Posts tagged ‘Upcycling’

How To Grow Uber Tomatoes, even when you start them too early

…by using recycled coffee cups to maximize root size. Every year I start my tomatoes in February. I don’t have a south facing window–I am totally reliant on shop lights to help them grow. But instead of being leggy, my tomatoes are crazy drought-proof beasts that take over the world. Last year, my Matt’s Cherry tomato grew about 9 feet wide, and the neighbours had to cut it back just to figure out where the fence was so they could park their car. That’s because the root ball was deep enough to support it. My secret is using recycled coffee cups to help gradually build up the root ball.

Step 1. Get everyone you know (and their office) to collect coffee cups. Sort them by size, because you will want to start with the small ones. Poke drainage holes.
poke drainage holes
Step 2. Remove your leggy tomato seedling from the cellpack (I plant all my seeds in cell packs recycled from past years, because most greenhouses won’t recycle them), and place at the bottom of a small cup. See the first leaves at the bottom? Carefully pinch those off.
remove first leaves
Step 3. Bury the tomato up to where it branches, stem and all. Around the root ball, you can use compost to give it a healthy start, but when you are burying the stem, a soil-less potting mix is best. (I prepare my potting mix by soaking it first, to make sure it has absorbed plenty of water.) This is how deep you should plant it.

Roots will grow out of the part of the stem that you burried, to become part of the ever-growing rootball.
Step 4. When the tomato grows up out of the pot again, remove it from the small cup, put it in the bottom of a medium sized cup, and bury it up to the branch again. (In these stages, you can make a doughnut of compost around the outer edges of the cup, and use potting mix for the rest.)

Repeat until you have a root ball as deep as extra large coffee cup. You can keep moving them up into larger planters, but by XL I run out of space to keep all my seedlings.
XL
Using coffee cups also makes it easy to give away tomatoes to friends and neighbours. Share the heirloom love.

When it’s finally safe to plant everything outdoors, I’ll show you how to use drought-proof planting to make your tomatoes (and other plants) survive between rains without the need for watering.

May 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm 4 comments

1000 year Chandelier

Everyone’s heard that styrofoam takes 1000 years to break down, but we still use it for coffee cups and packaging. The least we can do is upcycle. Eric Lawrence just won the Sustainable Prize in Design Within Reach Austin’s M+D+F competition for his beautiful chandelier made out of the styrofoam packing material from Apple laptops.
It reminds me of all those crazy 70’s plastic lamps-of-the-future.

styrofoam chandelier

chandelier view

via Make.

May 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm Leave a comment

Raingutter gardens

I am stunned by the ingenuity of these re-purposed rain gutter gardens. They are an excellent way to increase your gardening space. They’re perfect the perfect size for growing herbs, leeks, and lettuce. Plus they’re beautiful to look at–they’d look amazing with trailing nasturtiums. raingutter gardens

Via homegrown.org.

April 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

Inspiring Upcycling: Electricity-Free Lighting

It’s the simplicity of this project that makes it so beautiful. A man in Brazil is using soda bottles to light his workshop during the day (they’re rated at 50 watts!). This would never work in our climate, but I would love the opportunity to see pop bottles sticking out of people’s houses.

Via Make.

April 28, 2009 at 9:40 am Leave a comment


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