Search This Blog

Blog Archive

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My life of crime - or grime?

This really happened and I posted it on the Winter Sowing forum, but wanted to share it with you readers who don't play over there.

Okay, so I want to winter sow. New forum friends are sending me seeds and I must have some containers - NOW! But it's just me here and alone I don't generate enough jugs to do any good. So I decided, nasty cold rain and wind or not, I decided to see what I could find at the recycle center today.

Our center is just a line of 5-6' tall metal containers with lids. Very difficult to even put stuff INto the containers what with trying to hold the lid up and then with the other hand dump in your stuff, let alone getting something OUT. Anyway, I went prepared: brought my little step ladder and a 5' pole with a bent tine at the end. Figured I could hook the handles of jugs.

Fortunately the place was totally deserted. Snagging was working fine, though they'd recently emptied the containers and the good stuff was all at the bottom. I had to climb to the top of the stepladder and bend into the bin and then try and snag jugs. Cold, wet, rain, but I was making some progress when suddenly:


Nearly fell off the ladder, I was so startled. Turning around I thought it was someone offering to help. But no-oo. It was the LAW! BUSTED!

I didn't know whether to laugh or not and tried to explain I was working on a garden project (in the middle of February?), yeah yeah. Don't know if he was totally convinced, but finally drove off and I went back to fishing.

On the drive home I got to thinking: I sure hoped that he'd just been driving by and thought I might be in trouble. The only alternative is that someone in the allotment across the street called the sheriff that there was some wacko across the street.... oh lord! LOL

Anyway, I got away with the loot!

I was going to ignore the 2.5 gal rectangular jugs because I thought they were too deep. Then it hit me I could turn them sideways and make clamshells out of them! Now I'm sorry there weren't more to scarf up.

Will the bust deter me from trying another heist? Doubt it. But next time I'm bringing along a lookout... ;-)

Some of the milk jugs were pretty smashed. Definitely hit-n-run victims.

In the past I...uh, no wait...a friend of mine would have covered the mouth of the rinsed jug with a paper towel and blow it back into shape. But not me! No...really...oh well, yes! So there! But I found a better way (at least a lot more sanitary). I bent a 1/2" wide piece of copper pipe into a cane shape and used it to push out the sides. If the straight side can't reach the dent, the curved side does! Presto.

Meanwhile back at my lair... I laundered the loot. Nice haul if I do say so myself.

I was eager to use those big 2.5 water dispenser jugs and turn them into winter sowing clam shell containers. I cut them in half along the seem (hardest part was cutting the handle and the container behind the handle. Box cutters slip, so I use a linoleum knife (it has both serrations and a hook at the end so doesn't slip). Then having read on the WS forum how dangerous it can be to drill into the jugs, I decided to use my shopmate table. I opened the top to give me about an inch wide, positioned the jug over the opening, then drilled through the jug into the opening. No sweat and even better - no danger of drilling my hand (or any other part of me!).

I had some corrugated plastic and used it to partition the clam into 3 obvious chambers (using the pressed-in stabilizing folds as guidelines. The clam held a good 3" of soil. Deep enough for most winter sowing. (For plants needing deeper, there are the 2-liter bottles for that.)

No tape needed to close the clam: I used some of the Velcro strips my Mom uses to tie up her tomato plants.

One container down, only 25 more to go. Woohoo!

Update, Saturday Feb 20th: Lots of gift seeds coming my way so I needed to get ready for them. Here I've sliced up milk jugs and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage. The large drill bit makes short work.

And here's my stash, laundered, (and any serial numbers filed off ;-) ), filled with 3-4" of mix and ready for seeds.

And I really like how the clamshells worked out. Like little luggage for seeds.

Now we wait and see....stay tuned!

Update: 2/23/2009 - an adjustment.
I received all my gift seeds - almost 100 packs! Holy cow! And it's too cold right now to go dumpster diving so I came up with this idea. I cut up some more of the white corrugated plastic and turned the 3-chamber WS container into a 6-chamber. Even divided into 6 compartments, there is as much as 2/3 of the volume in each section as in a gallon jug. This way I can sow more varieties to try a lot of different plants.

Okay, now on to planting! I'll put up a new post. Honest I will! ;-)

Click here to return to Melissa Majora main page.


  1. I cut the milk jugs in half except for the handle then push them back into shape. Much easier.

  2. That's sure another way to try. I'll keep that in mind! Thanks.

  3. Lots of good stuff in this blog!

    You can fill milk jugs with water while you're cleaning them and that pops them back into shape, too.

    I take my cane and we snag things with that.

    When I worked at EmployAbility I actually saw a man bring a silver metal step ladder and he would climb into the hopper from the ladder with his flashlight at night. I had to call the police on the folks taking things out of the bin that held books, and the ones with aluminum cans in them. Those were our two biggest money makers. People almost always graduated from taking things from the bins to rummaging through things left at the gate for the thrift shop. What they left would blow all over the parking lot and then our neighbors would send the police over to us during the next day to make us clean it all up. It got very expensive, which is why EmployAbility quit doing it. What with scavengers taking all the good stuff, and others leaving their garbage and stuff that was only fit for the landfill (you should've SEEN some of the mattresses that got left on us!), it got so we were spending more than we took in. We tried the security camera, but by the time the police got there, the scavenger was usually gone. One time, though, I got the license plate number off the car of the guy taking aluminum cans. We would pay 25 cents a pound if people brought them in to be weighed, but a lot of them were just left as a donation in the hopper. Turned out he had been in jail on a drug charge and had to pay so much a week on his court costs. He was making the money by taking those donated cans and then bringing them back the next day and selling them to us.

    Now that the City is running the recycling program, they only take plastics, cardboard, and aluminum. Local schools have newspaper recycling collection boxes from companies in Tulsa in their parking lots.

  4. We don't put the aluminum cans separate from the tin/steel ones. And I always always take more to recycle than I fish out for home use. I'm a good girl, I am! ;-D


Looking forward to hearing from you. :-D