily, I didn't do very many because I lost them all.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:17PM
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I agree - milk jugs decompose over a winter and the plastic becomes weak. Also, I find the easiest way to transplant my seedlings from milk jugs is to slice around the bottom with a serrated knife and let the whole clump come out. Then I slice the square into brownie-sized pieces for planting.

I would definitely re-use the potting soil though.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:02PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Two years is the longest the milk jugs last for me before falling apart.

I have tried just stirring up the old soil and resowing. The germination wasn't as good as when I added some new soil in with the old soil. If you sow different seed than the year before you might find an old seed sprouting amongst the new seeds.

Good luck and let us know your germination results in the spring.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:55PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I liked using milk jugs, and tried plastic jugs in 1/2, 1, and 2 1/2 gallon sizes with good results. But the plastic falls apart in 1-2 years for me too. It becomes brittle and breaks apart in the cold weather.

This is why I now mostly use 2 LTR bottles (along with a few salad boxes, and assorted cups, etc.). They are easy to re-use and the plastic holds up to the winter weather and lasts for years. I rinse, dry, and store the bottles in a large plastic bag in the basement. Some of the bottles I've used since my first years of WSing - 2008 & 2009 - and are going strong!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:22PM
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Thanks for the responses! I use mostly 2-liter bottles, so I might give this a go. Love the idea of cutting out the bottom of the milk jug when planting. That's clever.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:54AM
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that's weird. I use the same ones (one gallon plastic water jug bottoms) year after year, and never had any fall apart.

I would wash them out between tho.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:54PM
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I've gotten 2-3 years out of milk/water jugs but then, like everyone says, they have fallen apart. The clear plastic veggie and salad boxes seem to last a very long time. I have some that Alberta gave me my first year of WSing (7-8 years ago?) that are still usable.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:27PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Ellen, might be a zone thing. I see you are a few zones warmer than the earlier responders, and it could be that harsher weather or colder temps had a stronger effect on the plastic.

Here in my zone 6, I can get two years out of the jugs, if I empty them and store them in the garage after the first sowing, although I don't usually bother. I just recycle them and use "new" ones each season, for the most part.

I've had some jugs (bottoms) sit outside (with sprouted, growing and blooming plants, I'm embarrassed to admit!) for two years or so, and if I grab an edge to lift them, they are brittle and often will break apart.

But I think if you store them out of the elements after the first use you could get at least one more use out of them, IMHO.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 5:22PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

My husband can't tolerate the numbers of jugs I would have lying around. So, I recycle and collect new each year. Luckily, I have teenagers who drink lots of milk, and I make tapioca pudding all winter, which uses lots of milk as well. I usually sow between 50-100 jugs yearly.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 6:47AM
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Wow. 50 to 100 jugs! That's astounding. I'd love to see your garden/gardens.

Milk is a rare purchase for me. I live alone. But I've recently found people talking about using salad boxes. I buy those by the dozens, so that gives me access to a good supply of containers. I'm so stoked.

But I'm waiting for it to warm up a wee bit before I start planting. I don't even want to run outside with jugs in this weather. We've had a couple of days with windchills below zero. And of course, earlier we were part of that deep freeze nearly the entire country endured.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:23AM
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I'm in Z5, IL also and took advantage of those few days in between the deep freezes to do some planting. I did 25 jugs and will wait to plant the rest when it warms a little. At least the ones I planted are getting covered with snow AGAIN today.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:43AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I've moved several times in recent years. So, despite all of my planting, my garden is nothing to write home about. I plant many annuals and donate plants to friends and family, so my gardens are far from full.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:23PM
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