Saving Milk Jugs after you have Planted Out

mary_maxFebruary 17, 2013

Are you able to use your milk jugs after you plant out? I would like to, but it seems I have to cut the bottom up getting the plants out. Seems I could simply turn over and out it comes but usually that doesnt happen and if it does it spills out all over. If it would work I then could use the jugs again with my annuals. How do you do this?

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terrene(5b MA)

They're easier to save if you cut the jug in half around the middle with a "hinge", because then you can dump the seedlings out of the jug and rinse them.

I used a lot of 1/2, 1, and 2 1/2 gallon plastic jugs my first year, and discovered that the plastic doesn't hold up well after a couple years. It gets too brittle and falls apart. So now I use mostly 1 and 2 LTRs, cups and salad boxes, which have held up for 5+ years.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 5:42PM
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If I can't get the seedlings out without cutting the top off, I cut it off and use the bottom for planting single plants for swaps and giveaways. I do a lot of trading and donations to Freecycle, charity plant sales, and friends and neighbors as well as Community gardens so I need lots and lots of pots. If I can manage to save the jug intact, I use them for a couple of years, but then they get brittle and fall apart.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 5:54PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

To make getting the plants out of containers easier, make sure that the contents of the container are wet. That way, the soil/mix sticks together and the entire contents will slip out easily. If that fails, try using a spoon to withdraw clumps of seedlings.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:41AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I use the hole in the side with a freezer bag over the jug method or the 2Ls. To remove plants from the jugs I either use a large spoon or my hands to scoop out a group of plants, HOS. When the jug is empty I rinse it out in a pail of water, let dry in the sun and then place on a string and hang the jugs in my garage for the next year. As terrene said, the jugs disintegrate after 2-3 years so I only use them 2 years and then recycle them. I also use many 2Ls which are still in excellent condition after 5-6 years.

4 inch nursery pots can be placed inside a larger plastic container, I like to use the salad containers from Costco or a larger rectangle storage container that has holes cut in the top and bottom from air and drainage. These last multiple years.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 4:55PM
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I have been reusing a set of salad boxes that Alberta gave to me when I was a "newbie" for at least 6 years. Thanks alberta!

When I am using jugs, I,like Barbe (above), I try to get the "soil brownies with seedlings" out in one brownie without cutting the jug. But if I can't, I have found the "topless" jugs to be great transporters to share seedlings with others.

The "removing from the jug" technique is truly trial, error and experience. You have to get the seed starting mix to the "right" moisture level. You have to get a wuird grip on the bottom of the jug. You have to have the nerve (I didn't have it for years..) to turn that jug upside down, knowing thatt, yes, your "babies" will be standing on their heads on your hand for a nano second, then flip them around real quick. I always dislodge browies over a large tray with an edge. If any go flying they are caught on the tray. If I dislodge a tight squire, I use a sharp knife to cut up the brownie inot "HOS"s and plant.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 8:33PM
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proudgm_03(6 MO)

Thanks for the tip on wetting them first. I always dumped mine in my hand but they usually fell apart and I was left with baby plants with no soil on them which made them hard to plant. I have found that I can't reuse milk jugs because the.sun dries them out and makes them brittle. I've never saved my 2 liters but I might wash them out and try this year. I might try the same with my juice jugs. I just can't save enough through the year.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:42AM
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My favorite containers are those that are straight sided and smaller at the bottom than the top, like deli containers and large yogurt containers. That way when its time to get them out, I can just tip them sideways and gently squeeze the bottom of the container, and the whole thing just pops out easy as pie.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:32PM
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