Why Dispose When You Can Re-Use?
While we often encourage people to become clutter-free there are many items that are often discarded that can be reused or repurposed around the homestead or farm. If you are not a homesteader yourself you may still want to collect some of these items to give to your friends who may have use for them. This is much better than letting it sit in a landfill to slowly decompose over thousands of years.
Time to Think Outside The Box
An important skill of homesteading is the ability to convert items from the their traditional use cases and making a new life for them. Many of these items may have obvious second use cases (like jars and egg cartons) but sometimes you may have to think outside the box to get use out of them.
Scraps of metal fencing of various sizes can be used for trellising plants which grow vertically via vines. This is a much cheaper solution than buying a trellis from your local hardware store. They may look nice but on a functional level they offer no more support than some scrap metal fencing affixed vertically.
While you won’t get a whole lot of extra use out of these disposable plastics they work great as a seedling starter tray with a miniature greenhouse. If you have a soil blocker you can use these clam-shells as a way to maintain humidity for your seedlings.
You can often obtain these for free from window companies if you ask around. There are examples all over the internet where people make miniature to full sized greenhouses. I’ve even recently used them myself to make a chicken coop as shown in the photo below. As I was framing it up I realized I had made it to the perfect size that the old windows sat in the framing perfectly. I will detail further this project in a future blog post.
Pillow Cases or Sheets
You can take different kinds of manure and make what is known as “compost tea.” The tea bag (so to speak) can be made out of a pillow case. Essentially you take for instance, your worm castings or chicken manure and you place it inside an old pillow case. Then you drop it down in a bucket or barrel (depending on how much tea you’re trying to make) and you let it sit in there agitating often. The more air you can get to the mixture the quicker it will become usable with your plants. I recently used a very mild mixture to fertilize my seedlings because seed starting mix contains no nutrients and it’s up to you to provide it to them when they develop the first set of true leaves.
If you don’t want to agitate your compost tea often by hand and want a more automated system you can incorporate an aquarium pump. With the assistance of an air stone you can generate bubbles into the mixture allowing for a much quicker result.
Totes and Plastic Trays
Just because you’ve lost the top to that tote or it was broken you can still likely find a use for it around the farm. Totes often work well as reservoirs in hydroponic setups, a place to make your own potting soil, a container for growing sprouts, and more.
When you have a hose that has a broken end or hole in it you probably shouldn’t discard of it. They sell hose repair kits for a fraction of the price of buying a new one. You can take your old hoses and make an excellent irrigation system for your garden or use a float valve to have your animal watering containers refill automatically.
For pest control small pieces of hose have been used to capture those pesky aphids.
While one of the most expensive items to dispose of legally and properly (roughly $5 a tire) they have been used extensively in many different projects. Your first thought may be a tire swing or garden planter but people have even built houses out of them called “earth ships” with a process called “rammed earth.” Rammed earth is a technique that could also be used to create a berm for a shooting range or a root cellar to store veggies.
A lesser known creative way people have used tires is what is called “mechanical concrete.” It’s a way to add flexibility to areas that are often driven over by heavy machines. Basically they build a road of tires and fill them with gravel to allow the surface to conform to the heavy demands placed upon it. It’s a very interesting concept I suggest you read more about if you are interested.
Maintaining a Healthy Balance
The techniques and practices mentioned here are certainly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the creative ways people have reused what many call “junk.” While this may be exciting to think of the possibilities it’s best not to get carried way. Many end up accumulating projects that never come to fruition and amass a collection that becomes unbearable to live with. It’s up to you to tread that line, maintain a balance, and determine if you have the time and initiative to get the job done. If you feel overwhelmed by all your projects that never happened we’re here for you. Give us a call or contact us via our contact form and we will do our best to get these burdensome items a second life in a new home so you can get back the space and mental well-being you desire.